ISSUE 17, April 2006
Editorial
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Container planting is an excellent way of creating a garden environment even if you do not necessarily have one. It is also a solution for when you have a garden where there is no provision for planting or growing a particular plant that is not suitable for your soil.
    Think carefully before you start, and get ideas from what other people have done rather than buying on impulse. Think about which colours blend well together, with the smaller the pot, the simpler the design. It is important to choose plants that suit in both size and depth.
    You also need to consider when planting perennials that have roots that spread, that you are able to take them out. This can be done by making sure that the container does not have a smaller top than the body. You also have to consider where you are going to place it. A south-facing wall, for example, where the wall will retain heat, could become very hot.
    Use potting or container compost that retains moisture and provides nutrition. Peat-based compost used to be standard, but now you can also get the peat-free types which will work, but tend to be freedraining, which means that water passes through very quickly.
    As such, you will need to water more frequently. Feeding is important, and it is worth adding slow release fertiliser. Drainage, too, is a priority otherwise the roots can get waterlogged. Always check that there are holes in the bottom of your containers, and make some if there are none.
    These then need to be protected so that they do not get clogged up. During the winter months, the chances are that you will have several clay pots which will have cracked. These can be broken up and used to cover and protect the holes. If using a big container, filling it up with compost can be expensive.
    This is where old plastic plant and polystyrene containers come in useful scatter these higgledy-piggledy at the bottom. Break up the compost through your hands to aerate it and increase its volume before you add it.
    When planting, start from the middle and plant outwards, making sure the level of the plant is level with the compost. If repotting, take off the dead leaves and bits of dried-up compost. If the container is to be placed on a stone surface, it is a good idea to have it slightly off the ground, which can be achieved by using pot feet to allow the water to escape.
    Once you have planted your arrangement, it will need watering, and again a second time once settled. If you are buying plants from a garden centre, they will need to get acclimatised to your conditions. Leave them outside for about a week before replanting, and if the nights are cold, cover them with fleece. Once repotted, putting pebbles on the top can look pretty, and will conserve the moisture.
    Nothing can be more disappointing than buying a beautiful clay pot and finding particularly if you plan to leave it out during the winter months that it has cracked. Check that it is frost-free, especially if it is imported or you are buying it abroad.
    The Royal Horticultural Society produces a print-out of plants which are suitable for patios.


   

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