urban gardening

Trough for a balcony

flower trough

I took advantage of the sunny weather yesterday, during a welcome break from the rain, to plant up some pots. This is my budget trough for the balcony. I'm not sure how much weight the balcony can take so I used a plastic trough to be lighter.  I got this one from freecycle. I planted thyme and rosemary I bought on special at the supermarket. The small seedlings are cerinthe I grew from seed I collected last summer and larger seedlings on the right are agastache (I think) that I planted last summer. I put some shells I had at the back. They said on GW last year not to grow edibles near a busy road but I decided the amount of toxins in the small amount of herbs that would be eaten is not worth worrying about.


I had a second thyme and thought I'd see how it does in this pot. It would be nice to have it growing in the garden all the time. I found I had a lot of unused shells so I put them around the plant.

Shrubs near the pavement

My front garden being right on a busy pavement in London I found that passing pedestrians pulled off (and even cut) every single flower (and thick wooden stems) from the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) I had planted to shield the unplesant view of my rubbish and recycling bins. I decided it had to be moved or else it wouldn't survive and I'd never have any flowers from it to enjoy.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

I planted a couple of buddlejas in its place. They had self-seeded in the back garden so were free and being quite a common plant (often considered a weed) I don't think passersby will be desperate to take pieces of it and even if they do it grows quickly or I hope it does as it's looking a bit pathetic so far.


orange tulips and pots for a balcony

I love parrot tulips. The flowers are amazing. I think these are Professor Rontgen but I also planted Orange Favourite so I'm not absolutely certain. I must try to label plants (and seeds better). Every year I have seedlings that I don't know what they are.

tulip Professor Rontgen

tulip Professor Rontgen

tulip Professor Rontgen

I decided not to buy many seeds (or plants) this year both to save money and because after having too many seeds in previous years I wanted a break from feeling pressured to plant them, and inevitably ending up with too many seedlings, so for the pots for my balcony I decided to plant them up with sunflowers I grew from last year's collected seed. I have no idea how these will work in pots on a balcony - certainly not a traditional choice - but I will give them a try. I also couldn't find the coleus seeds I wanted to plant in them and couldn't decide on an alternative - and the sunflower seeds were just there. I'm also using plastic pots which are lighter than clay as I don't want too much weight on the balcony. I put some styrofoam pieces in the bottom before filling with compost to reduce the weight further. Photos with them in situ to follow.

balcony pots with sunflowers

I also have a trough to plant up. I'm going to use some miscellaneous plants I have kicking around. Again, an untraditional choice but completely free. Photos to follow.

I'd never collected much seed before until the end of last summer when I collected seed from the sunflowers, snapdragons, hollyhocks, cerinthe and alliums. I was pleased to have seedlings from the first 4, including cerinthe below and sunflowers above. The snapdragons are tiny yet (photo to follow). The alliums I don't think will bloom in 1 year so no hurry with those.

cerinthe seedlings

Tulip Little Princess and crushed shell mulch for slug protection

I bought a pack of 10 of these Little Princess Tulips and I think I got 2 flowers? One looked nice, if washed out, forced in the truffle bottle (see garden withindoors) and this one somehow survived the squirrels who ate all the other crocus and tulips I planted in the back garden. I think this is a lovely little tulip, similar to acuminta in colouring but much less expensive.

tulip little princess


My tulips are incredibly early this year with the warm weather. These look like the Professor Rontgen and Silver Parrot tulips I planted in previous years although last year I also planted Orange Favourite and Estella Rynveld which I guess the pot below must be one of them. 

The pot of tulips below is in the back garden (which doesn't get nearly as much sun as the front garden).  They are far behind the ones in the front garden that are in bloom. 

I want to avoid slug pellets this year as I now have a frog in the garden. I loved the look of the crushed shell mulch since I first saw it so I'm going to try it to protect my lupins. I planted so many late last summer and they germinated well but the slugs decimated them. I have 4 left so I hope I can nurture them with some tlc and extra vigilance with the slugs. I've also had a bit of a clear out in this flowerbed removing all the bluebells. I remove some every year but obviously not enough as they were still taking over. I do the same with the ground elder and I don't have much of that but still a few shoots every year.

lupins with crushed shell mulch

This is typical of what happens in my garden. I potted up a piece of bergenia rhizome and a poppy and foxglove have self-seeded themselves along with it.

violets in this warm weather

It's hard to capture the abundance of violets in this bunch with this image but I have never seen a clump with so many flowers. I often have some violets spring up about the garden but never with so many flowers. I assume it's the warm weather that has brought them out.


I have so many vinca flowers this spring, also down to the warm weather? It's such of nice contrast of a sea of green interspersed with purple flowers.


Finding plants at the garden centre so expensive and often lacking the health to survive into their second year I took this one out of the skip. After being planted it in the garden, it soon revived. This was definitely my best "buy".


early early tulips

I have never seen these tulips in bloom so early. This weather is crazy. The ceanothous is also about to burst into bloom.

orange tulips

Viola Floral Powers and Lupins

viola floral powerslupin seedlingsI had blooms from these Viola Floral Powers (left) very early last year and this year they're blooming already. I continue to be impressed by them.

I planted some lupins late last summer from seed I collected from some in my garden (grown from purchased seed) and was pleased with a good germination rate. Unfortunately the slugs decimated the seedlings. This spring I was so happy to see them coming back from that - until the squirrels got to them! No matter how many nuts I put out they still damage my plants. The middle one on the left looks dead but the other four look like they might just survive if I can keep the slugs off them after I plant them in the ground.

the garden coming to life

I was so excited to finally have a frog in my pond. I don't know if he found his way there or if he hatched from the last spawn I put there (about 2 years ago?) and I just never saw him before. He was out the other day when it was sunny and he came out to bask in the sun for a while. The last two days have been cloudy and he hasn't been out.

frog in my garden pond

I love squirrels. They are SO cute but wreaking havoc in the garden. I planted bulbs last autumn to have a bulb ladder this spring but the squirrels ate all the crocus and tulips so only the muscari and narcissus tete-a-tete are left.



These muscari are beautiful: fat ripe flowers and intense colour. The muscari I forced indoors which bloomed in December weren't nearly so vibrant. They were so unnoticeable I didn't even take a photo of them.








The sky was so blue that day. The combination of the purple flowers, the green of that shrub in the background and the blue sky was beautiful.






narcissus tete-a-tetemuscari on a plant stand

I had the idea to put these pots on an old wooden ladder but the squirrels, aside from eating half the bulbs, would have knocked them off. The narcissus pot on top is too big for them to knock off although they've already knocked off the middle one.

The plant stand on the right is more secure so they can't knock anything over. The pots in the middle are my lupins which the slugs half destroyed last autumn but now that they are off the ground away from them, they are growing again. I'm hoping the frog(s) will eat the slugs now. This past winter wasn't cold enough for long enough to kill the slugs. The previous winter was great as I didn't have slugs for weeks in the spring. It really gave the plants a chance to get going.

I've also seen a fox a few times recently after not seeing one for a while and lots of cats. Two new ones have moved in recently, added to the existing ones, sometimes there are 5 cats in the garden - it's great as I love cats. And Pussycat is enjoying the warmer weather.

first blooms in the garden

yellow crocus

yellow crocusyellow crocus











striped crocus

striped  crocus

hyacinth, not quite as focused as I'd like, I'll try again tomorrow


ever reliable bergenia
















2012 Seeds

I decided not to buy any seeds this year as I tend to go a bit mad buying too many and I still have enough left from last year to keep me busy. I also find I get better results when I grow less and look after them better. When I have too many I easily fall behind looking after them.

In reviewing what I currently have, these are my seeds:

Allium - collected from plants I grew last year

Cerinthe - collected from plants I grew last year



Chives sow March to May


Devil's Bit Scabious

Foxglove sow April to July

Greater Knapweed

Hollyhock - collected from plants I grew last year

Lesser Knapweed

Pansy Colossus Neon Violet - Unwins Gro-Sure sow February to August

Snapdragon - collected from plants I grew last year

Sunflowers - collected from plants I grew last year

Tomato - Thompson and Morgan Berry F1 Hybrid sow February to April

Viola Floral Powers sow February to March

Viper's Bugloss

another beautiful unexpected appearance in the garden

black cat

He appeared this morning. I've never seen him before.


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