Friday, 24 March 2017

Gothic Green Thumb: Spring Garden Planning

Hooray for Spring!

Spring is upon us! And as I patiently wait for flowers to break soil I'm reminded that winter can have it's last say any day now. The weather has been a roller coaster, guiding us through warm bursts of sunny spring days and then punishing us with blasts of frigid arctic air. This has been one of our mildest winters to date and I don't think anybody complained (except maybe skiing enthusiasts). It's been torturous waiting for the weather to stabilize. We're finally entering double digits, today could reach a high of 20°C! I'm definitely going to get out and enjoy it, even if I am sick. XP Our low temps are just above freezing but I'm hesitant to bring out the rose bushes just yet.

I'm in the early stages of my garden planning. Last year, I would've already had my seedlings germinating (and if you're an avid gardener you probably started germinating in February), but this year I decided against it. You might recall that I had a very difficult time raising dahlias, they all succumbed to some kind of disease. I decided that they no longer fit our garden requirements and that I wouldn't bother with planting them this year. Last year I chose to plant perennials. This kind of flower lives for maybe two years at best, if its roots can survive the winter frost, and since most flower boxes get waterlogged - including ours - I don't expect to see last year's petunias or snapdragons re-emerging in my container garden. I knew they wouldn't last which played a role in my decision to purchase them. When we moved into our condo it was winter, so we had no idea whether or not our deck would get full or partial sunlight, or none at all! It's important to know these kind of things because each plant has specific needs. Some plants are more successful in shaded gardens while others require full sunlight to thrive. I'm still not 100% of exactly how many hours of sunlight our deck receives but it's enough to sustain partial sunlight plants.

Since I used mostly perennials my deck is practically void of any vegetative life! The only thing straggling behind are the icicle pansies which can live through winter, and my chocolate mint - no, not chocolate as in yummy, chocolate as in brown! There's also the Fuji shrub and the climbing roses that I housed indoors. I'm very excited to see the Fuji in bloom and it's already sprouted leaf buds. The roses can't be brought out until we're sure that the frost has buggered off, but more importantly we've decided that this year we'll build them their own personal planter box, complete with trellis and hanging candle holders. 
That is if we end up actually building the box! Unfortunately it's too early in the season to see what shops have to offer. It'll be a few more weeks before all the garden stores have their inventory out. I'm finding most of the containers/boxes available are too small and far too expensive for our needs. Raised gardens are insanely popular and they've been clogging up many a Pinterest feed for some time. There are a handful of DIY videos that explain how to build one from scratch, and it's looking like this might be the path to take. Most pre-made raised boxes have been too small and too deep for our needs. I'm working with an itsy bitsy deck and as you can see from my garden plan above it's cramped. The blue planter is the rose planter we're thinking of building. It'll be about 4 ½ feet in length. Depth is being debated but I'm thinking a little over 2 feet. We're contemplating building the trellis. Can you believe that the kind of trellis we like could cost us up to $300 pre-made?! I figure it's gotta be cheaper to do it ourselves. I don't want to buy the cheap traditional trellis most stores carry because it tends to come apart over time and it would block out the afternoon light that the roses rely on. I want the box to look more like this (on the right) only not as long and probably not as deep.

Pre-made this kind of planter box could cost anywhere from $700-$1200. That's a lot. Ours probably won't look as polished with the finials and all that shit, we want it to be basic and a lot cheaper. I'm going to paint it a beautiful turquoise colour to accent the roses, which are Climbing Joseph's Coat and Westerland roses. It'll be a tight fit so I probably won't add anything else to the box. I'd really love to be able to screw wrought iron hangers into the trellis frame and hang light weight candle holders from them. I'm torn between doing a shabby chic style with mason jars and sand, or maybe purchasing some Moroccan inspired candle holders with coloured glass. I found that I keep gravitating towards bright and fun colours which was not my original plan. I truly thought my garden would be more pastel, shabby chic Goth, with white, pink and black flowers. This year I think I'm just going to go with this instinctive need for colour and go balls to the wall tropical! We've got some funky orange outdoor fabric that I stashed and I'd like to incorporate that this year in the patio furniture linens. 

My ultimate goal this year is to maximize space and minimize containers! I had so many damn containers last year I didn't know what to think. We couldn't hang anything up and unfortunately all the over-the-rail style planters didn't fit our railings. So everything just piled up on the deck - ugh! It look sloppy, for sure. In the plan you can see in the bottom right corner there's a large container with flowers. This could change to a slimmer, two tiered planter, to reduce even more space. I like symmetry, so I might purchase a duplicate to the Fuji's container and do it as the plan suggests, it's just a very big container, but if I'm putting all my flowers into it kinda has to be! I'm planning on mixing in my mint and maybe some of my herbs into this planter, but I want to be careful not to put anything acrid smelling in there; that means that the garlic and green onions should be planted elsewhere. I should note that if you ever wish to use mint as a filler it has to be planted inside its own separate container, like the one it came in, otherwise it'll spread like wildfire! It also needs to be pruned often, but it smells AWESOME! 

This year I need to establish some rules for adding flowers to the garden. I'm thinking about bringing back pansies. I want to plant them around the outer rim of the container, and I do want to use snapdragons again because they're easy to grow, however, I need to put them behind the pansies. This is something I neglected to do last year and it was a huge mistake! Snapdragons and petunias should behave as "backdrops" for smaller flowers like pansies, otherwise they choke them out. I'm going to buy black pansies again and hopefully orange and hot pink snapdragons for the center of the container, then fill the remaining space with herbs and hopefully something that flowers every season. The colours need to match this year, as last year it was a bizarre hodge podge of madness! I want black, orange and hot pink. I think it will really pop with the orange and blue patio decor.

Last year's container garden madness!
It's difficult planning a garden on a small condo deck. There are so many rules, such limited space, but I don't want that to ruin the gardening experience for me. It's my hope that soon I'll have a lovely outdoor space to enjoy minus the backyard!

Do you have any gardening plans for this year?



  1. Eh, we are just about entering the + digits :D

    1. It's so awesome! I went out yesterday in a dress and it felt like May. :)

    2. I am happy for you :) Maybe a long summer ahead then?

  2. Sounds like you have wonderful plans!! I'm not sure what I am doing yet, but I would like to get more flowers in the flower beds, to bring in the bees. I have already started trimming some trees. The weather has been nice, but now we have been getting tones of rain!

    1. Same! We've had plenty of rain and not much sunlight, flowers need sun to grow! The forecast promises some sunny warmer days ahead hopefully it's the same for you! I'm looking forward to digging in the dirt. :)

  3. Gosh, this post makes me miss gardens so bad! All my adult life homes have been apartments in a block of flats. >_> On the other hand, I have more like a black thumb instead of a green one, so maybe it's a good thing that plants are not given into my care. :D :D

    1. lol I used to be awful with gardening, admittedly I still kind of am, but I want to get better at it. I've seen some really cool ideas for condo and apartment gardens but it depends on where you live and what the rules are. I'd love a personal oasis on my deck, complete with water feature and bird feeders, but we're not allowed to do any of that stuff. >.<


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