If the saying is “a builder’s house is never built” then does that mean a horticulturist’s garden is never grown? In my case I think it may be true.
Living in an apartment block doesn’t give me the pleasures of having a proper garden and lawn, but since we’ve lived here, I’ve accumulated quite a few pots and planters with the hope of growing some perennials, but mostly annuals. Generally when spring comes around (like now!) I get all excited and go out and buy a whole lot of annuals, usually petunias and fill up my hanging pots and troughs so that hopefully by summer I have a balcony that looks somewhat close to the typical hanging basket you’d find outside a British pub during their summer. I think in the first spring/summer we lived here, I got very close to that look, but as the years went by, the amount of flowering plants during summer dwindled. Oh except for the Christmas’ the in-laws came to stay from England
I’d find by the time summer came around, every spare moment was either going out for a picnic or going to the beach and on the days that I was at home, it was way to hot to go and tend to the balcony garden (yes, I know, excuses! Excuses!) And by February all I had left were some dried, leggy plants that had too many days of not enough water and were hanging on for dear life.
I had never been too bothered with trying to grow edible plants. I have a husband who doesn’t like to eat the fun things to grow – tomatoes and strawberries, so I didn’t want to grow things that we couldn’t eat up and I would have to give most of it away. Earlier this year, as I grew more and more confidant with my cooking ability and experimenting (Thank you Masterchef!), I decided to start the edible plant collection with some herbs as we usually use dried herbs in our cooking anyways. I started off with some basics – rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, chives and mint. The chives didn’t last too long, they were gobbled up quick smart by insects. The mint, poor thing, lasted a few months, but ended up being decimated by white flies and caterpillars. And when the caterpillars finished with the mint, they moved onto the basil and oregano. By the end of 3 months I was only left with the thyme and rosemary. My rosemary was going gang busters until a combination of a week of heavy rain and constant snipping of sprigs for dinner killed it off a few weeks ago. My thyme however, it still going strong. For some reason, the insects didn’t touch it and it’s not too fussed if it doesn’t get any water for a few weeks or gets absolutely drenched for a whole week.
So that brings me to now. I was sitting in an almost windowless office at work last Saturday morning and all I was reading on Twitter and Facebook was everyone commenting on how lovely the weather was and I decided it was time to do my annual buying and planting of plants in the hope of a pretty garden in December.
I bought some herbs – basil, rosemary and mint, a cherry tomato plant, a punnet of capsicums and a strawberry plant. I also bought a mega-punnet of mixed colour petunias for the hanging baskets just to add a bit of colour to the balcony.
I have promised myself to make a concerted effort to make more use of our balcony and the more I’m out there, the more I will take notice of the plants and their wellbeing and hopefully it will produce a bountiful edible garden with lots and lots of colourful flowers.
We’ll see how long this lasts…