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.
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.