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Container Gardening on a Shady Balcony

My daughter shared her starter container garden from her apartment balcony. Tending a garden is a great way to handle stress, and be part of the seasonal Cycle of Life. It can be indoors by a window, outdoors on a grand scale, or a container garden that livens up a corner in your life. Here’s Elena’s Victory Garden:

I’m very thankful for my small slice of outdoor space, especially during this time, but I really wish it got more sunlight. Just after moving to this apartment in Central Maryland last spring, I was a bit too optimistic about the amount of sun my Northeast-facing balcony received and attempted to grow some herbs in containers. After that experiment failed, I decided to try planting full to partial shade perennials this year. While I won’t get to produce anything edible for me, I’m hoping it will be good food for pollinators. So far it’s going really well! The first picture below shows what it looked like just after planting on April 23, and the following image shows what it looks like today after almost 3 weeks:

I got all of the plants online from American Meadows and High Country Gardens. I ordered a brunnera, black eyed susans, a hardy plumbago, and a meadow sage which all arrived as seedlings. I also ordered astilbes, bluebells, and ferns which all came as bare roots. This was very intimating to me as a beginner gardener, but it has been so cool to see the astilbes actually be the most vigorous and fast-growing plants in the garden! The bluebells had a slower start, but some small green shoots have recently emerged. Unfortunately, one of the bluebells and all of the ferns seem to have failed.  On the whole though, with 10/14 total plants doing well so far, I’m very happy with how things are going.

Right to left: Ostrich Plume Astilbe, Virginia Bluebell, Alexander’s Great Brunnera

Being home most of the time these days has allowed me to really pay attention to the incremental change and growth happening out there, which has been really neat, but also an exercise in patience! Now that we seem to be adapting to a new normal for the time being during this pandemic, more of my local plant nurseries and garden supply shops have added online shopping and curbside pickup options. I definitely plan to pick up a couple items locally to fill in for the failed ferns and finish up spring planting.