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Balcony, Patio, and Courtyard Gardening
People choose balcony, patio, and courtyard gardening for many different reasons. Some are moving from a large house to smaller accommodation, some don't want the hassle of a large property, and some chose to live in rental property to avoid the high-cost of owning a home. Whatever the reason, this doesn't mean we can't garden. No space is too small for a small space garden. One plant in a container is a garden. In fact, ever more gardening options are available in terms of pots, half-barrels, window boxes, troughs, cast-iron planters, recycled materials ? the list is unending with possibilities.
Planning a Small Space Garden
When planning your small space garden several steps are fundamental. The first consideration is to determine what purpose this space will serve. Do you want to grow vegetables, herbs, entertain family and friends, meditate, create a place of peace, healing, a memorial garden ? the list is endless. Next, walk around your space and really look at what you have. Where are doors, sheds, permanent planters located? Is there any clutter? Clear out the clutter by asking yourself: 'Do I love it? Have I used it in the past year?' If it no longer serves you, turf it out, paint it or fix it, give it to somebody who needs it.
If possible, take a chair and sit down, move it around, and think about where the energy feels best for you. Wherever that is, place your seating such as a park bench, lounge, Muskoka chairs, dining furniture, swing, etc. Do you want a formal or informal setting? What features do you want? Features such as water, flowers, vegetables, herbs, wind chimes, wild life, colour, etc. add the finishing touches to your small space garden. Finally, make a plan particularly if you are going to use large features such as a half-barrel. Once filled with soil you will not want to be moving it.
Creating a Small Space Garden
Containers. Generally speaking natural materials such as wood, clay, stone, or cast iron in all their forms make better companions for plants. Remember that wet soil weighs a lot so if you garden on a balcony weight restrictions may apply. Containers made from lighter weight materials such as fibreglass are ideal for roof or balcony gardens. Styles of containers include hanging baskets, wirework stands and baskets, wood window boxes, sinks, troughs, galvanized buckets, old shoes or boots, bathtubs, old tires, and all manner of recycled objects.
Scale. Scale is extremely important in small space gardening. For example, small plants look more balanced in small containers, large plants in large containers. I especially like the effect of vines growing on trellis in half-barrels with smaller plants edging the container. In the half-barrels I use, I have grown many different vines but have found that the effect of scarlet runner pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is really a knockout with their gorgeous red flowers and you can eat them too.
Microclimates. Which plants prefer which location? Choose plants according to the conditions suitable for their optimum growth. Plants such as begonia (Begonia x semperflorens), coleus (Coleus x hybridous), and Fuchsia (Fuchsia x hybrida) prefer shaded areas while geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum), marigolds (Tagetes erecta), and petunia (Petunia x hybrida) prefer full sun. Wind can be a major factor and damage fragile plants. Choose plants that are wind tolerant such as many of the grasses; the sound of the rustling of the grasses as the wind blows through them is very pleasing to the ear.
Soil. I buy pre-mixed potting soil from the garden centers or shopping malls. These are generally lighter in weight to carry, sterilized to prevent weed seeds from germinating, and contain a lot of peat moss that helps loosen the soil so that it doesn't compact in pots. I also buy organic soil that doesn't have artificial chemicals added as I dump my pots of used soil into the garden where I grow vegetables.
Watering. Check daily as container plants often dry out more quickly. This is especially true if you are using clay pots. Make sure pots have drainage holes, as roots sitting in water will rot. When there has been excessive rain or water, empty saucers that are full. If you garden on a balcony sit plants on something to catch the water so that it doesn't run down on your neighbours.
Fertiliser. Due to frequent watering, container plants require fertiliser on a more consistent basis then plants in the ground do. Use organic fertilisers such as blood meal, bone meal, or fish emulsion, particularly if the soil is going to be added to the garden at the end of the season, as chemical fertilisers harm the wildlife.
Function. When you are creating your small space garden you are actually designing an outdoor room. Keep in mind that this can be colour co-ordinated to appear as an extension of your home. I move my indoor plants outside for the summer (which they love) and design these areas as garden rooms.
Focal point. Create a focal point such as a large pot, tall plant or tree, colour, or a water feature. Perennial vines such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) will grow in a large container and come back year after year. Create a sense of mystery by hiding a plant or ornament behind something else to give the pleasure of discovering it.
Colour. In a small space, use three colours such as pinks, blues, and whites; reds, oranges, and yellows; reds, whites, and blues; or reds, whites, and purples that provide continuity rather than too many colours which tend to be distracting. Cool colours make the space appear bigger and brighter while intense colours shrink spaces. A white and green colour theme called a 'moon garden' is more formal and particularly at night is spectacular. Many white flowers are fragrant at night as well.
Lighting. I especially like the small Xmas lights hidden in plants and interwoven throughout a trellis with climbing vines. Up lighting with small spotlights can focus attention on a particular area for evening entertaining.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace ? Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the book and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca
Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 ? 2005. All rights reserved.
Easy Care Of Phalaenopsis
Do you have a knack for being with moths? Most people would say, "no way". Yet, the moth orchids that I am talking about are the ones that sway nicely in the breeze and some of the newer hybrids have a nice fragrance. These moths are easy to care for, especially a beginner. These moths are found very frequently in gardens. These are the phalaenopsis orchids.
Pest Control Tips for Maintaining Your Greenhouse
Greenhouses provide a warm, humid atmosphere and are home to a variety of different plants and flowers which is why they are a perfect target for insects. There are numerous types of insects which will want to live in your greenhouse and feed off of the wonderful plants and flowers which you have put so much time and effort into maintaining. The information below will provide you with tips and guidelines to follow in order to ensure you are doing everything in your power to ward off any unwanted pests.
To Salt or Not to Salt Your Pond
The important question of whether or not to add salt to your pond is often confusing for beginners and forgotten by experienced pond-keepers. To newbies and pro's alike we have this to say:
Chives - Allium Schoenoprasum
Known as common garden chives, Allium schoenoprasum, can be grown indoors and out. Chives are rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. They are grown for the flavour of their leaves, which is reminiscent of onion, although much milder. Both the stems and light purple flowers are used in cooking and the snipped leaves are an addition to many dishes. Chives lose their flavour with long cooking so it is best to add them to dishes at the last minute. For chopping stems, a pair of scissors is the best tool.
Dill: Scandinavias Most Important Culinary Herb
The ancient herb, Anethum graveolens or Fernleaf dill as it is commonly known, was mentioned some 5,000 years ago in early Egyptian writings. It is the most important culinary herb in Scandinavia, as popular as parsley is in other parts of the world. The word 'dill' stems from the Old Norse word dilla, meaning "to lull," and can be grown indoors and out. The feathery leaves make dill a pretty foliage plant, which is lovely as a green foil for the flowers in your garden. The fragrance of dill on fingers evokes a 'comfort smell' for many people as the leaves smell of homemade dill pickles. Old-fashioned dill water or gripe water as it is commonly known (made by infusing crushed dill seeds in hot water), is still used as a remedy for indigestion in adults as well as children.
February in the Garden
Often in February there is a surprisingly warm day. Everybody sheds their coats and puts a bounce in their step. The next day they hear a snow plow at 4 AM. But the brief warmup gets you thinking "what is there to do in the landscape?"
Adirondack Furniture - What It is and Why You Want It
Adirondack is the name given to a style of furnishings that date back to the late 1800's. During this time period, immediately following the civil war, upstate New York gained notoriety as a popular tourist destination. People, mostly the rich, flocked to the lavish hotels and guest houses that dotted the rustic landscape of the Adirondack Mountain range to relax and enjoy the tranquility and atmosphere that could be found in these remote destinations.
Landscaping is a wonderful pastime enjoyed by many. It provides a natural beauty and needs no ornaments or other attractive items to help achieve its magnificence. What it does need, however, is a little TLC from you and great ideas to keep the landscape design ever changing and up to date.
Gardening Tips for Early - Mid July
Now we are fast approaching the hottest time of the year, there are still some things that can be done in the garden. Below are a few gardening tips for those that love the summer warmth. For you who aren't particularly appreciative of the hot hot, then do your gardening chores early in the morning.
I made my very first garden when I was six in a small corner at the end of my grandmother's garden. It was a small patch, not more than six rows by 10 plants long, but it was MINE, with the flowers I picked and the dirt that I dug. And I knew that it was mine when Nana helped me put up the sections of wire fencing that set it off from HER garden.
The String Algae Blues
Now that Spring is upon us and things are coming back to life in your pond with the warmer weather, many of us are battling with string algae. String algae is caused primarily by a combination of the buildup of organic nutrients in the water, and sunlight.
Hydroponics Gardening - An Introduction To Hydroponics Gardening For Beginners (Part 5) Plant Growth
PLANT GROWTH & PHYSIOLOGY. (Part 5)
Decorative Garden Accents
Think of your garden like you would a room in your home. After planning the shape, tilling the soil, choosing the right plants the last step is to add those personal touches. And just like indoors this is accomplished with accessories.
You Take The Vacation - Not Your Garden
If you are planning to go on vacation, there are some important tasks that you really must undertake to ensure that your garden continues to maintain that well cared for condition which you constantly strive for.
How to Grow Asparagus
Asparagus is a perennial plant with erect, edible stems and tiny branches that bear even tinier flowers that become red berries that contain the black Asparagus seed. Formerly in the Liliaceae family, botanists have realized that Asparagus is in a class by itself and have repositioned its 120 species in the Asparagaceae genus. Asparagus is a high-end gourmet food item, but if you know how to grow asparagus, it becomes an inexpensive way to add a delicate flavor to your meals.
Add Value to Your Home - Landscaping
Just recently my friend had his house appraised between $800,000 and $815,000 by two different independent house valuators. He spent two days hard work in the garden placing new grass on mats, bringing in new plants, putting creepers on the wall, and adding a water feature. He sold his house at an auction two weeks later for $853,500. It only took him a few hours of his work and a few thousand dollars to make a lot of profit.
Think of cyclamen and the chances are that Mothers Day immediately comes to mind, which is something of a pity. Now don't misinterpret me, there's nothing wrong with mothers or with having a day for them, but it does seem a little unfortunate when such beautiful, adaptable and useful plants become so commercialised that there's difficulty escaping that association.
Gardening on a Budget
When we moved into our south Anchorage log home I had glorious plans for the 1/3 acre lot. Some previous owner had chopped down every tree counting on the neighboring woodlands for green and shade. The house was near the street with a lumpy hilly and narrow backyard that ended in the neighbor's goat pen. I was young, enthusiastic and confident that my green thumb could transform our piece of Alaska into a glorious landscaped garden. Now, 20 years later the neighborhood has evolved from birch/spruce woods to suburban sprawl and I'm still working on the transformation and enjoying every season.
Fleur De Lotus: Purity in a Sullied World
Rising from a muddy pond, a lotus flower blossoms. Such epitome of purity in a turbid environment has sparked off much inspiration in ancient oriental literature and Buddhist teachings, shaping a repertoire of odes to the graceful demeanour and refreshing fragrance of the lotus.
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
The flittering of the butterfly through your garden is no accident if you planned your garden carefully. The adult butterfly flitters from flower to flower - sipping nectar from many flowers in your gardens, while other adult butterflies search for areas to lay their larvae. It is good to take note that the butterfly garden is going to differ from other areas of your garden. Your natural instincts will be to kill off pests, larvae and creatures in the garden, but in the butterfly garden your best results are noticed when you use organic gardening: Which means no chemicals at all.
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