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my garden at work 2002


Just found some old photos of my last job before medical retirement. We had part of a long building, with a car park that had scrubby shrubs in slightly raised beds to mark each section’s parking places. But at the wall ends there was some bare ground, so …

The lower course of bricks is the original “raised” level; I found some bricks lying about and co-workers brought in some more for me – the soil, pots, plants etc were brought in from home on my shopping trolley. The shrub on the left of the picture was theirs – everything else was mine

I used a pallet partly to raise the plants somewhat, but mostly to delineate the area, otherwise I’d probably have ended by taking up a whole parking space

I got permission to have a hanging bracket for the ivy, and eventually had that whole run between ramp and wall filled with plants, and had started to move in on the other side of the ramp, too

the only way I could take a vista was to take two pictures side by side and hope I didn’t move the camera too much so they wouldn’t match neatly; this is one of the best ones I ever did – they more often came out as below, not quite matched, though taken from the identical spot with the camera moved slightly to one side; I always seem to move slightly vertically as well.

In the corner was a bit of dirt where a paving slab had been taken up for some reason and not replaced …

We guesstimated the sunflower to be about fifteen feet tall – I held it up with Scotch tape and parcel twine! It was about three months old at the time – not too bad for a very first effort …

I’m about five foot four, which gives a scale

It actually made the front page of local council free newspaper, gosh!

Sadly, the area was wide open to anyone, and I gave up after the third time it had been vandalised, pots smashed, others completely missing; even the ivy in the hanging basket and the rows of plants which had by that time colonised the spaces to each side of the ramp, which makes you wonder what the night security bloke was doing not to have seen or heard anything!

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Shame you couldn't really disguise those ugly air conditioning units with Russian Vine or something, wasn't it! I think you must have been an urban guerilla - good for you. :-))

7 Aug, 2011


That might have affected how they worked - when they did, that is! I did use the tops as plant stands, had some spider plants acclimatising there; they hung down a bit over the front but it'd be hard to really disguise those monstrosities.

I didn't know anything about guerilla gardening at the tieme; when I first came across the term, years later, I had to look it up; found lots of interesting articles. I don't think I'm quite that bold - I did ask first!

8 Aug, 2011



8 Aug, 2011


A great blog, Fran! I loved your way of planting up those wasted spaces! LOL! You did a fine job with the plants & the vandalism.

2 Oct, 2011


thanks, Balcony. It did make a difference to the feel of the place - the other offices had one layer of brick and hten bare dirt. *s* and I had about fifteen pot plants around our bit of office. Took a lot of watering, all told!

3 Oct, 2011


What plants did you have in the pots? I sympathize with you as I also have a lot of watering to do & I've a great deal more than 15!

10 Oct, 2011


lol a great deal more than 15 indeed- I've seen your pics!

My memory's a bit hazy (this was a millennium ago, after all!)

Mostly Spider Plants inside, they're supposed to be very good at cleaning the air; outsides, really whatever cuttings people gave me and whatever I had to hand: Spiders again, lemon-scented-leaf geraniums, begonias, even a Russian Vine someone gave me - it's not called the Mile-a-Minute plant for nothing!

But there were a lot of plants that I didn't know - if it grew, I tried to help it - at least until I found out that it was a weed, or too invasive.

I didn't buy many, or any that were too expensive: I relied mostly on donations, plants or cuttings and on growing-my-own offshoots - the indoor plants were as much a nursury as decoration in their own right.

I'll see if I can find a list, I usually had one, if only so that I could check on care, but I might have dumped it after I stopped the garden

Everything in my garden now is in pots, so the watering is still a bit of a chore - nowhere near as much as yours must be, I don't have as many plants for one thing, and thought my garden's not much bigger than your balcony, at least it's in the open where the rain can get at it, while your balcony is inset and I should think that only the outer layer gets free waterings.

11 Oct, 2011


My plants do need quite a bit of watering but it is only bad during hot spells. But this year I mixed in lots of water retaining gel crystals & it has cut down on the watering! Other years during the hottest of our summer days I've had to water my hanging baskets up to 3 times a day but this year even during the hottest days twice has been sufficient! They made a difference alright! :-))

I reuse old 2lt water bottles, I've been reusing the same bottles for some years now! I can't run a hose pipe from the kitchen or bathroom through the house out into the balcony. Anyway I prefer to use water that is at ambient temp not ice cold from the tap! Even on the allotment I keep two 10lt & two 5lt cans always full of water in the greenhouse!

The rain rarely does much good even with the pots that are not protected by the the balconies above us. Our balcony juts out about 50cm from those above. Unless we have a lot of rain, brought on the SW wind, I still have to water them as much as the ones that never get a drop of rainwater further in on the balcony.

16 Oct, 2011


Wow, even twice a day sounds like a labour of love. It helps that your plants are so concentrated, they create their own micro-climate that helps to support each other, but all the same ... how much water do you use each time, do you think/guess?

The water retaining crystals are very useful, I keep forgetting to add mine when I repot plants, so must get the sachets out and put them in plain sight for next time! I'm most ly going for "self-watering" pots and planters; reservoir underneath so that just needs filling now and then and the plants can take what they want, when they want. But that's only for bigger pots and troughs, they don't make 'em in the smaller sizes. - they also do self-watering hanging baskets, but I do'nt know how effective they are.

*s* I have thought of building my own - a large waterproof box, grille over, then smaller pots on that, each with a wick reaching down - then I'd only have to keep the tank topped up. Of course, that would make for a one-level display; I'm not sure if it'd work with "steps", even with longer wicks.

I used to get water in 5-litre bottles, and stored water in that for the plants; will again, but a bit hard to get home from shops, so it'll have to wait until I get back to online shopping. I wish I had a water butt, but there's no downpipes in my garden, or in any other that I can see; I dunno where the roof gutters drain to! perhaps a small water butt with a very big funnel might capture some, but ... I don't have many 1.5- or 2-litre bottles and I keep forgetting to draw the water beforehand to let it warm a bit - but then, as it takes about eight watering cans full, that'd make watering a bit slow.

I also mist the plants sometimes in the late afternoon or early evening when the sun's passed over: the moist air around the plants might help and even if not much, should'nt do much harm.

I'm still getting organised, it's only been about eight months since i first got the tables up and the plants where I could reach them, so I've no idea what might develop over time, provided I keep at it

17 Oct, 2011


Most of the time once a day is sufficient, twice is only needed when we get really high temps! I can use up to about 50Lt, again only on the hottest of days otherwise about 30Lt or so a day! We have some 5Lt bottles as well but as I can't manage them so well I stick to the 2Lt or 1.5Lt bottles.

I'm not sure but I think capillary action will only rise to about 50cm at most - if that. Downward flow has no limit so if you put your bottles higher than the pots you would have no trouble with watering them.

I could never mist my plants in the afternoon as the sun is on them all day from about 11am till it sets. The leaves would get scorched.

22 Oct, 2011


Just done a search on capillary action but it doesn't give such "imprecise" data such as I suggested above. I found a mathematical formula to work it out but I don't think that is necessary in this case! LOL!

22 Oct, 2011


hmm, it's been a long time since I used 5-litre bottles, and I was never able to heave them casually about even then, so pernhaps they'd be beyone me now, too - at least if they were full, and if they weren't I might as well use smaller ones in the first place. I also was planning to cut the bottoms off some and use them as cloches.

I've only seen water sold in 1.5 or 5 litres, I'll have to check out 2-litre bottles, I've only seen them with soft drinks, and I don't drink them enough to build up a collection. I have thought of getting a very small water butt, with a tap, or a camping water carrier, also with a tap, then it doesn't really matter how heavy it gets, once it's in a place where it won't get in the way later and have to be moved!

I should stand my plants in trays, especially the ones on the steps - when i water them it runs straight through and out of the bottom, rather than being held for them to use later; a wick would work then. Waterind downwards is a bit of a prob: where to put the reservoir where you'd still be able to reach it to fill it - and it'd need some solid support.

hmm, wonder if there's a system for hanging a water bottle with wicks or very thin pipes in place of the stopper? it might need refilling every day, but even once a day would be a saving on wtering twice or thrice. *s* this calls for some thought and probably a lot of very rough sketches! Of course, with the number of plants you have, you'd need a few dotted around. It wouldn't look very elegant, but it might do the job, and it could be disguised or hidden by plants.

There'd probably be no point in misting your plants in the morning, either, unless you did it very early, otherwise there'd likely be some water droplets on them when the sun reached them. Might there be some way of putting small dishes of water between the plantingss? then natural evaporation might help. or misting them after sunset; they'd have all night then, might make up for dry-air day. But again that would take space. I only get an hour of sun, around noon, so it's safe for me to mist in the afternoon.

I hadn't thought about how much water I use; it takes six to eight watering cans to do all the plants, I'll have to check how much the can holds.

Oh, I found an eBay shop that does recycled water butts, cheap when considering how much "proper" ones are! Apparently when olives are imported, they use once-only plastic drums, which are then discarded; this bloke scrubs them out and turns them into water butts. They start at 40-50L and work up. If it'd be any use to you I'll post the url of his online shop. I've been in touch with him because I was thinking of a fill-from-tap water butt, there being no downpipes to tap into; unless i put a huge funnel on top of it!

23 Oct, 2011


"... unless i put a huge funnel on top of it!"

A bit unsightly that would be! Also easy to bump into & knock over!

Thanks for the offer of the url to the eBay shop but I don't think I'll be changing my system of watering, just yet at least. Sounds an interesting idea nonetheless! Some of those barrels might have contained olives in vinegar so a careful "sniff" might be in order to make sure there are no residues - you wouldn't want you harm your plants! Most I think are preserved in brine so maybe less of a problem.

I water my plants mostly in the evening, unless it's a very hot day & I have to water twice, that way they get to replenish the water they lose during the day overnight & are fully "primed" for the next day's weather.

23 Oct, 2011


nods, he says he brush-washes them inside and out and airs them, but another wash wouldn't often go amiss, I think.

nods, I don't like to water when it's hot, more must evaporate than be absorbed.

23 Oct, 2011

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