Disability Doesn’t Stop This Nature Lover from Creating Beautiful Patio and Balcony Garden Sanctuaries
GardensAll community member, Lesley Cole, shares her beautiful photos and tips of flowers for balconies. What’s all the more remarkable about Lesley’s balcony garden is that she’s disabled and yet creates is all, with limited mobility from a wheelchair!
Lesley’s words are captured throughout this article in italics.
GARDENER, LESLEY COLE’S MOTTO:
“To build a spot of Paradise everywhere I go.“
And indeed she has!
A One Pot Balcony Garden
At one point, as Lesley’s disability required her to move into subsidized housing, the apartment complex only allowed ONE potted plant!!
Lesley called that “soul crushing”, but, in here typical creative — and determined — survivor mode, she found a way to make the most out of even that stern limitation.
Instead, Lesley got the largest pot that would fit on her tiny 10 foot patio. She planted clematis and fit a trellis under the balcony above her with matching lavender rose, coral bell, Columbia, and alternating perennials. Later she added a lily.
It’s surprising what can be grown from just one large flower pot with a little creativity and ingenuity!
Flowering Vine Plants Create a Beautiful Privacy Screen for Balconies and Patio Gardens
Growing a beautiful living, flowering privacy fence from just one large pot!!
Chocolate Fuchsia, Yellow Calla Lily & Chartreuse Hosta
I loved experiments with chocolate fuchsia, yellow calla, and chartreuse hosta!
Flowers for Balconies
Love Lies Bleeding – Amaranthus caudatus – An Edible Beauty
These amaranth flowers add graceful fuschia beauty to a balcony garden. But more than that, all amaranth plants are edible, so you can have your beauty and eat it too!
Although the flowers produce MANY seeds, (over 100,000 per plant), you would need a field of them to have enough to harvest for use in cooking as a grain. However the leaves added to salads are an easy win for this lovely balcony plant, including for fall salad greens.https://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/amaranth-plant.html
Amaranth is a high protein seed used like a grain, with beautiful edible flowers, leaves and even the stems and shoots. Just leave the majority of leaves intact to continue nurturing the plant.https://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/amaranth-plant.html https://pallensmith.com/2016/10/07/5-things-you-didnt-know-amaranth/
Amaranth are beautiful flowers for balconies and every part of the amaranth plant is edible. Enjoy the leaves as you would spinach.
Daylily Flowers for Balconies
I love to buy pansy or viola to flesh out the lily pots with color and blooms while the lily trees grow.
The daylily pot stays full with its own grassy mound. I often plant a daylily that dies back in winter with a daylily that’s green all year. That way the pot has a green top on it through winter.
Yellow Umbrella of Turban Lily
“My all time favorite was the wonderful yellow Umbrella of Turban Lily.”
Lily – Tree Lilies
Lesley used large potted plants to help create a protective screened area for privacy for her balcony where she and her dogs could sit and enjoy the beautiful balcony and the great outdoors while still having privacy.
We sit quietly on the bench hidden behind that screen of green. The lilies are astonishing in size and abundance and the sweet smell fills the entire neighborhood! No more complaints about dog smells!
Lesley’s Story of Her Next Balcony Garden Project
Finally I was able to escape city housing and move to county owned and managed senior apartment in Woodburn. Mexican migrant workers live here in Woodburn. I love it.
The management allows us to plant in the ground around our apartment patios and landscape area. The landscape is all in white flowering bushes and trees. So it allows us to run wild with color.
Fantastic work done by neighbors!
I break several rules by having a German Shepherd service dog. I can be kicked out if she scares someone. I can’t help if someone’s afraid of a German shepherd! But I can keep her calm and happy and still enjoy the patio.
I’ve been able to negotiate a small enclosed area off the patio hidden by an evergreen shrub. Enclosed with the hex pen it gives the dogs a privacy poo area. I keep it clean and use sawdust pellets and lime to keep the scent and appearance acceptable. So being surrounded by lilies helps with happy neighbors!
About the time they get nervous about my jungle it’s time to trim them down. 😊
I can’t thank the management enough for the gift of soil we are allowed here! My Russian and Mexican neighbors are all retired farmers and are content on their patio with their own flowers and vegetables or herbs.
Creating a Private Balcony With Garden Panels, Vines and Large Flowers
I out maneuvered the no fence or chain tie out rules by setting up garden panels. It sports my need for privacy and dogs’ idea of what is their space.
For a balcony privacy, I trained jasmine and clematis up the panels and over a small iron arbour.
Large Potted Plants With Flowers for Natural Private Balconies
Next step was the matching pots planted with tree Lily and Canna. In winter it’s neat and trimmed to the ground.
And by the end of spring I’m behind a jungle! The green screen makes the dogs quiet and content while pedestrians walk by on the sidewalk.
Garden Basket Arrangements of Flowers for Balconies
Even if you don’t have a patio or balcony, a lovely garden landscape in a pot, or a single floral plant can make a big difference in any environment.
Everblooming Pots Are Great for Flowers for Balconies and Patios
I started studying the idea of everblooming pots when my apartment at the time said I can plant in pots but not in the ground.
One of my pots with chartreuse genie and white petunia and canna all in a gallon size width pot. It’s tall so the roots can grow down but it was crowded. Shows how annuals can be used over bulbs.
How to Create an Everblooming Flower Pot for Balcony, Deck or Patio
- Lay bulbs and roots in layers according to planting depth.
- Choose plants according to blooming season, e.g.:
- A handful of crocus will give you earliest interest.
- a pot of daylily can be packed with earliest bloom, spring to summer, late summer to fall.
- add in pansies or viola and you have earliest colors all the way through to winter.
Depending on your location, some will stay green all winter and others die back to the ground.
Shade Loving Plants and Flowers for Balconies
Hosta and Day Lilies
Ferns and Hostas Are Also Edible!
A favorite for shaded spots is the low pot with hosta and fern.
Fern and Hostas add visual interest and variations of texture and leaf colors as well as flowers.
Not only are hostas beautiful balcony plants but they’re also edible! Some varieties are ferns are as well, with fern fern fiddleheads being deemed a delicacy.https://www.foragersharvest.com/uploads/9/2/1/2/92123698/fern_fiddleheads.pdf
And we get it… most of us don’t want to go and eat our ornamental plants, we’d rather look at them! But in terms of making ends meet and knowing options, edible ornamentals is the best of both worlds. It’s good to know that there are edible ornamental plants, especially in the face of trying times such as the pandemic that world has gone through.
Ornamental plants that are also edible are a great solution for foodscaping landscaped areas. These multipurpose plants are also perfect for those who want to grow food in subdivisions with homeowner association (HOAs) restrictions that don’t allow vegetable gardens in the front or side yard, or even at all.
Tobacco Plant – Lovely Red Flowers for Balconies
Who knew that tobacco plants had such big beautiful and sweet smelling red flowers?!?
We didn’t, but glad to discover it! It turns out that while we all now know that smoking tobacco is bad for health, there are some health and other benefits being studied for external and garden use of tobacco leaves. From insect repellent in the garden, to relief of itchy skin applied externally, research is underway, and we look forward to learning of more proven benefits.
From pest control to soothing skin irritations and itches, it just makes sense that such a potent plant as the tobacco plant would have some positive uses and benefits.1
And of course there’s the lovely flowers for bees and other pollinators!
Vining Plants and Arrangements
Red Rose, Purple Clematis and Yellow Canary Vine
Training red rose, purple clematis, and yellow canary vine makes an outstanding grouping.
Climbing Rose, Canary Vines and Basket of Flowers
I trained climbing rose with canary vines and basket of flowers.
Yellow Mandevilla Vine
Just one simple brightly colored garden accessory like this birdhouse that Lesley painted, can add visual pizazz to cap a floral balcony setting.
Climbing Rose Arbor
One apartment I moved into had roses that “never bloom.” They were climbing roses, so I “played” with them. A few years later I had this beautiful braided rose arbour over my patio with red chairs.
Patio Garden Decor – Simple Touches Add Up
Bird Cage and Birdhouses
Just a few plants placed in and around a bird cage, plus a couple of birdhouses turn this small patio into a garden scene.
Create a Gardenscape Corner on a Balcony or Patio by Adding a Tiny Birdhouse
More tiny birdhouse decor amongst big beautiful lilies for an artistic flare to a corner of a patio.
Secondhand Finds for Creative Gardenscaping a Patio or Balcony
Japanese Lamp Shade adds a Rustic Zen Touch
Using old things for new effects can add attractive features in balcony gardens. This old throw away lamp shade creates Japanese garden effect displayed over lilies.
Old Urn Adds a Folksie Touch
Second hand finds add color and interest to small patio gardens like this country urn amidst asparagus fern and petunias.
Shop Yard Sales and Flea Markets for Second Hand Finds for Garden Decor
You just need a piece or two of something with bright color or unique shape or design, or something folksy to really uplift a garden spot.
Like this colorful wave serving platter under a plant, or the artsy ceramic kitty visible under the glass table. Use old metal patio chairs sanded and painted with bright colored paint and you have a cheerful
“My love of red and yellow show up here. This is all second hand finds and a mixed pot of blooms. A favorite sitting area for coffee break.”
Winter Patio Garden
Here Lesley’s use of tall giant bamboo look pots and wrought iron panels adds a lovely ambience.
The heart and crystal suncatchers on the post add whimsy and artistic flare, as does the metal horse and bright red table that compliments the red pot. The long legs of the horse reflect the tall bamboo-like pots.
Patio Garden “Rooms”
Lesley’s Health Challenges
People naturally want to know what happened to Lesley’s health for her life to have changed so dramatically so here’s a little bit of that story.
I had a cyst wrap around my spinal cord and block it off. Took spinal cord surgeries and tho everything works it’s cut signal so much that I’m getting weaker and weaker and resulting in damages to the entire nervous system. So I’m able to stand and climb into the tub or bed but can’t vacuum or cook, etc.
I have put my brain hand to work daily practicing intricate work by using paint by number.
I got a German Shepherd pup so I would be forced to do that bend and scoop and strengthen arms..
I have trained dogs for 40+ years so identifying a training strategy from a wheelchair was just another interesting effort.
I refuse to let myself fall into the poor me trap.
From Farming and Animal Husbandry to Disability
As my life was spent in organic gardening, living off the land, soil studies and extensive animal husbandry, I really miss that!
Being forced to take government sponsored apartments was my worst downer.
I rented an old apartment in Salem. They didn’t even water the end I rented. I got a two bedroom apartment by taking that end and across the fence from a Mexican dance bar! LOL.
Eventually by working with a manager I was able — pot by pot — to wrap the end of the apartment complex in a glorious garden with two sitting areas and just loved it! Also the neighbors began hanging pots of flowers as well. We became a little village.
Bring beauty everywhere you go and you’ll always have beauty. Same for love. They go hand-in-hand, for gardeners lovingly bring beauty to life.
~LeAura Alderson, co-owner, GardensAll.com
What Could Be More Pleasing to God?
Having a crushing car accident stopped me from handling the larger garden pots but you can build any size starting with one pot at a time.
Gardening takes all the strength and effort I have but I’ve set the task of watering one bucket at a time! I sit with my coffee and dogs and enjoy each step. Then I get to enjoy the fruits of my labour and it all pays off with a glorious way to just sit and relax.
I have people say why are you putting money into the ground of a RENTAL? I explain that I want my own piece of paradise. Leaving it behind and starting over each time I have to move is ok with me.
“I’m leaving a spot of everblooming paradise behind me everywhere I go… what could be more pleasing to God?“
~Lesley Cole, on growing flowers even as a renter
We’re so inspired by Lesley’s resilience and resourcefulness, and her ethic of bringing beauty everywhere. Imagine if more people did that, what a wonderful world this will be.
Meanwhile, we can do our part, as Lesley is, beginning with our little slice of paradise, be that 10 acres or one balcony, or one plant in an apartment, there’s something beautiful we can grow.
We still have more to share on Lesley’s flowers for balconies, so we’ll repost this on all the socials with new additions over time.
Meanwhile, we agree with Lesley’s motto:
A GARDENER’S CREED:
“To build a spot of Paradise everywhere I go.“
~Lesley Cole, gardener, service dog trainer
And indeed she has! Well done, Lesley Cole, and thank you for sharing your beautiful plant photos with us!
Find more patio and balcony garden ideas here.
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.