Gardening without a garden.

Paul Rodger

Paul Rodger

While many of us might dream of a huge, rambling garden to get lost in on sunny afternoons, many of us have to make do with a little balcony or windowsill to get our fix of the great outdoors at home.

Don’t worry though, you can still have a wealth of greenery to bring you joy.

In some ways, a balcony or window ledge is the ideal outside spot; you don’t have any soil to hoe, any weeds to pull and any mud to track indoors; you’ve got just enough space to get your face out in the sun and a place to pop some pots. Not too much work, just enough to make it your own.

Before you begin you will need to figure out your basics. Safety first – are you above anyone? Could anything you hang or balance on the edge of your space fall and hurt anyone? Do you have a daredevil cat perhaps that could take a whole window box with them when scaling the rooftops? Checking your situation will help to determine how you affix your pots etc to your new little garden.

Next, establish the aspect of your space. Are you getting full sun most of the time, or none at all? Either way, it’s just a matter of choosing the plants that will work for your space, so don’t worry if you’re tucked away in the shadow, or sweltering in the harsh sun, there are plenty of plants to suit you.

Also think about how far you’ll need to be going with your watering can. A good rule of thumb is never to plant more than you can be bothered to water. There’s nothing worse than glancing out onto your only green space to see sad, crispy plants!

Choosing your plants.

Before you go plant shopping, you need to figure out how much sun, if any at, your space is getting.

If you’re blessed with sun then the hardy Geranium (Pelargonium) is your friend; that’s why they’re so popular in Mediterranean countries. They can withstand a lot of heat and even neglect (within reason!), they’re a great start for a splash of colour, with both upright and trailing varieties being perfect for a window box.

Your sunny spot is also a great place to cultivate your very own herb garden; rosemary, basil, sage and lavender will love your warm aspect and be an endless supply of flavour for your kitchen. No more spending out on over-packaged bunches from the supermarket that slowly turn to mush in the bottom of your fridge!

If you’ve got a space in the shade, fear not, you’ll still be able to grown plenty of hardy, beautiful plants. A shade garden means texture, you can have vast amounts of interest in beautiful leaves instead of flowers.

Plants like ferns, Hostas and even tropical-like specimens like Fatsias all love a shady spot.

Once you’ve got your plants sorted you can concentrate on dressing your area.

Think of it as an extension of your house, another room of sorts. You’ll be able to look out on it, so utilise all the space you can. Playing with levels is great for this; pots can be tiered to give you more to look at, or grouped together, using different shapes, to add to your textures and colours.

If you’re able to hang things safely on your balcony edge or window ledge, you needn’t stick to a traditional window box, how about utilising some interesting pots?

If you’re working with window ledges, densely planted boxes and hanging baskets are a great way to show off your green fingers. As long as you keep up your watering you’ll have a great show all year round, with some seasonal updates to keep things interesting.

Lastly, if you really don’t have green fingers but love to see nature from your window don’t despair; there are plenty of gardeners who specialise in bespoke pots, window boxes or baskets who can lend a hand.

A springtime show in a Finsbury Park client’s front garden
Brightening up an otherwise dingy shady corner in Crouch End
Bringing some interest to a boring front step in Crouch End
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