Homes and gardens

How green is my balcony

Beena Augustine’s garden on the first floor.

Beena Augustine’s garden on the first floor.  

Parvathy Nair enjoys her pretty garden full of flowers and a kitchen garden with vegetables. “I have roses, Pentas, Zenia, Ixora , orchids, jasmine and Balsam. I wanted colours and greens in my garden. So I can pluck flowers for my pooja room and also enjoy the fragrance of the blooms in my garden,” says Parvathy, radio jockey and programming head of Red FM. The fact that her garden is in the balcony of her house does not dampen her enthusiasm one bit.

Parvathy Nair in her garden on the balcony

Parvathy Nair in her garden on the balcony  

Another avid gardener is Beena Augustine. Her landscaped garden is filled with ferns, shrubs and lilies. She also happens to live in a high rise and her beautiful garden in her balcony showcases her green fingers.

In the case of M.R. Rajan, vice-president, Asianet, it was his love for the outdoors that motivated him to try gardening in the balcony of his flat on the seventh floor. “In Thrissur, where I hail from, I grew up in a house with a big compound and plenty of trees and plants. I wanted to retain my touch with the ground and so when we moved from our rented place, I took my potted plants to my flat,” he says.

Recently, he was pleasantly surprised to see his Nishagandhi in full bloom on his tiny garden where his plants jostle for space with drying clothes and a pigeon that nests there. “In addition, I have a tulsi, tomatoes, green chilli and some old fashioned cheera. This is my way of creating the outdoors inside my flat,” says Rajan.

Nishagandhi in full bloom at M. R. Rajan’s garden on the balcony

Nishagandhi in full bloom at M. R. Rajan’s garden on the balcony  

Many residents living in the vertical spaces have not given up their love for greenery. So balconys and terraces are turning into gardens filled with flowers, ferns, shrubs, vegetables and more.

A rooftop garden or one on your balcony is the ideal way to grow flowers or fruits if you happen to live in a flat or in a house without a ground.

If you are a beginner, first find out whether it is possible to create a garden on your roof and balcony, advises agriculture expert Anitha C.S. She explains: “Either you have to provide provisions while constructing your house or else make sure the roof is able to hold the weight of the garden, including that of wet soil. Once you tackle all these issues and set up a garden, it would have pride of place in your home.”

She adds: “Flowerbeds can be made directly on the roof by filling soil between the parapet wall and innerwall using moisture-proof wooden shuttering, stones or bricks. Containers in different shapes and of different materials can be arranged according to one’s imagination. Lightweight containers and light-weight potting mixtures containing coirpith are available. So are powder coated, durable wrought iron potstands to accommodate plants in a limited space.”

Hanging pots and spiral holders in wood, plastic, ceramic and fibre add colour and aesthetics to your garden. Rail planters are the latest of this kind, which is nothing but pots specifically designed for handrails and balconies.

“I buy most of my gardening material from the Agro Bazaar in East Fort. Another place I frequent is Atma Nilayam nursery in Parassala and also a wayside vendor in Palayam. Online shops also have lots of interesting stuff to decorate your garden with,” says Parvathy.

Anitha points out that care has be exercised while selecting plants for your roof garden or balcony. “As with any garden, a roof garden should have a dominant focal point, like a lawn or watergarden or rock garden or a prominent climber. Plan your garden with barriers of masses of bright colour and tall growing plants at the outer edges of the terrace,” she elaborates.

Beena got professional landscapers to do up her 500 square feet space in her home on the first floor.

“There are coloured pebbles and I have added a book shelf, a garden chair and a table. It has become a charming space that is a favourite place of the entire family. Bulbuls often nests on our terrace, either on one of the shrubs or in the lanterns,” adds Beena.

A good roof garden features climbers and trailers. For trailing and supporting vines, walls, pillars, wrought iron stands and coir poles are used.

Various flowering and foliage plants can be displayed neatly in hanging baskets. Pots placed in vertical stands save space.

Beena sums it up neatly as she says that the garden in her flat is where the family gets together.

“It is also the place where my husband Thomas Kuruvilla, a former Principal, spends most of his time reading. An ideal place to enjoy the breeze and the sights!”

Top up your garden

Garlic climbing plant Adenocalymma alliaceum, Bougainvillea, Clerodendron splendens, Bignonia vensuta and climbing rose are some favourites. Night blooming jasmines add fragrance. Garden chairs provide a place to sit. Climbers can be grown over the wall to add a splash of colour to your walls. Ficus repens is a good root climber that can cover the wall. Other attractive creepers include Railway creeper and morning glory. Annual plants that love the sunlight like Zinnia, Balsam, Celosia, Cocks comb, Torenia, Marigold, Bachelor’s button and Portulaca, shrubs like roses and Lantana bloom profusely on the roof. Seasonal bulb plants such as Amaryllis, Football lily and Gladiolus can also be displayed in your garden roofs during season. There is also scope for a lilly pond in fibreglass tanks and artificial small fountains. A display of Bonsai can also add an artistic touch to your green space.

Courtesy: Anitha C.S.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:27:07 AM |

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