A balcony garden may sound like something of a luxury but they’re enjoying a boom in popularity.
‘We have had five times more inquiries this year than before the pandemic,’ says Isabelle Palmer, whose company, The Balcony Gardener, supplies to order, everything from window boxes to complete gardens.
‘People were desperate to have somewhere to go outside and get some air, and for many the balcony was the answer.’
Small is beautiful: Skye Baker and boyfriend Alex on their Solihull balcony. For Skye, her balcony garden is a reminder of an idyllic childhood
And this year’s Chelsea Flower Show featured balcony gardens for the first time.
Gardening is now distinctly cool — part of the modern lifestyle trend embracing all things natural and eco-friendly.
A new generation of gardeners such as Alexandra Noble, 32, and Jack Wellington, 39, is breaking the outdated, old-man-in-a-shed stereotype.
Plus, the Royal Horticultural Society reported 31 million hits on its website last year – up 57 per cent on the previous year and 28 per cent of those visitors were under the age of 35.
So how do you go about creating a balcony garden if you don’t have green fingers? ‘Choose plants which will thrive in the conditions on your balcony and which will fit in with your lifestyle,’ says Isabelle.
‘If you are south facing, geraniums should do well. If you have a lot of shade, think about bamboo, primroses and foxgloves.
‘Question whether you can spare the time to water and care for more delicate plants. If you can, great – go for wisteria and roses.
If not, then Mediterranean plants are bright and colourful and won’t wilt if left for a few days in the sun.’
Budding balcony gardeners should consider how much time they have to spend taking care of their new green space – and choose their plants accordingly
Isabelle outlines balcony gardening’s most common problem — the location of the water supply. If you have a tap outside, fine, but if you have to traipse through the flat with a watering can, don’t have plants that need constant watering.
If the balcony is windy, try low-lying plants, such as begonias, that are less likely to break in a gale. Don’t just have pots on the deck. Think about creating a vertical garden, always ensuring it is safe.
For Skye Baker, 24, an arts and humanities student who recently moved, with boyfriend Alex, into the Woodland’s Park development in Solihull, her balcony garden is a reminder of an idyllic childhood.
‘My mum had a huge garden. She was so keen on gardening that when I was 13 she bought me a pop-up greenhouse with all the tools and seeds – it was brilliant,’ she says. ‘After school I would go straight out to the garden where I grew tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries and strawberries.
‘I had already planned the balcony in my head by the time I moved in here, with seven planters, garden furniture, fairy lights and baskets. Alex has never had a garden before, and it’s been really lovely for us to have something to share.’
Located in the Blythe Valley Park and surrounded by countryside, Woodlands Park is 30 minutes from Birmingham by car. One-bedroom apartments are from £94,500 using Home Reach, a part-buy/part-rent scheme. Two-bedroom flats cost £242,000.
Sometimes balcony owners put more focus on outdoor furnishings than on plants. Adriel Lack, creative designer at Raven and Lack, designed the balcony for an apartment in the canalside Chelsea Creek development, a short distance from London’s King’s Road. The apartment is for sale for £750,000 (chelseacreek.co.uk).
‘I use comfortable furniture that you want to spend time on,’ Adriel says. ‘Outdoor speakers create ambience and colourful cushions add personality.’
Some say decorating balconies imaginatively can be beneficial for residents’ mental health. During lockdown at Quintain Living’s Wembley Park development, the balconies, with bright container plants such as petunias and busy lizzies, would come alive with twinkling fairy lights.
Studios up to four-beds are available from £1,655 pcm (quintainliving.com).