I transformed my balcony into a small garden
Ever since I moved to Belgium, I started paying attention to flowers, plants and potting. At the beginning I suppose it was a way to feel closer to my family and especially of my mother who loves flowers. I started noticing the blossomed trees, the beautiful flowery round-abouts and the abundance of the flower decorating the windows. I discovered the Royal Gardens and later on Keukenhoff, the majestic flower exhibition in Netherlands that I have visited so many times.
When we finally moved to a flat that had balcony, I started to let my imagination go free. I had no experience in potting or caring for plants, apart some orchids that kept getting dry.
Little by little, year by year, I discovered the shops and the flower markets. My potting experience grew together with my flower expenditures. Here somes of my findings:
- I get my flowers from the Sunday market from Gare de Midi in Brussels, Oh Green shop Louvain-La-Neuve or the Pepinière from Watermal Boitforts. Here is a list of ‘pèpinieres’ in Belgium.
- Depending on your balcony space, buying all kind of pots, soil, draining pellets of argila and of course flowers.
- If pots do not have holes, make some. Water needs to drain out.
- How to pot: if you have some big pots, you can start by adding the argila draining pellets at the bottom (it is cheaper, fills out the big space and also help the drainage), then add the soil. You can use some old cloth or an old towel (with holes :)) to separate the soil from the argila. At Brico you can find a special plastic cloth (with holes) used for this purpose.
- Before removing the plant from the shop’s plastic pot, first dip it into water. It will go out a lot easier.
- After potting, always water the plants and preferably add some fertiliser.
- Mix and Match various flowers and colors for a better effect.
- If you want more green and volume, you can get some conifers. Note that on my balcony, the conifers rarely lasted more than a season (at least in Belgium). The wind dries them, regardless how much water they get.
- One of the most enduring flowers are geranium. They come in all colours, some of them have a rich flower and they stay upright, others are ‘hanging’ down.
- Geranium go nicely with petunia and beautiful contrasts can be created.
- Do use gardening gloves when necessary. And if you are like me and you enjoy feeling and touching the soil, you can use some latex gloves (single usage).
- During the winter, unless you can bring your plants inside, do cover your plants. But be prepared to lose some, anyway.
- In case you don’t want to invest in garden furniture, you can use an old second-hand Ikea table to put your plants on. You’ll be amazed how long these old tables will last. Of course, they will get damaged by water(it rains a lot in Belgium), but they do the trick.
- To create privacy and cover rails of the balcony, you can use some bamboo sheets, from Brico. They are quite cheap and you can tie them with some rope or some wire. The effect will be amazing.
- Prepare to spend quite some time potting and remember to water your plants every two other days.
- Also be ready to assign some time for flower maintenance. Some flowers need to be dead-headed and have the dried leaves removed. Geranium for instance will grow better if the old stems are cut.