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Adding a little "charm"


Hi to all,

While spring in England has undoubtedly now arrived, we here in Switzerland rejoice if we can find one snowdrop or anemone. And I don’t mean up in the Alps, where I don’t live, but down here by the Lake of Constance, where I do live.

For want of anything much to do in the garden right now (yes, I’ve been tidying up), I’ve been taking long looks at my covered terrace at the back of the house, a situation which has in the nearly 7 years I’ve lived here, never really “done it for me”. It has no charm. None. I began by planting a Bobby James to grow up and around the balcony, and it was absolutely breathtaking the second year, and then got totally out of hand, more than I could manage, full of lice and shedding snowdrifts of petals all over the place. In short, I went through the horrendous mess of cutting it down and removing it entirely.

You’ll see the pics I’ve attached here. I would like to counteract the ugly materials from which this upstairs balcony (and the roof it provides for the terrace below it) is made. Can someone give me some advice? I’d love to cover over the “ceiling” with wood. But is this possible? What would be the downside? Any ideas or experience very welcome.

I want to replace the table and chairs (with wooden ones), which are devoid of charm, and I need some kind of climber to drape itself around the balcony, hanging tendrils (of charm) down into the sitting area. It shouldn’t be too heavy (wisteria, ivy, hydrangea, virginia creeper) or too messy (polygonum or Bobby James!) so I was thinking of something like an actinidia (the one with those wonderful pink leaves) or something along the line of hops. Drapy.

Anyhow, here are some pics to give an idea of what I am talking about, and if anyone has any advice – concerning plant-choices as well as carpentry – I’d really appreciate hearing it!

Many thanks! And enjoy those daffodils! Nancy

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Not quite spring here yet, 21st is first day of spring, and the last few nights have been frosty, and parts of UK have had snow.

6 Mar, 2009


Interesting blog. Sorry, I can't give any carpentry advice etc.. I'm a bit of a disaster area when it comes to that sort of thing but I'm sure someone will have some good advice. You're right about our spring flowers arriving but even here in the mild South East, we are having hard frosts most mornings so will have to wait for spring to properly arrive. Hopefully it will as last year we didn't really get any traditional spring weather. But a lovely sunny day here today even though very cold! Good luck with your balcony project.

6 Mar, 2009


Hi Lilycoton, how about a passion flower growing up a column? It has lovely flowers, edible fruits (if you get the right one), grows quite fast and appreciates a prune now and again. We've been very pleased with the behaviour of ours (check out my photos) and it certainnly added a charm to our balcony, as well as the added interest from the bees and other insects. Good luck.

7 Mar, 2009


You live in Spain. I live in Switzerland. I don't see passion flowers growing up columns around here. I wonder if our climate is not suitable...?

7 Mar, 2009


Forgot to say THANKS for the suggestion. I'll certainly look into it! :-)

7 Mar, 2009


I haven't answered you before because:

1. I leave all that DIY stuff to my husband
2. I am not at all sure what your winter/summer temps are like where you are!

However - I have tried to think about it!! I don't know about wood on the ceiling, I think you might need expert advice on that. Would battens or wires be possible otherwise?

I guess that most British climbers which are hard and don't object to a bit of shade would be OK - Honeysuckle? That would be happy under and across. I don't think that Actinidia (sp) would be hardy enough. Roses would be lovely up supports, but not under the roof, not enough light. Maybe a combination?

7 Mar, 2009


How about an evergreen Clematis (Armandii) They grow quite big and have masses of small cream coloured blooms in March. Mine is in bud at the moment. I would think it would be hardy enough, although you'd be best to check.

7 Mar, 2009


Hi Lilycoton. Yes, I live in Spain, but I'm in the north where the climate is not dissimilar to that of Britain - so might be worth giving Passion flower a go?

8 Mar, 2009

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