A green space for urban gardeners

Picking flowers, part 1: decisions, decisions, decisions


Mixing heights adds dimension.

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.


  Lynne Jordan wrote @

Okay. First things first. I have a lot of containers and pots from gardens past. I definitely want bright multi colors. Is that considered a color scheme?

And I want tomatoes and a little herb garden for the visual effect. I don’t really cook. I do like running my fingers thru the leaves and breathing in the fragrance.

I will try to do the seedling thing. And follow the advice you gave me.

  Mary Mitchell wrote @

Great site, Avis. My backyard still looks like a brownfield, but I’m not giving up. So I’ll be checking out your site daily.

  Fly Girl wrote @

What a cute photo of Melon! This is a nice inspirational gardening blog. How long have I been saying I’m going to plant an herb garden? Maybe this will nudge me this year.

  leslie wrote @

Congrats on a great debut, Avis! The blog is beautiful and we’ll be following how your garden grows. I’m excited about a pot I got for Christmas for growing herbs that has many balcony-like openings for different herbs! I’ll keep it handy on the porch.

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

Leslie and Fly Girl,
Thanks! And keep me updated on your herb gardens. We can exchange recipes using them!

With so many different lighting conditions you can create a very faceted garden! I’ll post with some possibilities soon.

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