A year ago, I moved from my home in Lahore and settled in Toronto. Aside from the cultural changes that I had to embrace, one major challenge as a gardener was to start my gardening hobby afresh in a very different climate. It is a big change – from a 600 sq. feet rooftop garden to a small 36 sq. feet balcony garden space.
Not only I have a limited room for growing plants but also I cannot grow some of my favorite plants here. Toronto has continental climate – warm and humid in summer, and very cold in winter. I did not add much to my small balcony garden yet, but I have started planning it. Here are a few ideas for my balcony garden.
I am a big fan of succulent plants – they are versatile, offer a great variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and are easy to group with their cousins. Traditionally, succulents have been grown in pots as display or accent plants. In recent years, they have become popular landscape plants. Modern landscape designers are now appreciating succulent plants for their architectural forms and using them in traditional as well as experimental landscape designs.
Most succulent plants grow solitary or form small groups. They rarely outgrow their environment and thus make good plants for grouping with their cousins. You can find succulent plants in all sizes – we ranging from mat-forming ground covers to low-growing foliage plants and from large globe-forming succulents to tall and cylindrical plants. Most succulent plants have similar requirements which makes it easier to group succulents plant from different genera in a landscape design. They require well-drained soil, less frequent watering, and occasional cutting or division.
Some common succulent plants that do very well in landscapes include several varieties of cacti and a large selection of plants from the genus of Aeonium, Agave, Aloe, Crassula, Echeveria, Euphorbia, Sedum, and Sempervivum.
The following gallery provides 15 good examples of landscape designs that use succulent plants.
Today’s post features some beautiful examples of urban landscape designs by a landscape designer Alex Hanazaki. The landscape designs of Alex are a beautiful mix of complementing textures, colors, and forms – all blended perfectly with modern urban settings. The use of ornamental grasses in his landscape designs is an example of how simple yet beautiful a landscape design can be developed in urban lands.
The following is a selection of lovely urban landscape designs developed by Alex Hanazaki. (All image are taken from Alex Hanazaki website http://www.alexhanazaki.com.br/)
You’ve managed to take down that unused above-ground pool, and you now want to use that reclaimed space for a frugal garden spot. Before you throw all the scraps and pieces into the dumpster, hold back on discarding the pool liner. The pool liner and matching pool cover are made of yards of vinyl fabric, which are perfect for frugal gardening upcycling techniques. Depending on the size of your yard, waterproof landscape fabric can cost up to $100 or more (as discovered while browsing Lowes.com), and this is just one of the uses for this free resource.
Image by Beachbums3 (Flickr)
Savvy gardeners lay a weed barrier, also called landscape fabric, on top of the soil after planting seeds and seedlings in the spring. This waterproof barrier helps to hold moisture in the soil while shading out any weed seeds that may sprout. Lay the pool liner flat and cut out 6-inch holes where the seedlings will grow. Water can reach the soil through these holes when you water the plants. Put in your bushes and other landscaping plants, and then cover the liner with an attractive layer of wood chips, as Doug Green’s Garden suggests.
Image by Biofilter tech (Wikimwedia Commons)
A cool, natural-looking pond is a big asset to any landscaping decor, adding curb appeal as well as a relaxing view. Homemade ponds are very simple to create, and pool liners make ideal pond liners. As ThisOldHouse.com suggests, dig the pond hole, measure and cut the liner to fit, lay the liner in the bottom and fill it with water. Add rocks around the edge to cover the plastic and place a fountain and some aquatic plants at one end of the pond for a cool addition.
Protect From Frost
Image by Peupleloup (Flickr)
If you live in a southern state and a frost threatens, or if your frost is coming early in the north, you probably have vegetable plants with food that’s still not ripe. You can save the harvest by creating a barrier between the plants and the outside air. A thinner layer of plastic will do for this job, so save the pool cover for this time of year. If you don’t have one to recycle, you can find pool covers online for much cheaper than a similar amount of rolled plastic. Wrap the liner around the tomato cages, or place a stake in the middle of some plants and create a small tent for shorter peppers and the like. The heat from the soil will be just enough to keep the plants from freezing overnight. As The Garden Helper recommends, remove the plastic in the morning when the frost melts, and replace it at night again when needed.
Image by Nate Steiner (Flickr)
Whether it’s leaves in the fall, fallen twigs in the spring, or piles of soil when double-digging, every gardener has a large job of carrying to do once in a while. Instead of spending money on a wheelbarrow, use a pool liner or cover to do the heavy lifting. Lay out a length of the plastic cloth and place the materials on top. Grab one end and pull the liner to where you need to go. The slick vinyl surface of the pool liner will slide easily over grass or gravel, making for a simple way to transport garden items.
If you are hunting for landscape and garden design ideas, stay on this page for a minute or two. This post collects some really simple and practical landscape designs for your inspiration. You will find a variety of landscape designs for small as well large gardens.
Delphinium is a genus of wonderful annuals and perennials known for their colorful and attractive flowers that grow abundantly on long stalks. Native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, Delphinium are easy to grow and manage. Most species grow tall with stalks full of flowers though some low-growing species are also available. Taller species are prefect for growing in the background of flower beds or landscape.
Delphinium is know traditionally for its showy flowers of strong blue or purple color, however a large number of hybridized Delphiniums have also been produced in recent years. The hybridized Delphinium produce flowers in all shades of white, blue, mauve, red and yellow.
Delphinium/ Image by hello-julie(flickr)
Popular in traditional gardens, Delphinium has been extensively hybridized to produce long-lasting cut flowers. Some popular hybrids of Delphinium include: ‘Atlantis’, ‘Blue Dawn’, ‘Elizabeth Cook’, ‘Oliver’, ‘Summerfield Miranda’, and ‘Sungleam’.
Delphinium requires fertile and slightly soil but well-drained soil under the bright sun. The plants can be propagated from seeds as well as divisions. The flower stalks should be provided firm support of staking when the stalks reach 10 inches or more. Delphiniums can be cut back to the ground after the end of flowering season in order to encourage better growth for the next flowering season.
If you are looking for an easy to grow, hardy and rich flowering plant for your garden landscape, consider Alcea rosea. Commonly described as Hollyhock, a number of tall and dwarf varieties are popular among gardeners – majorly because of the variety of colorful flowers that ranges from beautiful shades of pink, white, maroon, purple, yellow and black.
Alcea rosea (Hollyhock), Image by Charles Roffey
Hollyhocks make excellent ornamental houseplants because they do not require special care or climate. They can grow in ordinary soil mix under full or partial sun. These drought tolerant plants can be used to fill uncultivated spaces where they would grow up to 3 meters or more as biennial plants to produce showy flowers in the second year. Alcea rosea produces vigorous tap roots and should not be grown with plants that cannot compete for food and moisture. Hollyhock grows best when cultivated separately in background of landscape design or places where ordinary plants cannot be grown.
Alcea rosea originally comes from Mediterranean and tropical climates of Asia, thus it requires bright sunlight and moderate watering. Long stalks of flowers need to be protected from strong winds. Thus, Alcea rosea is grown against walls or in locations where they are not directly affected by strong winds or they should be provided with support of staking. Several dwarf species of Alcea rosea are also available that can be grown in windy conditions.
Pennisetum is a genus of annual and perennial ornamental grasses from tropical and temperate regions of the world. Some popular species from this genus include millet, grain and some fodder plants. These ornamental grasses are known for their foliage and flowers that really add ornamental value to gardens and landscapes.
Pennisetum are generally tough, drought-tolerant and easily grown plants. They usually grow in small clumps and produce soft, feathery inflorescence in late summer. Most species of Pennisetum are frost hardy in tropical climates; however they need protection from long winters of cold regions. These plants prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. In their native climate, these plants can withstand drought and require only moderate watering.
Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum', Image by Matt Lavin
Some of the popular species of Pennisetum include:
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Fountain Grass) – Grows up to 1 meter and produces rose-colored flowers on long spikes in summer.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass) – Relatively smaller species (50 to 75 cm) with small clumps of grassy leaves; grows in almost any soil. Prefers full sun and a little moist soil. Flowers appear in late summer.
Pennisetum orientale (Oriental Fountain Grass) – Ornamental grass with fresh green leaves that grow up to 75 cm. This species produces white, feathery flowers and prefers partial sun, moist soil and a regular soil mix with good drainage.
Liriope is a genus of low-growing foliage plants that are grown widely in temperate regions as ground covers and landscape plants. These grass-like evergreen plants are usually associated with the lily family. Ideal for pots, baskets, pathways, borders and as patio plants, most species of Liriope are quite easy to grow and maintain.
One of the commercially popular species is Liriope Muscari which grows in clumps of narrow leaves. This beautiful plant spreads quickly and easily and is suitable for garden landscapes as ground cover. It can also be grown as indoor pot plant when provided with adequate light and temperature.
Liriopes Muscari, Image by Martin Vicentea
Liriope plants prefer bright sunlight and regular watering in a well-drained soil mix. Liriope Miscari, which is commonly known as monkey grass, spider grass or lily turf, propagates easily from root mass. The plant produces green, sometimes variegated foliage, and violet flowers on dense spikes in summer. Flowers last long and can be used as cut flower.