White Rock used to participate in the national Communities in Bloom program, but as far as I can see they haven’t done so for a number of years. It’s a shame because there are so many lovely gardens in our pretty little City by the Sea.
The long growing season, the lovely sunshine, the (normally) ample moisture all contribute to copious blooms and rich green foliage. Not everybody knows how to harness and choreograph all those elements, it’s a true art and takes lots of time, energy and patience.
If I was awarding the prize for the best condo garden display in White Rock, hands down it would go to this building on Merklin. Bold color, changes of height, and the use of texture all convene to make one of the finest displays in town. With both staple perennials and the addition of carefully placed annuals this wall of blooms has been flowering incessantly for the past two months. I love to walk by and see what’s new every week.
Whomever is responsible should be proud of what s/he has accomplished. You get five stars from me.
The good, the bad and the ugly; that’s what comes to mind as I wander the streets of White Rock looking at planters. Another staple of condo buildings, planters are often used to flank the entranceway or add drama to the landscape.
Some buildings have take time to either plan their containers well or they’ve hired a person with some know how. Other condos have taken the “Marge always does it” approach. Poor Marge, someone should speak to her about the marigolds.
I have no desire to “planter shame” any buildings in White Rock, so I’m just going to stick to posting some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen within a few blocks of my place.
Containers should be made up of “thrillers” (plants that stand high and perhaps have a strong color or presence), “fillers” (the soil level plants that anchor the display) and “spillers” (the leggy ones that hang over the side). Sometimes not all three are necessary as you’ll see from these photos I took, but you’ll notice that the most interesting planters are those that have all these elements. Here are some good examples:
Personally I also like some stark contrast in color like in this one filled with purple and lime:
This one has a tall central plant but looks a bit unfinished:
And here’s an example of large planter with a tree as its main element, and it’s finished nicely with some anchoring foliage beneath:
Ivy is great for a spiller:
Love this ornamental grass:
There are lots of planter “recipes” on the Internet and ones for your specific zone can be found. Personally I enjoy wandering through the garden center and imagining how things will look together in a group. It’s a lot like painting with plants.
I’m growing cucs on the balcony in a container and I can assure you that my first cucumber of the year was absolutely delish. My plant looks like it has another dozen or so on the go, so I’m pretty stoked.
The yucca plant is another garden staple in the lower mainland of BC. I doesn’t require a lot of attention and can withstand both heat and drought. In White Rock they show up on boulevards, in flower beds and parking lots. In early spring they send up flower stalks which bloom in June with lovely white blossoms.
A couple of blocks from my home there’s a library that features North America’s largest and most diverse living wall. Designed by Green over Grey a Vancouver based company with projects across Canada and the USA, the wall was installed in 2010. With 2680 sqft of space and over 10,000 individual plants the “sky wall” is a living work of art.
From the Green over Grey website:
The original design is difficult to discern now that it has grown in; I took a few pictures of it this week. It’s really something to behold, although I think our extremely hot and dry spring/summer to date has taken its toll on some of the plants. That being said I saw birds enjoying the wall, insects buzzing around the flowers, and even some ripe ready to pick blueberries too high to reach.
My photos this week:
Green over Grey has done projects at numerous airports including Edmonton International and Vancouver. They do both interior and exterior walls and have corporate and residential clients. Inspiring!
Raymond Evison is a English gardener and plant breeder who has worked in developing clematis cultivars for over 50 years.
When I went to West Coast Gardens looking for a balcony-suitable climber I was directed to the “new” Evison clematis’. Apparently they flower in late spring and then again later in the late summer. Mine has been forming buds for the past few weeks and I’ve been excitedly waiting to see what the flowers will look like. Today I was rewarded. I chose a pink double flower variety called “Empress”, simply because I thought the picture on its accompanying card was pretty. I’m definitely not disappointed.
This clematis has been joyfully growing on my balcony for about a month, climbing noticeably higher on a daily basis. It seems to love the east-facing space where it gets good strong morning sun and avoids the strongest heat of the day.
In the winter I’m directed to cut the upper 1/3 of the plant and leave it outdoors where (as long as it has moderate wind protection) it will be safe until it begins to grow again the following spring.
Here are some photos I’ve taken over the past week. Enjoy!
As a newcomer to the lower mainland (and new to BC for that matter) I’m a rookie when it comes to growing things in zone 8. I’ve nurtured plants in zone 3 for forty-plus years but I’ve never lived anywhere but the Canadian prairies*.
It’s a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Plants thrive here in the warmth and humidity. They get several more months to grow and produce, whether flowers, seeds, herbs or fruit.
On the prairies timing is everything; you have to have your seeds in the dirt and under artificial light in March or you won’t have seedlings ready to plant out in May. If you transplant too early you can loose your tomatoes to frost, if you wait too long you may lose them in the fall before they’re at full production. It’s a risky business and every gardener has lost the gamble at one time or another.
Here in White Rock things are more flexible. The season is twice as long and that allows for some leeway in choosing what to plant and when safely expose it to the elements. Instead of choosing only seeds with a short “days to maturity” time, I can choose virtually any seeds. ANY SEEDS.
It’s no wonder the local farms are already selling freshly harvested carrots, tomatoes and baby potatoes at the market. The variety of local produce already available is staggering: strawberries, raspberries, greens, peppers, garlic, basil to name a few.
Even my own peppers and tomato plants are flowering on my balcony, something I’d be waiting another month or two to experience back in Edmonton. It’s a whole new adventure, and I think I’m going to be able to adjust just fine. <grin>
*Ok, I did live for four years in southwestern Ontario in my early twenties, but I’ve tried to wash those memories from my brain.
White rock balcony
There is no way that you can compare gardening in a full size zone 3 yard and gardening on a balcony in zone 8. In Edmonton I had a 60 x 120 foot lot and I took advantage of most of the property for my hobby. By the time I sold my house I had seven composters, several raised beds for vegetables and I’d converted half the front lawn to garden. Much to my (late) mother’s chagrin I even grew corn in my front yard.
I had gogi berries, raspberries and haskap (honey berries). I ate Carmine Jewel cherries from my tree in the backyard while waiting for dozens of tomato plants to produce their yearly bounty of juicy plum tomatoes for canning. I’ve grown tomatillos for salsa verde, I’ve had a spaghetti squash plant produce so many squash that I had to take them to the food bank, and I’ve eaten carefully stored carrots and potatoes well in to January.
Those days are over but not forgotten.
A balcony can support all sorts of plants, including fruit and veggies. Breeding has produced a bounty of fauna that is satisfied with life in a container, although container living means much more attention to their care.
Container plants need a good quality soil that retains moisture. They need regular watering and fertilizing – everything they need will have to be provided at regular intervals. Two hot days in a row with a moderate wind and balcony plants can be baked in situ.
My balcony is east-facing so it gets a strong morning sun which abates at around 11 am and by 4 pm it becomes a cool place to sit and enjoy the sound of birds and a gentle breeze. So far all of my herbs and flowers are doing spectacularly and I’ve potted two tomatoes, a Hungarian pepper and a cucumber. I’ve got two different climbers – a black-eyed susan vine and a specially bred clematis which is going like crazy (I’ll blog about that another day).
So although I can’t garden on the same scale as I have in the past, I can still enjoy my hobby. And hopefully I can enjoy some fresh tomatoes in a couple of months.