Native Plants and Balconies

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Planning a garden on a balcony is often a challenging prospect, but using native plants can both help, and cause further frustration. Balconies are a very different environment from the places native plants usually grow. In addition to the usual challenges of balcony gardens such as using containers, reflected heat and sun exposure, the weather in cities where most balconies are located is also different. The humidity is often lower in the city, precipitation is higher due to a lack of tree canopy and there’s more runoff. Temperatures in the city are also higher due to the urban heat island effect and in addition, the sun often reflects off the buildings and projects more heat onto balconies. Air quality is another factor to consider as well as the wind, which is often a…

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Foragings:: The latest news, resources, designs and more

News

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House Hunting

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

My family recently started house hunting. We’ve been apartment dwellers for years, but the situation is right for us to purchase a home since, among other reasons, we’re planning on staying in Seattle for a few years. Plus we’re tired of our rent going up every year. Over the last few months I’ve discovered how much value I place on the outdoor space. We started out looking at condos, then expanded townhouses and now have expanded to houses, something I didn’t initially want. The thought of maintaining a house with all the electrical wiring, plumbing, siding and roofing makes me shudder. But houses also have significant outdoor space. I’d be happy with a condo that had a great balcony, however those are very hard to come by in Seattle, most buildings have no outdoor space or tiny, ‘Juliet’…

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The Thrill of Seeds

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

I confess, I’ve never been very good with plants. This despite having a fair grasp on their workings; having taken horticulture and plant classes while getting my Landscape Architecture degree. I figure this just means I have to work harder at keeping them alive.

Nearly three years ago now, we moved to an apartment in Seattle that included a balcony with great views of downtown Seattle and the Space Needle, and so my balcony gardening ambitions took off. It stared with a couple plants, lavender and a couple of other herb containers. Then as I wrote more about habitat, I attained more native plants. Some did well, some did not.

Two years ago I attended a native plant sale hosted by the Washington Native Plant Society. Because native plants…

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Friday Film:: How best to create a wildlife-friendly garden?

There are over 3 million gardens in Greater London which offer an ‘untapped potential’ to make the city more resilient to climate change and better for wildlife, according to the London Wildlife Trust. How do we begin to exploit this potential? According to LWT’s expert gardener Elaine Hughes, gardeners should be a ‘bit less tidy’.

This short video illustrates many of the key points for creating urban wildlife habitat including using drought tolerant plants and providing shelter for birds and insects by being less tidy and leaving seed heads and leaves in the winter months. The video also illustrates how many of the ideas presented can be achieved by nearly anybody; while some people have the resources to add a green roof, others with small space can make a difference by simply planting a window sill with wildlife friendly plants.

The…

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Summer Wildlife on the Balcony Habitat

This past summer produced a large number of wildlife species on my city balcony. I’ve briefly written about my balcony in the past, but this year I had more plants, the older ones were more established and I surveyed the wildlife with a new hand lens. You can read some of my past balcony posts including Native Plants and Balconies at the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog as well as my documentation of the entire lifecycle of a lady beetle, The Life of the Lady Beetle, the beetle swarms that occurred last fall, Lady Beetle Swarms and finally about my visiting hummingbird, Urban Hummingbird.

My balcony is in Seattle on the 6th floor on the top of a hill facing southwest. The building is a light color which seems to attract insects, as I mentioned in the Lady Beetle Swarms post. This year,…

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