It’s not officially summer yet, but here in Florida, I think we can call it early. If the temperatures and tropical storms on the horizon aren’t enough of a giveaway, leave it to nature and the garden to provide the ultimate testimony. In living color.
Here in Zone 9, seasonal changes are not as pronounced as in cold weather climes, but nonetheless there still are plants that rest and go dormant while waiting for “summer” to make a triumphant return. And seeds can take root in short order—whether you plant them yourself or they blow in on a balmy tropical breeze. (Not a bad metaphor for a returning transplant like myself!)
Case in point: I recently observed the phenomenon in a hedge along the front of the house… It hadn’t been trimmed in a while and isn’t known to flower, yet suddenly towering shoots appeared to be sprouting from it with clusters of orange flowers bursting forth. After a closer look I realized that the shoots weren’t part of the hedge, but a vine not included in the original landscape plan that had arrived of its own accord, in a defiant act of self-propagation. Now it was entwined Read the rest of this entry »
It often feels like so much of balcony gardening comes down to waiting on the weather. More than one post on this blog has pivoted on the intemperate turns the weather has taken here in Chicago.
And some of my weather adventures in my small-space balcony garden high above the city streets have bordered on slapstick—at least in retrospect (smile). Not quite as funny in real time when I was scurrying about in overpowering winds trying to right terracotta pots only to have them Read the rest of this entry »
For the longest time, I wasn’t sure if it would make it. Many of the vibrant leaves—a splattering of ruby red over white over lime green (a little like an abstract canvas)—had turned brown and shriveled at the edges.
But remarkably, it’s rebounded! The sickly looking leaves have fallen away, and the new leaves are healthy and standing proud.
Of course, too much or too little sun isn’t the only thing that stresses garden plants. Just changing
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Confession time. I didn’t clean up the wilted and battered relics of my balcony container garden at the end of last season before the soil froze over. I also have been slow to get this season’s garden up and running. I add a random plant here, sprinkle a few seeds there, sweep up one corner of my deck one day, bag up a broken pot the next.
As you can imagine it’s been slow going and frankly, it’s still a work in progress. But I suppose a garden always is, right? You’re constantly making changes and additions, and of course marveling at the surprise changes not of your own making.
One of the advantages of procrastinating with my small, urban garden is that it gives some of the plants that have re-seeded on their own a chance to pop up and perhaps set the basis for the overall arrangement. I recognize the leaves of one of my standard bearers, petunias, at their very early stages so it was easy to begin work from there.
And alas, dear gardeners, if you were steadfast in your watering through the oppressive heat of the past couple of weeks, you, too, are likely enjoying the fruits — and flowers — of your efforts. (And openly marveling at just how much your plants have grown.)
The 100-plus thermometer readings created an outdoor hothouse effect that had varieties like the yellow and orange lantana (in the second photo) reaching out with arm-like chutes — happy to receive the sunshine being offered.
“Hot town, summer in the city.”
Mercifully, after several days of extreme, upper 90s heat, Chicago received relief today.
Not only was it about 10 degrees cooler, but we also were treated to a nice drenching rain. For urban container gardeners who’ve had to be super vigilant about keeping those plants hydrated, it’s good to get a night off.
Yes, I said “night,” because as we’ve covered previously, that’s the absolute best time to water. “…at night it’s a different world.”
Plus, in this case, it saves the dedicated gardener having to labor beneath the day’s ultra-violet rays.
When I pull out my bag of stockpiled seeds it’s like hitting the reset button on the thrill of a new garden.
I get to pick through the wacky assorted packets I just couldn’t pass up when the grocery store decided to clear its shelves, the splurge purchases from the garden center that were never opened, previously opened envelopes that still have seeds left over, and, not least, the seeds I harvested from gardens past.
The first order of business is creating two stacks — one consisting of seeds for edibles, the other of seeds for flowers.
The edibles cache turned out wonderfully; I found seeds for herbs, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes. In fact, I had an embarrassment of riches and was able to choose from multiple tomatoes for the two pots I’ll eventually set out on the balcony for my container garden. Black plum and Ildi were the heirlooms I decided to plant this year — both small fruit varieties sized right for a small urban space.