Friday, February 25, 2011

Itty Bitty Balcony

While here in Washington we're getting a fresh dump of snow and freezing temperatures, I've started dreaming up my plans for the balcony back in Montreal. Since last spring I've been envisioning a lush, mini-oasis in the middle of the city, something hard to achieve on a 4x8 balcony that faces a busy street! I did make a bit of progress last summer, including a wrought iron bistro set that I simply adore, a pair of solar carriage lanterns, and a doormat that complements the style of the balcony railing as well as the bistro set. With the addition of a few plants, it was almost starting to look like something I had in my head. Almost.

The Balcony
The balcony at its best (before all the plants died!), last summer.

This year I'm hoping to have a bit more of a head start on the balcony, and the first order of business is installing an inexpensive wooden trellis on the far end for a little added privacy, and training some sort of climbing vine to fill it up. The problem I'm running into, however, is finding a fast growing, annual climbing vine that is non-toxic to cats. A lot of the popular contenders like clematis and morning glory are toxic, and I don't want to risk my cat's health! She loves the outdoors and I'd hate to deprive her of the balcony due to dangerous plants. I also want an annual and not a perennial because I don't want to bother with bringing it indoors and taking care of it all winter, unless there is something that can survive the deep freezes of Montreal winters in a pot (not likely).

The next thing on the list is a few long planter boxes to hang off the top of the railings. In addition to some colorful flowers, I'd like to plant something thick and lush that will spill over the edges and drape downwards that further suggests a sense of privacy behind a screen of foliage (a fabulous example).

And then of course there are accessories, like interesting pots and planters that are a step up from your basic terra cotta pots. I've already started with a few steel pots from Ikea, but I also like the idea of using urns and other interesting containers.

One advantage to not being on the very top floor of our building is we have a roof over our balcony, which will more easily facilitate enclosing it for a feeling of privacy. I'd love to hang a fabulous pendant in the middle like this one from Ballard Designs, but that's not really feasible considering there is no outside wiring and it's a rental. But it would still be awesome! The other option is string lights and an extension cord... classy!

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