URBAN GARDEN: Small can be beautiful

What a great honour to be featured in the Irish Independent on Saturday Gardening Supplement this weekend. 

 Irish Independent, 10 Mar 2018

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 Irish Independent

DIANA VALENTINE is the owner of interiors store home-lust.com. She grows a container garden on the balcony of her fourth-floor apartment in Booterstown, Dublin. She says: “I have a large winter garden-style balcony on the fourth floor of a building overlooking a golf course,with views of the Southside towards the Dublin Mountains. We look onto a sea of green, so we wanted to replicate that inside.

“On a balcony, you have a limited but interesting choice of plants. Depending on the season, I have an assortment of trees and tall plants, hanging pots of trailing ivy and pearl succulents, and many small shrubs and grasses. Because we are near the sea, I grow pampas and ornamental grasses, citrus, bay, eucalyptus and olive trees, dwarf rhododendrons and a few types of palm and yucca. Also, now that we have a cat, there are masses of cat grass, too. Many of my indoor plants — ficuses, monsteras, ferns, aspidistras and succulents — are moved to the balcony between May and October. This is when the urban garden really shines. This year, we’re going more tropical and we’re looking at getting a few Chusan palms and Platt’s Black shrubs.

“My daughter, Mia, is seven and one of the reasons why we started the garden. She is really into the mucky stuff, potting and repotting, and anything that grows from seed. We have great fun buying pretty pots, then sowing the seeds. It can take forever, and the mess can be epic, but it’s a nice activity to do together. Checking if anything has sprouted every morning is also exciting.

“I try to have a lowmaintenance garden, as balconies don’t get the rain, and plants need a lot more watering and care. Plants on balconies, especially in front of glass, tend to burn in the sun, so arranging them carefully saves heartache down the line.

“Growing the balcony garden has been a revelation. There’s the therapeutic element of gardening, and there is something about the combination of bright greens and the elevation that makes the space quite special. Our cat also loves it; she has her own personal urban jungle to explore (and eat!).”

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