How do we prepare our commercial winter hanging baskets at PHS Greenleaf?: interview with our Production Manager, Scott Morahan

At PHS Greenleaf, our teams work tirelessly all year round to deliver our customers beautiful hanging baskets, troughs, pots, and flower beds, and as we’ve been steadily approaching autumn, they’ve been extra busy preparing commercial winter hanging baskets for our clients.

This involves planting the baskets with fresh blooms that add colour and interest to the premises (and are hardy enough to withstand the colder weather), as well as replacing these with our clients’ existing summer hanging baskets before the winter hits. It’s essential that this is completed as early as possible to ensure they have a thriving planting display all year round!

One of those helping to ensure this is possible is Scott Morahan, who is a Production Manager at three of PHS Greenleaf’s plant nurseries and our Christmas facility. With his years of experience, and love of the outdoors and gardening, Scott is extremely passionate about his role at PHS Greenleaf, particularly in terms of ensuring our winter hanging baskets are prepared on time for our customers.

Ever wondered how we get our hanging baskets looking their best? Today, Scott shares the process of preparing our winter hanging baskets, as well as his favourite designs and winter planting trends…

Scott Morahan, Production Manager at PHS GreenleafHi, Scott! As a Production Manager at PHS Greenleaf, what does your role entail?

Put simply, I manage the production of both our Horticultural and Christmas stock at PHS Greenleaf’s three Nurseries, as well as our Christmas facility.

When it comes to my role, the most important aspect is planning. When dealing with living products, and materials sourced from suppliers based thousands of miles away, it’s key to ensure that everything comes in and goes out on time in full. Ordering months in advance (for all the analysis of sales that we do), there are times when you’ll have to take a punt on what customers will want. This is why planning as much as possible is essential.

How long have you been with PHS Greenleaf?

Just over 3 years now.

What do you love most about being a Production Manager at PHS Greenleaf?

I enjoy seeing beautiful products created from base materials; it’s essentially Horticultural Alchemy!

People are often surprised by how many countries are involved in the production of plants. However, my career has given me the opportunity to travel a lot, and see every stage of the Horticultural supply chain. This ranges from cuttings farms in Africa, to highly mechanised European greenhouses, to Indian Coir production, to Baltic peat farms.

Where did you get your love of gardening from?

I’ve always liked being outdoors. As a child, I enjoyed picking Gooseberries, and digging up Jerusalem Artichokes on my parent’s allotment.

Where do you find inspiration for your summer and winter hanging baskets?

I have to hand a lot of the credit to my colleague, Amanda Catley, who is one of our Nursery Managers.

I’m more scientific than design-orientated, but Amanda has an eye for design and what compliments each other.

Through trial and error, and customer and technician feedback, we tweak existing designs and create new arrangements. However, when doing this, I always try to remind people that “this is Britain”; the one consistent we have is that the weather is inconsistent! Some years some plants thrive, other years something else does, so we need to take this into consideration when designing our displays.

How do you prepare your hanging baskets for the winter? Tell us more about the process!

The first thing we need to do is ‘green up’ the baskets, which means getting the trailing ivies, conifers, or other evergreens in to root first. We grow these outside for a few weeks to try and get them hardier.

While that is happening, we start planting our winter pansies and violas in the greenhouses. The more colourful plants are added the week before they’re dispatched to the depots; this ensures they can be as fresh as possible to last until the following spring.

Which of PHS Greenleaf’s winter hanging baskets is your favourite and why?

I personally love Winter Warmer. With its Red Cordylines and variegated foliage, you get colour from more than just the bedding plants.

Excitingly, this year we’re adding an Australian plant called Calocephalus to the design; this will provide a lovely silver contrast!

Tell us some new and exciting trends for winter planting!

As an alternative, try adding winter herbs to your hanging baskets instead. Lavender, Thyme, and Sage are good options, to name but a few.

What are your top tips for maintaining winter hanging baskets? How does it differ from summer?

Pray for a cold snap to come soon, but I’m sure you won’t! This will help the Pansies, and kill off some fungal spores of certain diseases, like leaf spot. These thrive in mild muggy autumn weather, and they affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesise.

Good water management is also key, though you need to remember that winter hanging baskets only

need small quantities. Don’t over-water them; although you can always add water to the compost, it’s not so easy to take it out!

Want to know more about what the PHS Greenleaf team can do for your business premises? Check out the links below: