the urban gardeness

a novice gardener's adventures in chicago gardening

What’s new in the garden this year? Everything!

Essie in the balcony garden

This summer, my outdoor urban garden was entirely new. In preparation to move to my husband’s condo, I started my container garden in a new location (upper-floor balcony) under new conditions (breezy, south-facing sun exposure), with a crop of new (to me at least) plants. Being a novice gardener, I had lots of reading and researching to do!

Here’s a progress report:

Hibiscus: impulse buy at the drugstore (of all places). Had a small scare after potting out (droopy, yellow leaves!) but now that I’ve learned to move it out of high winds, rain and beating sun, it’s thriving and blooming—making me extremely happy and prompting daydreams of Bora Bora and Hawaii while I work on the balcony (not good for work productivity, though). Grade: A

Herbs (basil & parsley): Ok, I have grown these before. Basil is growing nicely, providing plenty for cooking purposes. Can’t say the same about the parsley. We’ve had lots of hot, windy days so I suspect that may be the culprit (my mom says they like cool weather). It’s also been partially shaded by its rosebush neighbor, so it’s now moved to sunnier spot. Grade: B-

Canna lily: I adore tropical plants, so I fell in love with these immediately. I wish I bought more! I paired them with similar-colored celosias for nice color complement and height contrast in the pot. They just stopped blooming, so I chopped them down (scary!) and am waiting for the next round of stems to bloom. Grade: B+

Mandevilla: another impulse buy, thought it would be a nice complement to my hibiscus. I had no idea what to do about the vining, so I’ve added two sticks and will try to train it upwards! Grade: A

White iceberg rose: I planted roses at my condo building last year (a transplant from Mom’s garden), but I’ve never grown them in containers, so this was sure to be an experiment! After getting some advice from Mom on pruning, I thought I had the hang of it—until some of the leaves started yellowing. Did some research and I don’t think it’s blackspot fungus or mites, so perhaps I’m overwatering? (I have a tendency toward overzealous watering) Will try to restrain myself for a few days and see what happens. Grade: B-

Zinnia: I was drawn to these, as they promised to “cut and come again” and I love having fresh flowers in the house. They have not failed, producing blooms-a-plenty—however I’m seeing lower leaves turning brown. Still working on a diagnosis, but in the meantime, lots of new buds are forming. Grade: B

Veggies (tomato, hot pepper, sweet pepper, arugula): The tomatoes are old favorites, but I’ve never attempted peppers (again an impulse buy, are you seeing a pattern here?) So far, so good. They are growing fast, needing lots of water (due to hot, windy Chicago days and plastic pots, I suspect) and I see (what I think is) a teeny tiny pepper baby! Grade: B+

All in all, I’m happy with my garden’s progress! Keeping a log has been very useful, as it’s easier to see how the plants grow and change. I’ve been updating plant progress in my blog as well as my Folia account, and posting updated photos on my urban gardeness flickr page (that’s been the best way to asses how each plant changes).

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5 Comments»

  Has Summer Brought Forth Bounty or Taken Its Toll… wrote @

[…] What’s New in the Garden This Year? Everything! […]

  Liam O’Malley wrote @

Some very lovely pictures in there! This is my first year making a real go at gardening, and I’m also stuck with a deck (it’s at least a bit bigger than a balcony) and containers. Things have been going really well so far though.

  lidia wrote @

Thanks for the comment. Container gardening, as I’ve learned, can be quite fun (and easier than digging into the ground). Good luck to you!

  Kathy Vilim wrote @

Congrats on your new garden! You are brave to make a go of it in windy, urban conditions. But I can see you are really getting enjoyment out of your plants. Keep up the log!

  lidia wrote @

Thanks Kathy! Your blog is just lovely. I hope to relocate to Southern California someday and enjoy year-round gardening (and a shorter flight to Hawaii!) Here in Chicago we are limited in our outdoor gardening, but grateful for the few short weeks we get 🙂


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