We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves.
And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Summer in My Little Garden
We are having a beautiful summer. The days have been a mixed bag of everything—sunny mornings, afternoon rain showers, perfect humidity, warm temperatures, deliciously cool evenings (perfect for a good night’s sleep), terrific storm clouds rolling in from the west in the late afternoons, bringing grand displays of lightning and crashing thunder, and quintessential calm summer days with blue skies peppered with soft animal-shaped clouds and a cool gentle breeze. I love it all. And, so, it seems, does my little balcony garden in the sky–it is thriving!
This post is dedicated to my dear friend, artist and photographer, Skylark.
One of my great summer joys is watering my balcony plants first thing in the morning. A few weeks ago, I was doing just that (using my fancy brand-spanking-new copper watering can) when along came a little hoverfly. These little guys somehow found their way up to my sky garden the moment I brought out my first plants and they’ve been visiting regularly ever since.
Delighted to see one, I jokingly said to her, “Would you like a little drink of water, Miss Hoverfly?” And before I could even finish, she alighted on the spout of my watering can, took a tiny sip from a single droplet of water and quickly hovered off to check out the rest of my garden. Well, that just made my morning, because—surprise, surprise—I adore hoverflies!
The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry,
of painting and music, of religion and architecture,
all make the point as clear as possible:
The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.
~ Thomas Moore
The Joy of Small Space Gardening
Don’t let a small space, even one in the sky, deter you from gardening. Small spaces can yield a ton of beauty and enjoyment. The pleasure I extract from my small container garden on my balcony—watering it, dead-heading the blossoms and fussing over every single pot—is enormous. I love every plant in every container, big and small.
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly,
“one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Anderson
Bumping into a Good Friend
Several summers ago, as I stepped out onto my balcony garden, I literally bumped into my good friend, the Clouded Sulphur Butterfly. It was a beautiful, hot summer’s day and the vertical blinds of our sliding glass doors leading out to the balcony garden were closed to keep out the heat of the late summer sun. I was working in the kitchen when I heard some commotion on the street below. Curious as to the cause of the sound, I decided to step out onto the balcony to have a look-see. But, rather than open the vertical blinds so I could step out unimpeded, I lazily threaded one arm between two of the vertical panels, parted them, and gingerly placed one foot out onto the balcony. Half out, with one foot and one arm through to the other side and my other arm and leg still inside, laced between the vertical panels of the blinds, I bumped smack into a little Clouded Sulphur Butterfly.
One of the early incarnations of my balcony garden, complete with a little pond.
A Surprise in the Reflecting Pool
We are having a gloriously early spring this year and I am starting to prepare my highrise balcony for the yearly planting of my container garden. I’ve been small space gardening up here on my balcony for many years—it’s one of my favourite summertime joys. Who says you can’t grow a garden in the sky?
One warm sunny day.
One lavender blossom.
And someone to appreciate it all:
I recently read a little blurb in one of our city magazines pronouncing Calgary to be a “Bee-Friendly City”. It stated that our urban bee population is thriving due to Calgary’s rich biodiversity of plant life and due to a growing movement to reduce pesticide and herbicide use around our city. A program called Bees for Communities has brought 400 new hives into Calgary to give backyard hobbyist beekeepers an opportunity to hone their skills under the supervision of an experienced beekeeper, and the City of Calgary Parks Department has instituted a program to plant more bee-friendly trees in the city. All these efforts add up to more urban bees.
My Little Balcony Garden in the Sky
Every spring, I plant a little balcony garden. It’s a small garden, composed entirely of containers that I arrange and cluster closely together. Typically, I plant out about 30 pots each year. Except for two Amur maple trees, nothing potted survives our cold winters, so I replant all 30 pots anew each spring.