LIGHTER evenings and warmer weather is encouraging us all to get back out in the garden to perfect our peonies, or at least enjoy some alfresco dining.

But what if you don’t know your daisies from your dahlias, or your uprights, to your trailing plants...

Well Hillier Garden Centres have you sorted with its latest series of workshops held seasonally throughout the year to get you up to scratch.

This newspaper was invited along to the most recent Spring Hanging Baskets workshop to see what it was all about. 

For a bright May morning and 12 just as spritely participants were ready and raring for the 9:30am session hosted by Hillier Garden Centre in Aldermaston.

Hosting the workshop was a dynamic gardening duo Rachel and Vanda from the Hilliers team who had already laid out each participants work space with all the tools needed.

Reading Chronicle: Hillier Garden Centre Aldermaston Spring Hanging Basket Workshop, May 2024

As the team introduced the plan for our next two hours, everything was explained for how we would create one large hanging basket and one large potted plant display.

Initial impressions included how friendly everyone including our hosts were, as well as a pleasant surprise to find just what great value for the £50 cost of the workshop was - scrumptious cream team included also! 

After a quick tally of tea and coffee orders, a brief step by step of how to create the perfect potted display was given. Very informal, yet informative.

Next was the step-by-step tutorial of creating a beautiful hanging basket and what best to include from the array of plants on offer for the group to choose from.

The run down of each step-by-step guide was brief enough to keep participants engaged, by detailed enough to explain how best to put together you creations. A different approach to previous Hillier workshops held elsewhere in Berkshire where the team were taking through the creation process while we worked.

At Aldermaston's Hillier Centre this worked great, as it meant participants were able to choose between creating one of each or two hanging baskets, or two pot plants. Both displays included around 3 or 4 plants each, chosen from the colourful stands on offer.

Our hosts were on hand throughout to answer questions, and give useful hints and tips for the best combinations of plants to use, how best to keep them once home, plus many more tips from home gardening in general.

The workshop lasted for around two hours which seemed like it would be more than enough time with much to spare, however it proved just right.

Half way through we were treated to an afternoon tea with scones, jam, cream, and a pot of tea in the wonderful cafe at Hiller Garden Centre Aldermaston - every inch as delicious as it looked.

Before back to the grind to finish off our creations.

Reading Chronicle: Hillier Garden Centre Aldermaston Spring Hanging Basket Workshop, May 2024

The workshop proved a huge success, many happy faces eager to get their creations home after a fun morning making friends and seasonal gardening.

Hillier Garden Centres will next be hosting an Autumn Workshop with a similar offering including an option to create a bulb container also. Other workshops on offer throughout the year across several Hillier Garden Centres include wreath making at Christmas, as well as Terrarium and Houseplant Container Workshop.

With knowledgeable hosts, a fantastic offering of plants and accessories, plus tasty food and a friendly bunch of like-minded participants - the hanging basket session was great value for money. Highly recommend for a relaxed morning out to unleash your creativity, where you can head home feeling proud of your perfect plant creations.

Hillier Garden Centres have venues for workshops across several areas in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire including Aldermaston, Marlow, Sunningdale, and Newbury.

Reading Chronicle: Hillier Garden Centre Aldermaston Spring Hanging Basket Workshop, May 2024