When I started my first balcony garden several seasons back I admit there was very little method to my madness. I raided the local nursery, home improvement store, grocery store — pretty much any sidewalk that boasted eye-catching plants for sale.
And though I’m still not completely invulnerable to impulse purchases, I am a little more deliberate in my selections. I typically choose a color scheme to work from ahead of time; most of what I pick are annuals (perennials generally don’t flower in the first season and they don’t usually survive Chicago’s cold winters in containers, although sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised); I order a number of plants from catalogs because they offer much more variety than the average home improvement store; I balance my planters with a mix of low growing, taller and trailing selections, and, I start many things from seed — most notably my heirloom tomatoes.
Today I’m determined to narrow the countless circled flowers in my catalog down to a manageable amount and place the orders; I’ve found that if you don’t get them in now you risk the growers running out of something you really want. (Don’t worry, the plants aren’t shipped till the climate in your zone dictates. In Chicago, conventional wisdom advises waiting till after Mother’s Day to put your plants out.) If you’re just starting out and aren’t on the catalog mailing lists you can go directly to the growers’ Web sites (I’ve listed a couple of links in the Blogroll at the far right of this page).
So, consider your space, think about what you’d like your garden to be, and let’s meet back here with ideas and questions about what to do next.