My Great Outdoors: Catherine & Larry's Blooming Balcony

Name: Catherine & Larry
Location: Park Avenue South
Type of space: Balcony
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: The balcony is our little green oasis in the middle of the brick and concrete jungle. We love to sit down to relax, read a book or share a meal on the small cafe table. Because we set up planters all around the balcony edge and the balcony sides are panels not railings, when you sit down you feel that you are encased in this little green cocoon, surrounded by plants and flowers. It’s like being sheltered from the city’s roughness...

...The small 12 x 6 ft balcony is an extension of our 625 sq ft 18th floor apartment in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It really makes our living room feel bigger, and a glimpse of green and pops of color through the window and French doors make a huge difference on a cloudy day. This year I am growing lettuce (arugula, red leaf, lola rossa) in 3 big pots, it is fun to watch it grow from seed to full leaf, and the leaves are so tender!

How did you create it? We have been in the apartment for 5 years and the first thing we got was the planters. They are French zinc planters and have stood New York’s tough weather very well. Right from the start I set up a planter for the herb garden. I usually have chives (they overwinter), rosemary (which survives a tough winter as well if you remember to water it regularly), parsley or cilantro and thyme. We bought a small inox café table and two aluminum chairs that can stay outside all year round.
This year, we bought a large ivy on a trellis from the flower district. We toyed with the idea a growing a living wall to shield us from our neighbors but we were worried about the maintenance so we bought the ivy already grown and it works really well!

The balcony faces south so everything grows easily (if you remember to water, water, and water!). Even in winter, I keep dwarf junipers, boxwood and ivy in the planters. This summer I added bright colored geraniums and petunias for a nice shot of color. Our latest acquisition, a gardenia, does not appreciate the endless rainy weather and has stopped flowering. We hope the weather turns around soon so that we can enjoy the fragrant blossoms again!

Recommended store, site, product or resource? The planters were bought from windowbox.com, the table and chairs from Design Within Reach. Most of the plants come from the Union Square greenmarket or the 28th street flower district (between 6th and 7th avenues).

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