It’s not exactly news that gardens have the power to nurture, delight and soothe the soul. Today’s small-space gardeners are expanding the idea of what a garden can be: using creative approaches by bringing gardening to their balconies, courtyards and rooftops, whether that means mixing ornamentals with edibles, devising innovative ways to reuse and recycle, or creating living wall art. Why settle for a few boring geraniums in a pot when you can take advantage of vertical spaces to create an urban oasis that’s uniquely yours, no matter what the size?
Lack of ‘growing’ space is a common concern that I hear from Fort McMurray residents: “I had lots of space for growing veggies back home, but I have nothing here.” Adding a garden to your small space, even a balcony can easily be done by gardening up! Did you know that you can grow squash vertically? It’s a great way to create a natural privacy ‘fence’ between you and your neighbours while at the same time producing an edible vegetable! A lush garden made with container plantings filters noise and dust, and actually helps cool the air that flows into your home. However utilized, plants can have a powerful impact on our sense of well-being, and provide pleasure by enhancing the views and attitudes of our space.
Layer up instead of out. My grandmothers planted geraniums, my mom continues to plant geraniums, and although there are all kinds of new and flashy varieties, there are so many other plants that will offer more dynamic to your garden. Even if you have a long skinny area, or a grouping of containers, think up. Grasses, vase-shaped shrubs and climbing vines that can easily be trained to grow flat are ways to add layers to your space. They don’t have to dominate the entire area with height, but when mixed with finely-textured perennials with airy habits and compact perennials that anchor the bottom to create a layered garden, it gives the space a charming appeal.
Although my mom still buys the classic red geraniums and yellow marigolds (I’m not sure she will ever quit) she has made progress over the past few years. Plants like butterfly flower (Gaura), ‘King Tut’ Grass (Cyperus) and Alyssum (Lobularia) are making their way into the garden and adding some much needed layers.