CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Flowering plants

Care and maintenance of plants in the urban container garden

The dead blooms on this geranium need to be removed for aesthetics and to promote new flower production. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The dead blooms on this geranium need to be removed for aesthetics and to promote new flower production. (Click on image to enlarge.)

I remove the flowers that form on herbs like this Thai basil periodically.

I remove the flowers that form on herbs like this Thai basil periodically.

In some respects, we urban container gardeners have it easier than those of you with lush, never-ending yard gardens.

For example, there are no raccoons, squirrels or deer nibbling away at the plants of my 10th-floor Chicago balcony garden. And I never have the wits scared out of me by slithering soft-bodied invertebrates or slippery gastropods.

Weeds? Unless delivered by way of a seed dropped as one of our feathered friends buzzes overhead, weeds just don’t exist in my world.

But, in order to keep our small verdant spaces looking pristine throughout a long summer, even container gardeners have to suffer through deadheading and other routine upkeep necessary Read the rest of this entry »

Blue review: undeclared flower seedlings show true colors

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DSC00646My plan was to strike a certain color balance in the garden this year. Blue was to be dominant, followed by yellow, then pops of red-orange and pale greens.

After buying numerous seeds, and supplementing those with online plant orders, I became a little concerned that I might wind up with blue overload. Well, leave it to happenstance to alter the landscape…

Some of the blue seeds that I planted in the peat pellets never sprouted, and I had a couple that sprouted, but later the seedlings dried up. Suddenly, I was facing the prospect of possibly having much less blue than I’d wanted.

Then, after the unusually cold spring and early summer — not to mention my unique challenges Read the rest of this entry »

Growth: Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there

DSC00546DSC00548I’ve been slow to post this week for the simple reason that I felt like not much was happening in my garden.

Replacements for lost plants had been set out and new seeds sown where necessary. The weather has been warm and sunny. I’ve been diligent about my watering and feeding. And, the drama going on with the repairs to my building seems to be in its last gasp.

So, it was the plants’ turn to get busy and fulfill the lush, colorful vision I put forth for my balcony Read the rest of this entry »

Time to play ‘name that plant’ (or ‘plants,’ as the case may be)

DSC00479DSC00480There’s something growing in my garden. That’s the good news.

The more perplexing news is that in this particular case I’m not sure of what exactly it is.

You see, a terra cotta pot from last season that sat on the balcony through the winter sprouted and filled up with so many lovely, dainty leaves that I decided to just let it be and see what developed.

It’s developed into what you see here: a profusion of lacy edged leaves with some taller spikes boasting thinner leaves protruding at intervals. And now it looks as though those spiky protrusions are on the verge of flowering. (Click Read the rest of this entry »

Progress report: Hey, there’s actual progress to report!

DSC00467DSC00466DSC00471The 4th of July was the kind of day every garden needs — to my mind, at least once a week or so. It rained all day, not a hard, raucous rain, but a soft and gentle one. A rain that caressed the plants — from leaf to root — encouraging them to new heights.

And, of course, it gave the weary container gardener a day’s reprieve from having to hoist the watering vessel.

By Sunday morning the rain was a misty memory, and by the afternoon I was able to get out on the balcony and take advantage of the last day of the three-day hiatus from workers doing their best Spider-man impressions on the south face of our building.

I surveyed the planters and pots and took stock of what needed to be done to fill in the thin spots. I think I’ve mentioned before that I had extra plants in a flat that I held on to in case I needed to replace Read the rest of this entry »

Plants – and temperatures – go from one extreme to another

DSC00437Downtown Chicago’s weather went from zero to 60 seemingly overnight. Or, more accurately, from 60 to 90 — degrees that is. A great time to get my plants back outside, right?

Not necessarily… While sun and heat would appear to be the perfect prescription for perking up plants that had been sentenced to home confinement for days on end, it proved too much of a good thing for some. Here’s a recap:

On the upside, despite their time indoors (after work to the facade of my building forced me to clear my balcony garden), my flowering plants boxes still looked pretty good. [The lobelia pictured is a prime example.]

But, my herb/edibles planters were a different story. The marigold foliage had gone from bright Read the rest of this entry »

Raindrops help make a clean sweep in garden after dirty job

DSC00423I’ve never thought of myself as eccentric, but I dare say others might — had they seen me outside today. In the rain. Using an extension pole cleaning wand to wash down the clerestory windows above my balcony sliders.

In my defense, it was a light rainfall. And no thunder or lightning was involved.

The good news is that after three days of relentless banging, followed by the whirring and grinding sound of a metal blade meeting brick and mortar, I think the work above my balcony is finished. The metal scaffolding was mechanically Read the rest of this entry »

Flower boxes look good for now; but, I definitely need a new plan

DSC00403DSC00413No, dear friends, my plants are not happily basking outside today as I had planned.

Not because the weather didn’t hold up. Not even because I didn’t want to repeat all that lifting just to do it again in reverse a day and a half later. No, after stepping out onto my balcony with the best of intentions, I looked up — and then backed out. Or rather, backed back in… into my condo, that is.

I decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to tempt fate and mess about outside while a huge metal scaffolding platform hung overhead — no Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, my aching back: More stress than calm in garden this week

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A planter box (top) and tomato pot (above)

Sometimes you have to wonder if your garden is serving you or if you are serving your garden. The rhetorical question reared its head this week as I played musical chairs with my balcony garden plants.

Let me explain: Work is being done to the facade of our building and the dreaded stage was finally slated for my elevation on Tuesday. So, by 3 a.m. that morning I had painstakingly brought in five railing planter boxes, cell packs of flowers that I haven’t yet made room for, and too many clay Read the rest of this entry »

This and that: plant finds, artful secateurs, project updates

DSC00325DSC00339DSC00309There will come a point this summer when the phenomenon of “cooler by the lake” will provide a welcomed reprieve. But for now, when downtown Chicago can’t seem to string together two 70-plus days in a row, it’s not of great comfort.

Meanwhile my sprouts are outside fending for themselves over the cool nights and variably cloudy days. All the rain of late has washed away some of their identifying labels, so figuring out what’s what is going to be a challenge.

Oh well, I never promised you a rose garden. However, I do have a progress report on the projects started inside — plus some new plants and a very chic garden tool — to share with you: Read the rest of this entry »