My eyes are shut, my lungs are trying to take in all the fragrant, floral air, my ears tingling with the rustle of leaves and I feel like Reese Witherspoon sitting right in the center of a floral paradise swinging mildly to Katie Melua’s Just Like Heaven track until…I am harshly brought back to reality with a car honking loudly at me while I try to get some semblance of mind in a local park. Sigh! It’s just a dream! Natural, green landscapes, trees, and blooming flowers, that were such an integral part of our growing up years, can only be seen now either in municipal gardens or old bungalows.
Even though I am one of those lucky few who can still boast of having a home garden, (thanks to my lovely MIL who painstakingly manicures and maintains it every single day!), I can’t afford to have one in an expensive place like Bangalore! That’s when I decided to conjure up a little green oasis in my apartment balcony which I fondly refer to as my Green Heaven! Here are a few ideas if you are keen on raising the green quotient in your homes –
Keep It Simple: Pure logic – Try keeping plants that are easier for you to maintain. Having a lot of plants in the balcony might seem like a great idea in the beginning, but can get overwhelming in the long run. And if you think you can handle lots of plants, then go slow initially and gradually scale up. Also, if you not keen on keeping too many pots in the little space, try vines and creepers. With little care, they will be all over the place! Literally!
Keep ‘em Bright & Interesting: Red, blue, yellow, orange, green, and even pink and purple! You will be amazed at the planter colours available in the markets these days! They don’t just make your balconies look good, but also uplift your mood instantly. Also, try and get unconventional planters (like animal shaped) to give an interesting dimension to your balcony! So, go all out and splash your home with colourful planters!
Railing & Wall Planters: These can be a good solution to the space crunch in the balcony since they are either mounted on the railings or walls, leaving the floor free and clean. Even hanging baskets make for a great option for herbs and flowers; especially if you’re an organic gardener. Such planters are available aplenty on online gardening stores and also in other home décor stores. Once you start looking, you will find a lot of specialist firms specialising in balcony makeovers and their absolutely breathtaking range of colourful planters everywhere! So, whether you mount them on your railing or on the walls or just keep them hanging, these little beauties will ensure your garden looks dazzling!
Stand Them Up: Try to invest in good quality planter stands and you don’t need to look very far. Just ask your neighbourhood fabricator to make them for you. They are ergonomic, have excellent storage space for planters and make your balcony look clean and organised. For instance, I got these two blue 3-tier nesting stands fabricated for both sides of my balcony. These stands not only accommodate at least 15 garden pots, but also fit inside each other and look good against the white railing. There is no dearth of designs in these stands, so rake your brains, think of a design that will suit your little place and go ahead and get one customised for your pots. After all, who doesn’t like an organised green corner?
Variety is the Spice of a Balcony: Indulge in a mix of good quality perennial and flowering plants, such as petunia, plumeria/frangipani, geranium, amaranthus, anthurium, crotons, ficus, palms, ferns, bougainvillea, money plant, lucky bamboo etc. to spice up the colour and greenery in your homes. They are low maintenance, easy on your pocket, long lasting and most importantly, look absolutely beautiful and instantly change the look and feel of the balcony. Also, try and group similar species of plants together – its looks better and appealing.
The Blooming Wall: In a space challenged apartment like mine, vertical gardening is THE thing for us! Although initial installation might be expensive (that is if you’re really keen on involving the experts), its final outcome is beautiful and the array of plants you can grow in vertical planters is endless – herbs, vegetables, fruits, bright flowers, ferns, succulents, and even different varieties of grass! Just imagine vibrant red strawberries and lush cherry tomatoes on your wall and the aroma of home-grown rosemary and thyme coming straight out of your kitchen! Vertical gardens don’t just soothe your eyes, but also filter out the dust and keep your home clean. What’s more, if you’re a DIY junkie like me, you can easily make one for yourself with basic carpentry skills. I am convinced enough to get a vertical garden done in my little balcony, aren’t you?
Don’t shy away from Using ‘That’ Space: Try to maximise greenery in your home by utilising spaces you normally don’t use – window sills, balcony parapet, unused kitchen shelves and island corners, etc. All you got to do is take care that the plants receive some amount of sunlight and water them and prune them regularly; they will be happy staying indoors!
DIY and Have Fun: Nothing comes close to the satisfaction you get when you personally put in some effort to make your green heaven look beautiful. There are so many creative ideas which you can apply to your garden to give it that personal touch. I applied my mosaic skills (learnt in a local workshop) into transforming plain terracotta planters into bright colourful ones and they look stunning! Next on my list – herb garden from wooden pallets and Mason jar planters. Exciting, isn’t it? Unused tin cans, old dresser, wine bottles, old tyres, PVC pipes…the world of creativity is endless!Basic Plant Care & Other Accessories: I am an amateur gardener and I like to read up on gardening and take tips from experienced gardeners on various things such as planting media, water, sunlight, seeds, fertilizers, organic pesticides, and plant types. As for the accessories, you can stock things like a cosy hammock, colourful votives, chimes, up cycled birdcages, terracotta/fibre figurines for giving an idyllic touch to your balcony and a few hanging lanterns/ fairy lights for a cool evening drink with your friends. Also, if the space permits, throw in a couple of chairs and a small table for that joy of having a perfect cuppa of tea/coffee in the mornings in your green heaven.
So, next time, if you think that you can’t be bothered about gardening due to space crunch in your home, think again…because you might be able to create one for yourself! Where was I?…Aah…a steaming cup of tea in my urban oasis! Do let us know if these ideas worked out for you!!