Misadventures with a wildflower window box

Blog, Writes

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I had high hopes for our balcony when I started gardening in September last year. I saw our modest concrete enclosure through rose, tulip and poppy-tinted spectacles.

It would become an urban jungle, I thought, filled with hanging baskets brimming with trailing ivy and big, beaming flowers, birds and bees making the glorious space their home. It would be a balcony garden to rival Mr Hoppy’s, the green-fingered star of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. 

Mr Hoppy balcony

The dream.

We were in the garden shop on the hunt for plants when I spotted the sale rack. The sale rack always tugs on my heartstrings. I look at the sad, wilting flowers, disfigured petals and droopy leaves and I just want to scoop up the whole grotty lot and take them home with me.

I looked at Gavin. He did a reluctant nod. He knew resistance was futile. I bundled carton after carton of sorry looking pansies into the basket and with glee skipped off to the checkout.

On my way to pay, another garden centre misfit caught my eye.

It was a hefty bag of wildflower seeds, reduced to 50p. Without a second of hesitation, I threw the seeds in the basket and off we went.

That afternoon, I spent a good few hours carefully potting all my new planty friends in their containers and window boxes.

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The final touch, the pièce de résistance if you will, was the bag of wildflower seeds.

With what can only be described as “reckless abandon” me and Gavin sprinkled the whole bag all over the balcony – no pot escaped the seed sprinkle.

“WE’LL HAVE A BALCONY MEADOW!” I declared with joy, arms flung wide Hills are Alive style.



Let’s fast forward to June shall we? We’ve just returned from a two week holiday. After much umming and ahhing beforehand about what to do with our plants, we bunged some in the bath, and the rest we left outside at the mercy of mother nature, hoping that while we were away it would rain enough to keep them all alive.

The balcony now looks atrocious. It’s like the scene from the Lion King when Scar takes over the Pride Lands. Everything is parched and impoverished. The window boxes are barely visible beneath swathes of yellow grass and weeds. The once blossoming strawberry plant has shrivelled. I’ve never considered lawn-mowing a window box before, but at one point it looked like the most sensible option.

To say the wildflower window box was a mistake would be unfair and perhaps premature. I think it’s more a case of unrealistic expectations, combined with a long period of time without water.

In fact, despite everything, I spotted a fuzzy little bee hanging out among the stems the other day, which was the main purpose of the wildflowers in the first place. 

A little bee having a rest in what’s left of my strawberry plant.

Plus, after significant plucking and pruning, trimming and watering, I think they’re starting to look a lot healthier and might just be on the mend. I’ll keep you posted.

But in the meantime, a gardening tip from someone who knows nothing about gardening: Don’t plant a metric ton of wildflower seeds in containers and then abruptly stop watering them. They. Will. Die.

 

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Urban Jungle Bloggers: Planty Appetit!

Blog, Eats

 Incredibly late to the table with this post (pun not intended, honest!)

This month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers topic is all about plants used as a table setting. So I invited some of my favourite house plants to join us for dinner.

Readers, let me introduce you to Viola the African Violet, Keith a big out of control Kalanchoe that some friends gave me a few years ago and Penelope the Peperomia.



The gang joined us for some home made sushi, served with little shots of Suntory whisky that Gavin picked up in Tokyo last week.

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My new personalised chopsticks were also a gift from Tokyo. I think Gavin intended for my name to be written in Japanese but the request was lost in translation. I love them all the same.

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I absolutely adore my house plants. They are like little green photosynthesizing pets, that rely on you to stay alive, and in return clean the air for you, filling it with that handy oxygen stuff we so rely on. I think I’ll definitely start inviting them for dinner more often, they were really no trouble…

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series run by two bloggers, Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). To view more from the glass and plants theme, visit the Urban Jungle Bloggers website

Crocus in glass vase, Urban Jungle Bloggers

Urban Jungle Bloggers: Plants & Glass

Blog, Sights

This will be my first ever post for Urban Jungle Bloggers. Aloha!

The theme this month is ‘glass and plants’ so I thought I’d share a few photos of a little crocus bulb I planted in a glass vase back in December.

Crocus bulb in glass, Urban Jungle Bloggers

I love the long noodle-esque roots that swirl around in the water.

Curly roots, crocus in glass, Urban Jungle Bloggers

The little tiny bulb has enough nutrients to put down these long straggly jellyfish roots, and to sprout a delicate flower without needing soil which I find amazing.

Crocus in glass vase, Urban Jungle Bloggers

It’s not all good news though. This fella started well, sprouting a little shoot and a tiny root. But then nothing! The promising sprout stopped growing abruptly and started to go all brown. Lots of care and attention failed to resurrect his progress. I think perhaps there was too much water in the vase and the bulb rotted. Sorry flower!

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And finally, as this month’s theme is glass and plants I thought I’d share some photos of one of the amazing glasshouses in Kew Gardens. I live nearby so when I saw this month’s theme I popped over to take some photos.

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The Princess of Wales conservatory was opened in 1987 and is home to cacti, ferns, orchids, waterlilies and even water dragons! When you’re inside it’s like being in a giant terrarium. Wandering around, I feel like a little Minimian character.

 

This strange looking jade vine hangs down and has these strange almost-glow in the dark coloured flowers. In the wild, they are polluted by bats, but the ones in Kew are hand-pollinated by Kew Gardens staff who go round armed with little paintbrushes.

The plant only flowers every 2 – 3 years so it was great to see it! The destruction of rainforests in the Phillipines, the jade vine’s natural habitat means the vines are under threat.

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Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series run by two bloggers, Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). To view more from the glass and plants theme, visit the Urban Jungle Bloggers website