Cat, who sent in photos a few weeks ago for the Flower Box Awards, has just moved to a new apartment near Manhattan and is looking for advice for her balcony. Its depth is 5' and gets bright northern exposure. She wants tons of plants, but also to be able to sit out there - and is looking to see if AT readers have any advice (on either plants/planters or appropriate patio furniture).
This is what Esther has to say: I just moved into this apartment a year ago, and the biggest draw of it was the balcony and the view! I can see the plants from my living room sofa, and it somehow connects to the trees in the distance and makes me feel so calm and happy. Also, a lot of the plants I am growing are herbs that I use in my kitchen (rosemary, basil, sage, mint), so my little "garden" is functional as well as pretty. It is well worth the effort of having to water the plants almost daily in the hot weather! This was my first attempt at a balcony garden. It actually has a lot of limitations. The dimensions are approximately 5 feet deep and 17-18 feet wide (it's wider near the railing than against the wall). It has a northern exposure and is covered on top, so the plants get indirect light all day and only a couple hours of direct light. It was a challenge finding plants that could tolerate those conditions. I also wanted lots of plants but not to give up a lot of space. I will hopefully be living here for many years to come (how could I give up this view?!), so this is going to be an ongoing project. I am going to try to overwinter some of the perennials, but I think most of them won't make it through the winter... so I will have an almost blank slate next year. I'm also planning on getting some nice small chairs and a table (like a modern-looking bistro set or something). I'd love to receive input/advice! Best wishes, Esther ("cat" on AT) Some quick patio plant advice: One large and taller planter (or something built to fit the space)may be good to use in the trapezoid corners of the balcony, be a good anchor for the small pots, and help your plants overwinter better. You may also want to go vertical with either hanging tomato planters(I've heard some varieties can actually do well in northern light) or something that will trail upwards (morning glories, squash) on a lattice or wire trellis against the wall space. Plants and pots on balconies can freeze - but putting them on top of a blanket or a cushion of mulch when the weather gets cold, and also shielding them from wind and rain, will help them survive to come back next spring. The AT archives are a good resource for folding chairs and other posts for patio furniture, specifically in the June 'Outdoor Month' archives. Garden Design Magazine also regularly has patio furniture eye candy - and had an article earlier this year about the hottest plastic outdoor chairs. Any readers tips for small patio spaces? matt at apartment therapy dot com