I usually get all excited about the garden right in the springtime, after I've rearranged and tidied up. I delayed it this year for a couple of reasons you probably don't care about (where's the art, lady??).
1: I didn't get to go plant hunting this year due to everything suddenly surviving.
2: The real exciting stuff happens after spring, because I never grow actual flowers.
I'm trying to accept my mostly-shade situation, and am gearing toward more coloured or exciting foliage (I get sick of green).
This is the first year of the self-watering containers and they are a hit! My twig of a lavender grew into a ratty collection of twigs. I'm staking it now to see if I can topiary it. But what is really great this year is how well the calamondin (center) came back after mostly dying. It's almost a normal green colour, with no scales, and this recent heatwave triggered its first flowering in several years. I'M SO EXCITED.
Watering the hell out of this planterbox, combined with the heatwave, is bringing the creeping jenny back to life. Not much good has come for the juncus grass though. It looks awful. Major surgery is scheduled soon. I'm thinking of chopping it in half. Should it be quartered?? Where will I put its other half??
This year I learned that "Coprosma" literally translates into "poopstink". Ha ha ha. For the record, there is no stink on this plant. This plant which started out as a 4 inch baby last year and is now a 2.5 foot beast. It looks way too pale, but the leaves are still so dang pretty on this one. Chose this one for the red foliage (to battle the greens), but it only feels like making yellow-green this year. Next time.
Only one of the old strawberries (center) survived my negligent, dry winter. But it is breeding up a storm regardless. I'm pretty sure there are 5 in there now. On the right is the purple smokebush I've desired for so long. It's looking pretty alive, not too happy... and also NOT VERY PURPLE, LIKE WWHYYYYY. I'm trying to fight the greens, guys. What are you doing to me. It needs more sun exposure. There are a few purple leaves, but that's all I get until we move somewhere sunny. Hang in there, smoky!
Last year I also decided to give up on succulents. They don't grow much and they shrivel out of existence in the winter, even when I bring them indoors. Even the sedum, which is supposed to be the easiest, doesn't like me. The jades, however, are such a delight. They've grown at least twice their original size. I'm hoping they grow and grow forever because they are pretty darn rad.
Turning the too-dry strawberry tower (right) into a weed tower was mostly a success! They drape nicely all the way to the floor. Seeds everywhere. Every once in a while, a pot will die back, but there's usually another weed growing in another container. I just rip it up and throw it in the tower and it re-roots there. That stubborn bastard is working for me now. That blueberry on the left still does nothing but looks gangly and kind of dumb.
Finally, this is the most exciting and new thing this year: polka dot. I bought it on a whim, just because it was pink. Then I learned that it is a much-hated plant that grows to be ugly. They were right - it was a struggle to get through his awkward teenage flowering stage. Then I learned it would die over winter anyway. But then it did this! It got big! And even pinker! And it looks so damn healthy! And now I want it to stay! We're zone 9, I think, so there's a chance he will return next year. Pink!
In conclusion, this year it seems as though everything responds favorably to more heat and more water. Shade be damned. I did not spend any afternoons on the balcony this year. And I also learned that most of the fun of gardening was hunting for new plants. And that the calamondin is looking so fantastic, after it completely died back and I got the chance to properly shape it. Watching that tiny blossom grow everyday is such a thrill. I highly recommend it.
Here's that old window, the next painting surface challenger. My original plan is to block off bits of the glass and attack it with the absorbent ground and watercolour, just to see how far I can take it. After some research, I think there is very little chance of any permanence no matter how I approach it, but that's life.
Anyway, the frame was covered in chipping beige paint which wasn't looking good at all. I considered painting over it, but I also considered exposing the wood. Me, impatient person trying to remove paint? Well, it's not like I didn't procrastinate! A heat gun and a chisel saved me from endless sanding (I HATE SANDING), but the inside is bevelled so... I'm procrastinating again. The wood is a pretty red colour, the hardware is crazy rusted, the caulking is disintegrating yet hard as stone. All this prep better lead to fun later!
Here's a garden update no one asked for! This year is "surprise" themed, meaning I disposed of all of my old seeds in some dirt to see what stuck. I think I spied a lonely asparagus sprout this morning. A few were purchased today as well. I'm at least a month too late! Here are a few new contenders and an old one. Last year I was upset that my four leaf clovers had lost their colour and grown only three leaves. This year, they have their colour back and have grown FIVE LEAVES. Wat. Better late than never, I guess!
It's cooling down pretty quick over here. The sun sets at around 5pm and everyone wants to stay indoors where it's cozy. And so I've been going to work more often to cover for those who are staying indoors :) Not much fun is being had. My blueberry bushes feel the same way so they are turning golden and bare. I didn't even know they did that!
Luckily we have super mild weather that's ranging from 2C-10C, and yet there are strawberries still trying to ripen!
The calamondin is the most confused of the bunch: it's currently flowering and growing a bunch of new shoots. I'm not complaining, because the flowers smell absolutely amazing. This has been his happiest year, I think. An interesting thing to note about the calamondin is that this flower will probably take a year to turn into a ripe fruit. That's a long time.
Here are some that were flowers in the spring! They're so cute! Someday they will be slightly bigger and turn orange. And then I will have no idea what to do with them.
Well, it happened. Summer ended. A few weeks ago I know I was getting impatient with the heat and being all "when will this ever eeeennnnndddd?" As soon as my friend's wedding was over, the rain fell. And fell, and fell. Before the wedding it was a cool 20C. After the wedding, it dropped to 10C.
Here I am, still painting butterflies in some artistic form of denial.
Hello, Desk. We meet again.
There is supposed to be some kind of windstorm happening (I am skeptical), and so the blueberries and the calamondin are huddled together inside where it's not gusty. The calamondin improved so much this year - I've never seen so many leaves on it! It's hard to believe that it was once the size of the shorter blueberry.
The birdseed made a couple of different grasses, a cushy uniform short grass and a speedy tall grass! The cats recognize that it isn't much of an "eating" grass so here Maggie is watching me trim it with scissors!
Milo is feeling the cool softness against his pink toes.
One errant sunflower seed grew into this. I have no idea what kind of sunflower it is, but it will probably turn into nothing, this late into the year and in such small a box!
Since the nasturtiums died, I bought a bag of finch birdseed at the dollar store, soaked it in water overnight and then tossed it all into the planter boxes. My cats are apartment cats so I thought maybe they'd like a grassy place to sit on the patio.
People grow grass from birdseed by accident, I wondered how difficult would it be to grow it on purpose?
This is a photo of Milo on the box less than a week later!
Wandering through this doodle painting and wondering when the fire in my spine will go out. Also, I emptied a bag of sand outside and it was TOO MUCH SAND and it is very obvious that someone left a pile of sand right next to a "no dumping" sign and tried to bury it in leaves in the dark at 1am and I'm worrying about what to do with the second bag of sand I've got hiding in the trunk of my car, and it's annoying that I find things like this to worry about when I'm pretty sure no one cares about freaking SAND.
The black aphids have taken over the first wave of nasturtiums and it's gross. I just learned that they are meant to be sacrificial plants that divert all of the awful stuff away from the "real" plants. Well I guess it's good to know the fruit trees will be happy in their schaudenfreude.
Nastis: you are real, you are loved.
My workplace has closed down for a couple of weeks and so I have been given the lovely gift of time. Time is something I tend to waste if given lots of it. And yesterday we finally got the Netflix which will only allow me to waste more of it! This morning I watched Ghost Cat.
I wonder how many embarrassing movies I will be able to stuff into today?
Today is the last chance for a little while for me to do anything creative before sending off into the mountains alone, to visit with family. Yesterday I practiced a little highway driving and nearly had a heart attack because the highway has changed significantly. But I survived the short trip and so did the car. When I came back, I found such delight in this year's balcony garden. This is the greenest it's ever been for such a black thumb like me. I only hope it isn't dust by the time I return home on monday - eep!
It's my goal to leave for a long weekend but not disrupt my blogging schedule too much! So today, if I get away from the Netflix, will be full of cleaning, videotaping and painting. Who am I kidding?
Look who has come back from the dead! Mini Rose #3 has tiny little mini leaves! The one rose bloom is the only flower out there so far... but the young green is so revitalizing. I see small buds forming on the nasturtiums and I hope they survive my absense!
Perhaps I am taking these photos before I leave in case something happens and they don't make it. Proof that once, my balcony was green and wonderful. Maggie has been spending very long days and evenings out there just watching the leaves sway back and forth. We plants are happy plants.
I'm not very good at gardening at all, so I feel super self-conscious when out on the balcony, fussing away. I often wonder if the many people who can see me are shaking their heads and wondering what new plant I'm going to kill this year? Are you also a black thumb? There are a few plants which seem impossible to kill.
Tomatoes are good! That is, they generally survive the summer. Sometimes I will get some tiny, undersized tomatoes and they taste so incredibly sweet that going back to flavourless grocery store tomatoes is awfully depressing. I try to keep an eye out for "patio" tomatoes, because that can only help me, right?
Strawberries are also a winner. For me, they are the easiest thing to grow. I haven't lost a single one! And sometimes they multiply! If my balcony is covered with nothing but strawberries I think I would be okay with that.
This is last year's clover. I thought it died. That would have been embarrassing. Yes, I can even kill weeds. This guy is actually starting to perk up after lots of water. I actually cut him in half since I considered him a lost cause but he's looking way better now.
Here's another perennial that I can't keep alive. What. Most 4" mini roses are actually four roses in one container. Two of them came back last year, and this year, they both turned into sticks. I don't know why I'm so terrible with them. One of this year's roses is already dying, but it hardly had any roots to begin with so no mystery there!
Well it's more like "baby" chard, because I put them in such small containers. I've already eaten some and it was yummy.
For a super duper risk-taking adventure, I have a blueberry! Aaah! I already have him in the wrong shape of container (way to go, me). From what I hear, they need other blueberry plants to make fruit, so if this one survives next year, I can find him a buddy. I have to pinch all of his flowers off, anyway. Fingers crossed.
Other friends: hopefully some nasturtiums (another weed I can't keep alive) and cat grass for the kittehs. And somehow the calamondin is still alive after three years! Not well, mind you, but alive!
Future updates will likely be grim. Though I have a good feeling about this one.
In actual art news, the two little wood paintings are listed in the shop!
Hello! I'm Melissa, and here you'll find some behind-the-scenes footage of an artful life. Won't you join me?