The balcony

an oasis of green in the bustling heart of the city

 

For those of us who live in the city, a balcony, patio or courtyard can be a real godsend. So why not transform it into an oasis of calm? If you're fortunate enough to have a private courtyard or patio, then use it as you would a real garden.

For those of us who live in the city, a balcony, patio or courtyard can be a real godsend. So why not transform it into an oasis of calm? If you're fortunate enough to have a private courtyard or patio, then use it as you would a real garden.

 

First of all, you should consider this outdoor space as an extra room - a living room or maybe a dining room. Here, you can spend time relaxing alone or with friends or even use it as an outdoor office.

 

Use tall architectural plants to screen you from the gaze of neighbours and to act as a wind break. And if it gets too hot, you can install a pull-down awning, a blind or a parasol with a removable (space saving) shade.

 

In terms of furniture, choose items that are suitable for outside use and which are easy to clean, such as white aluminium or ultra-resistant teak. Folding garden furniture is practical and can be easily tidied away when not in use.

 

Make sure you choose plants that can cope with the conditions in your outside space (sunny, shady, etc.) and use a range of different sized containers and pots for your plants. Arrange them according to height and size, i.e. place the tallest and bushiest at the back and the smallest at the front.

 

Decorate your outside space just as would decorate a room by placing assorted plants, candle holders, lanterns, candles and birdcages on a small table for example. Add splashes of bright colours to liven up this green palette to achieve a pop art effect, or soften it using mineral hues (greys and browns) and natural materials for a totally zen feel. For a bohemian touch, add some second-hand or flea market finds. Whatever look you go for just avoid cluttering this space, which is, after all, meant to be somewhere to relax!

The 'Slow Green' balcony

 

Now let's focus on the plants - in pots, containers or trained to climb the walls - to breathe new life into your surroundings. Use all available surfaces to create your own private jungle: window boxes, trellises, flower pots, containers on the ground... Try to create an eclectic space, play around with arrangements of plants and flowers to bring out the wild side or introduce a a country feel. Make sure you choose plants that can cope with the conditions on your balcony and remember that certain varieties change dramatically as the seasons change. Grasses, olive trees, lemon trees, lavender and rosemary all love the sun. Ivy, box, ferns, bay, nasturtiums and pelargonium prefer a more shaded environment. And if you love cooking, then why not plant a herb garden (with thyme, mint, sage and rosemary amongst others), you could even try growing a few veggies or fruit! Use a plant ladder or attach your pots to the rail of your balcony to create a sense of movement and so you can keep a close eye on their progress!