We know that many of our gardeners have green fingers longer than their balconies can accommodate. That’s why Life is a Garden has made November all about our city living gardeners out there. You can still make your patio pop, indulge your gardening cravings, and escape the city from your stoep, here’s how:
Before diving in, there are a few things to consider: What do you use your balcony for the most? Are you more of a lock-up-and-go or do you have some time to spend on maintaining your balcony greens? Does your space get full, partial, or no sun at all? How would you like your dream balcony to present you and your personal flavour? The answers to these questions can really help you conceptualise your space to make it practical for your lifestyle. Now that that’s sorted, let’s get your urban oasis going!
Any balcony easily comes to life with a little light! Your local GCA Garden Centre has a lovely variety of solar lights you can add to the space. Try draping some LED fairy lights from your railing with a few scattered lanterns in between your new pot plants, or perhaps hanging from a beam or two. Speaking of pots, container gardening is all the rage, especially edible ones! Using different sized pots in your balcony garden adds height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to play with different styles. You could upcycle a sweet teapot into a planter with your favourite tea time herb, or get the kids to decorate some cans and transform them into pot plants for a lovely homely feel.
Ditch the cold concrete and cover your stoep with some lovely faux grass. Available at your favourite GCA Garden Centre, there are a variety of soft and luscious faux grasses to choose from, and the fab thing is that you never have to cut or water it! Go full out with your mini city sanctuary look and opt for some tree stump seating, a pallet sofa, a self-standing hammock chair, or a trendy reed bench if that’s more your style. Depending on what you use your space for, you could even go for a picnic-style set up on your grass with large cushions or beanbags (with space for a hubbly or ice bucket in the middle). Alternatively, ditch seating altogether and use the space for an ambient water feature – now that’ll definitely help you get your zen on in the city. If you’d like to make your own balcony fountain, here’s another DIY on us: https://bit.ly/2G0EE4n
Picture a few hanging baskets framing your windows with an abundance of green life spilling over the edges – a view to appreciate from both inside and on the balcony. Add even more jungle vibes to your city escape with a gorgeous living wall to cover up that concrete and boring brick. Green walls are actually rather simple to make and so worth a little effort. You could also invest in some upcycled bamboo wall dividers (which we always see on the side of the road) and use these as wall cover-ups and creeper support. Vertical planters are also great for space-saving gardening, plus, they are super trendy and stylish for a more modern look. Dust off the cobwebs in the corner and let’s add a vertical planter with a quirky creeper for fun.
It’s important to know the sun moves across your balcony so that you can choose the right plants for your space. Here are some of our top plant picks to get you started:
Shady babies: Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) are hardy for the gardener on the go, Leather leaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis) brings in texture, and Forest bell bush (Mackaya bella) do well in containers.
Sunseekers: Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an old fave flowering vine, Climbing Snapdragons (Asarina) work well in vertical planters and living walls, and Petunias are great for cascading blooms. Geraniums are also a sure win for the balcony garden and let’s not forget roses for the most delightful potted rewards.
Transforming a balcony into your own unwinding city escape is well worth a little time and effort. In the long run, this space provides an important place of grace in between all the hustle and bustle of urban living. We tend to so often live for the weekend, so let’s bring the party to your patio and create an environment that’s so welcoming, every day is sunset on the stoep day! Caring for plants also helps your mental well-being, destresses you, and adds purpose to your daily routine. Life is a garden – how often do you tend to yours?
Why stop at gumboots and sun hats? This month we’re talking all about taking your passion for gardening to the bedroom, living room, office, and everywhere else! Life is a Garden is helping you bring the outdoors- indoors, with a few fabulous ideas, tips and trends, and a whole lot of greenspiration to help you create a gardening sanctuary where ever you go. We’ve also included some perfectly suited plant picks to get you going, which are all indigenous and waiting for you at your local GCA Garden Centre.
Bring the garden inside with you and create a living, green wall of wonder! Vertical gardening is super stylish and brings texture, sophistication, and a sense of thriving abundance into your space. Green walls can consist of multiple indoor plant varieties, which can be grown using panels and hydroponics on free-standing structures or against a wall. Alternatively, you can also use soil containers mounted against a wall, which will soon be covered by your beautiful creepers and climbers.
A living wall in your home is a striking, visual buffet of lushness! In addition, they are great air purifiers and assist in keeping your home cool during summer. Consider creating your green wall in an area with good light and ventilation, such as the living room or bathroom where plants can absorb moisture from the air. Watering your wall may be done using misters, a light spray bottle, or a watering can with a long spout.
Plant picks: String of Beads (Senecio rowleyanus) for hardy and handsome hanging, Large Forest Asparagus(Asparagus falcatus) for a textured climber, and Flowering Ivy (Senecio macroglossus) for a fabulous little creeper.
Getting away from the hustle and bustle is as easy as pot, plant, tree! Create your own indoor sanctuary by decorating with easily accessible, indigenous, and affordable natural elements. Group pot plants and hanging baskets together for a jungle-inspired corner, use succulents with bold features and textures as grand centrepieces, or drape shelves, racks, and even shower frames with a few curious climbers. Breathe life into a corner of a room by bringing your favourite tree inside with you, or showcasing a friendly variety of ferns.
Put your creativity and decorating skills to the test by mixing things up a little! Try combining these natural elements with a few man-made, familiar favourites: Shards of bark inside glass candle holders, interesting river stones assembled around basins with a few succulents for fun, shells and dried coral arrangements, twisting fairy lights around pine cones and dried flowers such as Proteas. You may find that attention to detail really helps to cultivate the indoor garden experience and drive the overall natural theme of the space.
Plant picks: Wild Banana tree (Strelitzia nicolai) for a tropical feel, Baboon Grape (Rhoicissus digitate) for a colourful creeper, and Dagger-Leaf (Sansevieria pearsonii) for a striking, textured feature plant.
Bringing the outdoors in has many wonderful health benefits for the body, mind, and certainly the soul! Indoor plants improve air quality by acting as natural air purifiers. Better air means better breathing for our lungs. An increase of good, clean oxygen improves concentration, mental clarity, enhanced energy levels, boosts in happiness, and even helps us sleep better. Incorporating more plants into your workspace increases productivity and helps brighten up those blue Monday’s.
Caring for leafy lives is an effective way of channelling anxiety and stress into a nurturing outlet. Caring for a bonsai, for example, teaches great patience and inner calmness. Create a soothing and harmonic space that nurtures your soul, connects you with Mother Nature, and reminds you to stop and smell the roses – as they say. The heart always feels better with love, so why not invest in a life of love giving and receiving by inviting nature’s nurses into every space possible!
Plant picks: Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for an excellent indoor air purifier, Bush Lily (Clivia miniata) for a flowering pot of happiness, and Veld fig (Ficus burtt-davyi) bonsai to help you get your Zen on.
With so many creative possibilities and health benefits of indoor gardening, it’s easy to appreciate the simplicity and practicality of bringing the outdoors to your inside spaces. Your local GCA Garden Centres have a variety of indoor plants to choose from that can help you to cultivate a space of green glory where ever you spend your time. Transform your sitting room into a real living room and create a place of grace, even in your office! For more gardening trends and inspiration visit us on Instagram.