Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Balcony Rises from the Ashes

When I first moved into my apartment, I was a little too excited about having a patch of the outdoors to call my own. I had visions of home-grown tomatoes, little herb gardens, enjoying cool afternoons lounging outside with a glass of wine. I was so eager to get started that things moved pretty quickly once I discovered that Target's garden section had all the Coleus plants I could ever want (Coleus is a shade plant, which was great since my balcony literally NEVER sees direct sunlight). Here's what my balcony looked like not long after I moved in:

It's almost as though it were a fairytale. I got two chairs from CB2 (on sale for $30 each!) as well as those awesome cube planters. IKEA provided the laptop table, rug and round metal planters, including the little ones hanging on the railing. <3

It looked lovely for a couple months. Unfortunately it was unknown to me that something called "downy mildew" basically infected Coleus and basil plants throughout the entire state of California, for which there was no cure (that didn't involve drowning them in fungicide). My coleus and basil plants died pretty slowly and dramatically, first by hosting a fair amount of mildew, losing brown rotted leaves one-by-one, then by hollowing out the main stem in a final display of what I can only describe as "plant suicide". I was left with some tomato, herbs and Dracaena. After a coldish "winter", all but the Dracaena was alive, and this is what my balcony had been reduced to:

Yeah, not a lot of wine drinking and relaxing going on out here! Even Teako doesn't want to stand on that cold 'n' dusty concrete.

With the weather warming up, I decided to start anew, but this time I would stick to plants that grew really well in the local area. On our walks with Teako, I had paid close attention to the flora and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. As of this last weekend, here is what the balcony looked like:

Ahhhhhhh so much better! It's not quite as colorful and lush as the coleus version, but I have a good feeling about these guys. Here's a breakdown:

Phormium plant on sale due to reverting
(losing pink color), but we liked it
Herbs and tomatoes: parsley, chives, cilantro, rosemary, thyme.
Orange Libertia grass added for color
"Lemon Lime" Dracaena, my only winter survivor
Bottle Rush Reeds
Pink Panther Phormium, Dracaena, Orange Libertia
and Nasturtium (the round-leafed ones)
Pink Panther up close
Aeonium Arboreum of the succulent variety.
I just love this plant
More Nasturtium and a bed of Reindeer moss
Front to back: sage, chives, parsley, thyme
Weber Grill
That Weber Grill is pretty much the best $60 I've ever spent. It's easy to clean, heats up quickly and cook the most delicious food ever. I've made the best chicken, steak, salmon and burgers of my life on this little guy. Some people confess that they keep this one inside of their huge fancy grills because it's just that good.

So there's the current status of the balcony. If I manage to kill these hardy plants, I might have to face the fact that I do, in fact, have a black thumb. But let's hope that's not the case.

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