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Posts Tagged ‘balcony’

Flowers and plants and shrubs — oh, my!

In beauty, behavior, cities, design, domestic life, life, Style, urban life on July 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I love this blog, {frolic}, and this post about a gorgeous plant nursery in Sweden.

I love nurseries and garden centers!

Buying flowers and plants makes me so happy. I enjoy getting up early in the morning to say hello to them all, watering and spraying them before another 80 to 95 degree day. (Did you know you shouldn’t spray plants when they’re already in direct sun? The water droplets act like magnifying glasses and can burn into the vegetation.)

We only have a small balcony — 12 feet wide by six feet deep — but it gets a lot of sun and wind, facing northwest and on the top floor of a six-story building with no shade beyond the building’s own shadow.

Here are some of this year’s plants (so far), clustered at the base of our Alberta spruce, which has already weathered several brutal winters exposed to frigid temperatures and high winds.

This year’s include heliotrope, lavender, marigold and back-eyed susans. One year we chose a flower that attracted tons of daddy-long-legs. Oooops!

The way we make the best use of our tight space is with talaveras, brightly colored hand-painted ceramic pots and wall planters Jose bought for us in Tucson. They add a cheery note and we store them away in the garage carefully every winter. They’re not cheap, but so much prettier than clay pots!

I’ve also spray-painted several clay pots bright lime green and deep navy blue, to match our balcony fabrics and decor.

In addition to the talaveras, we also hang three small doves of unpainted terra cotta,  — the photo at the top of this post — that double as (unused) candle holders. I bought them in May 2005 at the edge of the Salto San Anton, a small waterfall in the neighborhood I lived in when I was 14 in Cuernavaca. We went back expecting to find it totally different — but the empty field I used to gaze into instead of doing my homework was still, all those years later, still an empty field.

Here’s a photo of the other end of the balcony, which becomes our outdoor cafe for the summer. We set up a pretty table, with matching napkins and cutlery, glasses and plates in a range of blue, yellow and green that I’ve collected over the years, some vintage, some antique, some new.

The bench is just a homemade plywood box, (which contains all our hardware, tool boxes and gardening tools), with custom-made cushions and pillows that make it into a banquette we can easily toss indoors when it rains. Some of them are made of vintage fabric, one of them of two napkins I sewed together. The printed dark blue fabric is a bedspread that covers the hideous pebbled glass divider between our balcony and our neighbor’s.

Here’s a lovely blog post from London, about her balcony garden, recently chosen for Freshly Pressed.

Do you have a garden?

Details, please!

Balcony Life: Helicopters, Turkey Vultures, Stars

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 11:21 am
Red-tailed Hawk

Image via Wikipedia

The true sign of summer at our home, a one-bedroom apartment with little closet space, is when we start living on our balcony, a space 12 feet wide by six feet. For such a small amount of real estate, it makes us feel like millionaires.

We’re on the top floor, the sixth floor, with uninterrupted views of the Hudson River, a few miles to the west. Every weekday (grrrrr) it’s the damn helicopter of David Rockefeller thudding to and from his enormous estate just up the road. Last night it was a police helicopter, its searchlight sweeping the horizon and capturing us in its beam. Every day, since flight paths were changed, we have a steady stream of  private and commercial jets, some flying way too low for our comfort.

But it’s the birds that make it most interesting. I was deeply engrossed in a newspaper story a few years ago when I heard a “whoosh!”

Whoosh? A red-tailed hawk had swooped so close I heard the wind through its feathers. Same thing happened this morning as the sweetie read the paper and a turkey vulture overflew the roof. “Maybe I should move around a bit more,” he said nervously.

One of the sweetie’s specific talents is rescuing the tiny sparrows who fly into our windows and stun themselves. If we get to them quickly enough, a few drops of water and a little careful attention, and off they fly.

A few summer ago, a hawk landed on the balcony railing. I’d written a story about raptors, even having one perch on my arm, so I knew their eyesight is extraordinary. This one stared into my eyes for minutes. Neither of us moved. The sweetie, with quick reflexes, managed to find and focus his camera in time to capture its image.

Then it flew off, leaving only a few grains of sand from its talons as proof I hadn’t just hallucinated.

Last night I finally slept outdoors on the balcony. The night air was fresh and cool, a few stars visible, the dull rumble of bridge traffic only growing quiet around 2:00 a.m. The morning light streamed across the yellow and orange marigolds and strawflowers, now at my eye level.

Heaven.

72 Square Feet of Airspace — The Joys of a Balcony

In culture on August 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm
Edouard Manet: Le balcon

Image via Wikipedia

As summer fades into September, always annoyingly too soon, those of us lucky enough to have a terrace or balcony attached to our apartments are out there soaking up every last bit of fresh air and sunshine. I’m there in the cool, pearly early mornings, checking up on my pots of burgundy snapdragons and variegated ivy and marigolds and my beloved Alberta spruce who really needs a good trim right about now. At sunset, we settle in and count the pale pink con-trails as they fade, wondering where all those jets are coming from and going to. Thick flocks of sparrows dive-bomb us as they head, urgently, somewhere.

My balcony, at tree-top level, looks north up the Hudson River. One day, buried deep in some complicated story in The New York Times, my head down, I heard a “whoosh” near my right ear. Since there’s nobody anywhere near my balcony, except a floor below me, who whooshed? What else — a red-tailed hawk flying right past me, so close I heard the wind rushing through his wings.

I dread the long winter months when I lose my extra room in the sky and, as the days begin to cool, I’ll sit out there, wrapped in a blanket, as long as I can stand it.

Here are photos of some fantastic balconies, from Japanese teacups to a Dutch nest. Lima, Peru has some great examples. I’ve seen amazing ones in Istanbul, Malta and Spain. How about solar panels for your balcony?

There’s even  an Ottawa-based rock and roll band called The Balconies, not surprising that they’re Canadian, people who really know — in the depths of endlessly snowbound winters — how sadly fleeting summer is. There’s also a legendary Canadian play, Balconville, by David Fennario,  about a group of working class Anglos and Francophones who share their vacations in the only town they can afford to visit balconville — on their balcons, their balconies.

Do you have a balcony you’re enjoying these days? Or a favorite one you’ve visited?

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