A green space for urban gardeners

Garden payoff: On an evening like this, it all makes sense

A gentle breeze, temperate weather and thriving container plants — some in full flower, others on the cusp of revealing their beauty… Such was the scene  this evening on my downtown Chicago balcony.

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.

My containers’ bare spots have filled in, and I’ve even been pleasantly surprised by the comeback of some plants that I’d all but given up on. For instance, I started out with a set of 18 small lisianthus plants — six each of blue, yellow and pale green. Since this is a palette that is very pleasing to my eye, I grouped two of each shade in three side-by-side 36-inch planters attached to my balcony railing.

Apparently, though, that configuration wasn’t in the cosmic design plan. One after another, the plants began dying off. Eighteen eventually dwindled to six, and I had little faith that even the six would prevail.

Nonetheless, I juggled what remained and put them in the two outside planters (for visual balance) and left the middle one lisianthus-free.

I didn’t have high hopes for the six, but lo’ and behold, they’ve hung in there, and as you can see from the first photo, the buds are dangerously near being ready for their closeups. Of course, who knows what color combos will ultimately unfurl when the sun finally teases them out of their cocoons (I lost track of which plants were which in the shifting process).

But after facing down the harsh elements to finally reach this point of pleasure, the element of surprise is one that’s a welcome arrival to my garden.

[Also seen in photo 1 are petunias and the purple, heart-shaped leaves of sweet potato vine.]


  Garden Blogger wrote @

Well rescued. I have the opposite problem, living in the UK, we don’t get enough sun and too much rain. Many of my flowers have died this summer due to be over-watered. I am going to invest in a greenhouse next year I think.

  Stephanie of Steph’s Green Space wrote @

How’s things now, Avis? Have a great summer and enjoy the flowers 😀

  AW wrote @

Hi Stephanie,
How are you? I haven’t begun blogging this season, but plan on starting up later this week. Believe it or not it was pretty chilly today, but I was outside on the balcony putting plants in and getting my nails dirty! What’s the weather like there?

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