St Johns Wood

St Johns Wood

If you’re planting on a balcony, you’ve got to be bold. A balcony is no place for subtlety. You only have a few plants at your disposal, so you need to create maximum impact with them. That way, you can enjoy them from the inside and passersby can enjoy them from the outside.

On my old balcony I experimented with all kinds of subtle combinations. They looked pretty when I was sitting right next to them, but didn’t look too special from the other end of my living room. From a few floors down, they looked a bit of a mess. But when I planted red geraniums, they were visible from the other end of the Willesden High Road – and if you’ve been to the Willesden High Road, you’ll know that that can only be a good thing.

Red really draws the eye – not always what you want in a border, but perfect on a balcony. I like red mixed with pink. I also like red mixed with orange. I also like pink and orange. I love red, orange and pink against black. But I do not like pink on its own. I do hope you’ve got all that.

South Bank

When I stepped into Judith’s living room, I had the weirdest feeling: it was exactly as I’d imagined it moments before. It reminded me of my old flat, especially as it has patio doors that look onto a balcony.

My flat was on the Willesden High Road, possibly the only road in London that has got more grotty and not the least bit gentrified in the last ten years. Meanwhile Judith lives in the lovely Oxo Tower on the South Bank. But her balcony and my old one are pretty similar – south facing, rather windswept, in a very urban setting and packed to the gunnells with plants. Judith has done what I never quite managed with mine – she’s added height using steps and little tables. She’s also got some jaunty bunting.

My balcony got me interested in gardening and it also kept me sane. Spending time on it was noisy but therapeutic and I loved gazing at a sea of green from my sofa. It sure beat the view directly below, although my young nephew loved it – he once asked to come and visit me so that he could ‘watch the police cars’.

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