Not long ago Ron's balcony, which faces south on the 24th floor of a building in the Flat Iron district, was just a 5 x 8 foot block of cement. The view is breathtaking from this height with water towers galore and the Woolworth building in the distance. But aside from the occasional rooftop garden, there is an overwhelming amount of concrete on the horizon. As soon as the threat of frost had past, I brought over my planters and raided the greenmarket to fill them. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this space! For the past six years I've made the most of my fire escape in Brooklyn, but this almost feels like I've gained an extra room and a backyard.
I started with the window boxes, filling them with fuchsia geraniums and sweet potato vines, a tried and true combination. By mid-summer the vines should drop down and cover most of the steely window boxes. In one corner I arranged pots of herbs: sage, lemon thyme, basil, chamomile, lavender, nasturtium, peppermint and rosemary. On the other side I planted an heirloom cherry tomato plant surrounded by more herbs: oregano, purple basil and orange mint. It's exciting to have so many herbs on hand and to limit our runs to the grocery store (where they only sell herbs in big bundles that eventually wilt from neglect in the fridge).
My original idea was to have a garden consisting completely of succulents. Not only do succulents come in a variety of colors and textures, but they are incredibly forgiving and thrive off neglect... and another perk, they're perennials so they'll come back on their own next year!
When we're on the balcony looking out towards the left, we have a feeling of being alone, floating above the surrounding buildings with a fantastic bird's eye view... however, just to the right of the balcony is a panel of windows-- or eyes, if you will. To somewhat obscure the view from both sides, I planted morning glories along the base of the balcony. I chose the variety Sunrise Serenade which is known for dense coverage and magenta double flowers. At the rate that they are growing, we should have a little more privacy (or at least the sense of it) in a few weeks.
With the addition of the cafe table & chairs and new cushions for Ron's trusty wooden chair, all of a sudden we have more than a balcony, we have a garden oasis.