Thursday, 10 April 2014

My Little Balcony of Happiness




It is nearly four years since I gave up my garden, along with my beautiful house and my husband.  It's the garden that I miss, the garden that was hardest to leave.  I went from a large house and garden to a two bedroom apartment with a long narrow balcony shaded by large cedar trees.  The balcony was a very generous size for a rental apartment but the growing conditions were tricky and in the three years I lived there, I was always experimenting, trying to find out what would grow in a spot that got little sun except for in the summer months when from 3pm to 7pm there was direct and hot sunlight that shone through the gaps in the trees.  The struggling plants I grew also had to contend with both a cat and a small dog who ate them and the daylily foliage was apparently particularly tasty.

Last summer I bought the condominium I live in now. I hate that word condominium or condo, and am trying to settle on a different term for it.  Flat sounds pretentious if one lives in North America and here an apartment usually refers to a rental whereas a condo is one you own.  I am leaning towards castle in the sky though it's a bit of a mouthful.  Anyhow, I digress, as usual.  This is about plants.  The balcony I have here is half the size of the one I had in the rental place but it's sunny and has a view of ocean and mountains so I can't complain.  I wasn't sure what I could accommodate in terms of plants and the accompanying pots and still have room for a chair or two.  It's debatable whether or not I am leaving adequate room for chairs, and the chairs I have are a bit small and thus not terribly comfortable so I must keep in mind that I will eventually want to replace them.   So, last summer when I moved in I brought with me what I deemed to be the most likely to succeed and of course most essential plants, a climbing rose and a tree because doesn't everyone grow those things on a small balcony?

I had close to thirty roses in my previous garden so only having one, and choosing which that one would be was not as easy as it sounds.  I chose a rose called Westerland which is always vigorous, healthy, tolerant of low sunlight, gorgeous in colour and intoxicating in fragrance.   The tree is a Japanese Maple grown from seed so of no particular named variety but nice colour that changes with the seasons.  A few primroses from my garden are tucked into the pot in which the tree grows.  I have a couple of dwarf evergreens and a few herbs which need a bit of refreshing/replacing this year.  I had to have my favourite Hosta, Krossa Regal,  and I always like to accompany it with a white pelargonium/geranium.  As pedestrian as they are, I love these colourful geraniums and they are always going to give you your money's worth.  This spring I have added a few bright pink ones to my balcony garden as well.  I bought some pansies today, happy to know that on the third floor I will not wake one morning to find them eaten by the deer.

This is the Westerland Rose last summer.  It has doubled it's size already this spring.


I am in danger of treating my balcony like it's a giant window box and filling it with plants, forgetting to leave room to actually step out onto it.  When I do step out I have borrowed gardens to enjoy as well.  Here is what I see when I look down.
I have to pinch back those pansies and geraniums to get them to grow more lushly.  It's so hard to do that and temporarily sacrifice the flowers.  I still have to find some attractive pots for the ivy plants and some more herbs to go with the trailing rosemary, I'm thinking of parsley, sage and thyme of course!

And if looking at the lovely gardens around me and sitting amongst my own plants isn't enough, when I look out my windows or look over the garden from my balcony, I look at the sea and the mountains of The Vancouver Island Range.  Some day I will get a telephoto lens for photographing the many birds, including bald eagles I so often see  here.  The bay is closer to me than it appears in this photo, just like the cars in your side mirror.






 

13 comments:

  1. totally view envy!!!!
    and that from me, living in the "cutest" mountains of the world!
    it must be great to watch the weather and sun over the bay and mountains.
    that westerland rose is beautiful, such pretty color. and i LOVE pansies. they have faces like a slavic granny, a look i aim for in the future. and the smell is so lovely.
    all in all - i think your balcony will look like a little oasis in summer. where you can sit and drink tea with us via internet ;-)
    xxxx

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    1. I didn't know your mountains were cute! I once lived in a place in norther BC where they had a little wee hill which they called a mountain. Beat Mountain. I called it Bear Bump.
      I love pansies too. I love all flowers, though pansies are definitely in my top one hundred. From my balcony and even from my big windows I watch the clouds, the birds, the water and the mountains all changing with the weather. I love it!
      The balcony floor needs a bit of a scrub, which is not nearly as fun as playing with my flowers but still must be done.
      xo

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  2. Oh, how I envy you your view! Sea and mountains, and Vancouver Island no less! We have fond memories. Your little balcony is a gem, and a gardener's gem at that! And your trellis is gorgeous, never mind the rose :-) I love climbing roses, and I never really see the point of roses without scent. So glad yours has one. I'm imagining sitting on your glorious balcony smelling the roses and herbs, watching the eagles, and having a cuppa with you. Aaahhhh!

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    1. Did you visit Vancouver Island? Whereabouts did you go? You must definitely drop in for a cuppa next time you are here!
      xo

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  3. We live in such an amazing place, neighbor! The view from your balcony is gorgeous, no wonder you love your apartment so much! View from our cottage is also the best and most amazing home decor we have. :)

    You are creating such an adorable, inviting garden, Shawna! I will find photos of my container gardens I created over the years, and you'll see that I did not really have a place to sit there (when we lived in apartment) - it was almost all pots with flowers, bushes and trees. :) So yes, I understand what you are talking about. I am of course much less thoughtful and more spontaneous with my choices of plants. So I just kept experimenting. Some of them did not survive. But all in all, in the summer, it was such a beautiful oasis. Your photos really reminded me of those years. :)

    You have a very pretty garden under your apartment too, that's perfect! But I do understand that you miss your big "real" garden...

    We call viola tricilor and pansies too "eyes of Antyutka" (Anyutka would be like Little Anya, a tender way to call a girl named Anna). Анютины глазки in Russian. They are among my favorite flowers too. They are so happy!

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    1. I love the variations on names that you have in your language. Sometimes I think English is a wonderful language and other times I think it is so dull. I would love to see the photos of your container gardens! I was much more spontaneous when I had a big garden, but now, with limited space and energy to manage it, I have to think more about what I will plant and sadly walk past so many things I love at the nursery when I am shopping. My balcony is only about four by ten feet.

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  4. What a beautiful view you have from your balcony, Shawna. And though you miss your old garden, you are making the most of the outside space you have, it looks so pretty and inviting. A gorgeous rose, pansies, geraniums, an acer, and herbs to come - perfect! I always think the earthy smell of geranium leaves is the true smell of gardening. xxx

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    1. I love my garden to be scented and that does not always mean sweet scents. I think the scent of spring rain on freshly turned soil is very much a scent I love too. I realise I am truly very fortunate to live where I do and have nothing to complain about, though missing my garden involves so much more than just what I see out the window.
      xo

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  5. Over here it would be called a flat or a unit ... so condo sounds pretty glamorous in comparison.
    It looks to me like you are making the most of the space you have ... and nobody ever said a garden had to be big to be beautiful ... did they????
    xx

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    1. We call it a suite sometimes, though that sounds like a hotel. There is just no pleasing me. I think that in my mind a condo is something you find in a big city and I actually live in a small town. A condo is decorated with modern decor and is either an old factory with exposed brick walls or a new building with clean modern architecture. Or, here in this small town, it is a place where all the old people live.
      So let's go with castle in the sky. ;-)
      xo

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  6. What a beautiful balcony, and view! I love Vancouver Island, in fact the whole sound. I used to live in Seattle, and I met my husband in Victoria, so I'm very jealous of you right now!

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    1. Thank you, Val. I am indeed very fortunate to live here. I was born and raised here though did spend a few years living in northern BC where I did not like it at all. I went to university in Victoria so lived there for several years too. I did not realise what a beautiful place I lived in until I grew up and had the chance to travel. I certainly don't take it for granted anymore! Is your husband Canadian? Does he have family on the island?

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  7. How I loved Victoria when we lived there. My husband took a couple of years of University there. All your photos are making me miss it even more. When I lived there I was also a bit obsessed about gardens. They are so easy to grow there. Unlike here where the season is so short.

    The mountains and the ocean. Is there anything more calming or lovely? The perfect spot for a writer such as yourself.

    Every time I get the chance I love to return to the Island. My favourite place was East Sooke park.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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