Gardens - Featured Gardens

A benevolent balcony makeover

Issue 10060001

This article appeared in June 2010 issue

Inviting plant material and a soothing aesthetic refurbish the balcony at Toronto's Ronald McDonald House


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  • 'Burgundy Glow' bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow') is added in the fall as a filler.
  • Tuberous begonias (Begonia cvs.) in white and yellow are excellent partial shade plantings for large flowers produced all summer long. They can withstand a small amount of neglect —overwatering and poor drainage is what kills them.
  • Purple ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea [Acephala Group]), with its bold texture and colour, is used in autumn as a specimen plant.
  • Trailing lobelia (Lobelia erinus cvs.) is an excellent plant for partial shade and cool weather in summer. It produces masses of small flowers and hardly any foliage; Peter used it here for a short-term burst of colour, as heat and drought will exhaust it.
  • Annual dyer's tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria), with its golden yellow daisy blooms, provides colour and impact as the weather cools in the fall. The flowers are held on thin, wiry stems well above the foliage, creating another layer in the container planting.
  • 'Margarita' sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') has chartreuse, heart-shaped foliage produced in abundance on a fast-growing vine. It's excellent in both shade and sun for colour and interest.
  • 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue') climbs the trellis on the west side and screens out the view of the brick wall.
  • Mandevilla (Mandevilla hybrid) was used as filler in the planters. It doesn't bloom well in shade, but will produce interesting, textured green growth.

Photo top: Sheer curtains and paper lanterns help soften the look of the concrete and create a calming, restful oasis. Curtains, lanterns, lamp, paper lanterns, all Ikea; cushion fabrics, Headley in Gingko, New Op in Lettuce, Sunbrella; plants, Loblaws.

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