Thursday, May 05, 2011

Balcony Garden

I was a little nervous about moving to an apartment. At my parent's house, I had a few square feet of garden to attend to here and there. My mother was nice enough to give me a space for some of the things I had collected from landscaping clients over the years, including trillium, corydalis, hellebore, jack-in-the-pulpit, bloodroot, and even a kousa dogwood tree. I loved my mini gardens, and I loved helping my mother tend her large patches of garden.

My garden - ok, not so mini...

A fraction of my mother's garden.

When we settled on the apartment we're in now, outdoor space hardly factored into it. We had seen the dumpiest of dumpiest places, including an apartment with construction debris and black water filling the bathtub and staining the bathroom tiles. "Oh that'll be....cleaned up, or fixed...or whatever" the realtor assured us. UM. WHAT?

When we were shown the place we're in now - or rather, when my sister and I saw it, as Jam was in NYC and had to give his approval via YouTube - it was the spacious rooms, high ceilings, built-in details, driveway and neighborhood that sold me on the apartment. It's an apartment, not our forever home, and the apartment was glorious compared to the pieces of crap we had been shown. Bonus, it has about a 12x3 balcony, but at that point I could not have cared less about outdoor space.

Commence long and snowy and cold New England winter during which I become hermit-like, only venturing outside to go to work, shovel, or get groceries.

Now it's spring, and I'm ready for a little beautifyin', a little gardening. What could I do with my decrepit little balcony? Lucky for me, there's only about a zillion small-space gardening resources in print and on the interwebs! Hooray! The hard part will be narrowing down what I want. Here's some inspiration I found online: 


via apartment therapy - I loved this because it addresses a narrow space, similar to what we have. I think the key thing to take away from this photo is that this balcony is not overloaded with furniture. Right now we have a metal table on our balcony. I'd like to keep it (and cover it, yuck) and 5 plastic chairs and one weird folding chair. I'd like to keep the plastic chairs for guests, but I think the spares can go in the basement or stack in a corner when we're not using them.

 
also via apartment therapy - again, loving the narrow space and the table cloth is fab. It's a little too much pink for me though...

from bzesty, a deck garden featuring potted plants. Everything I am planting will be confined to a pot, but look how much you can do with a group of different sized plants and pots!

from flickr - I like knowing this is someone's "real" space - not that the others aren't, but what is more real than someone's personal photos from flickr? Wish I had a kitty to enjoy the deck as well. I think this is probably the best representation of what our balcony will look like, with the plants pushed around the edges.

Just pretty - found here.

Awesome bird bath idea for a small space from life on the balcony. I seem to be able to attract only house sparrows and starlings despite seeing a huge selection of birds in the yard next door - including tufted titmice, chickadees, mockingbirds, blue jays and carolina wrens, and the yards on the surrounding streets where I've seen all of those birds, plus nuthatches, house finches, downy woodpeckers and flickers, AND the presence of a nearby park which hosts even more interesting things like catbirds, house wrens and towhees. I'm hoping a water feature will lure something interesting to my balcony. If not, I know the starling that has learned to mimic my parakeet will enjoy it:

he's on the corner of the deck, singing away....

finally, a morning glory screen found here. We don't have fantabulous balcony views, but the one that faces a neighbor's broken down garage is particularly gross. I've already incorporated this idea into the garden plan and started some Heavenly Blue and Scarlett O'Hara morning glory seeds. 


Below is a little mock-up I made of our balcony. It's not to scale. At all. 
The blue rectangle represents the morning glory screen I'm planning on planting. Green circles are planters. I have a "love tree" - a dwarf pine from our wedding - planted in one, and I think that will end up in the corner. The other two I'm hoping to plant with semi-shade tolerant plants, but the beauty of container gardening is that  if anything gets leggy or pale from lack of sun, I'll drag it to the front of the balcony. The blue square is the bird bath I'm planning on, and the pink circles are hanging baskets I'd like to pull together, preferably fuchsia or bright plants that will attract hummingbirds to my feeder, which is represented by the red circle. The long pink rectangle represents planters that will hold sweet peas, herbs and lettuce if I can get my seeds to germinate, and green rectangles will be deck planters. I'd like these to be bright - since the deck faces southeast approximately I think the planters would flourish. Eek! So exciting to plan. Hopefully I'll have an update as soon as I get everything organized outside...oh and it warms up a bit. More later!


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