The Urban Way
By Frank Asher
Featured in the April edition of the Mid City DC magazine
To all urban gardeners:
To those of you who have small balconies, or tiny enclosed spaces outside with very little or no soil, yet you bring in containers and pots of all shapes and sizes to hold your plants, I say, “Thank you”!
To you folks who create a little green space on your windowsill with a few herbs, or you put a potted plant in the dark corner of your bedroom, I salute you!
All of you are a unique breed. If you are anything like me, you just have to have some green living things in your environment. I am grateful there are people who like to tend to plants. With all that is being torn apart, it is nice to remember there are people who nurture life.
The great thing about container gardening for the beginner is there are only a handful of easyrules to consider for successful plantings.
1) Know your sun requirements.
2) Know your watering requirements.
3) Be consistent in tending to your plant’s needs. ( It’s sort of like having a pet.)
4) If you don’t know about your plant’s ideal environment, ask a gardener.
There are no rules when it comes to your pots, containersand planters, as long as there is proper drainage and thickness especially if your pots are holding plants outdoors all year round. Containers can match in themes, color, shape, size, or they can be random and eclectic. No holds barred here. This is a chance to just float your boat!!
Simple, traditional terra cotta pots work fine. They are inexpensive and can be easily replaced.
There are some fine planters out there that are lightweight and yet very durable for D.C. winters. Some of these are made from fiberglass and cement. Yes, I said fiberglass and cement. These planters are weather hardy and lightweight compared to full on cement pots. Most are in very modern shapes and very angular. They work well for close corners.
There are also some beautiful glazed pots large and small in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. I say just play here. Some are frost resistant
For those of you with rooftops with full sun who want to create outdoors spaces, you might want to choose plants that are tolerant of our hot summers.
Trees: Crepe Myrtle, Fig, Hollywood Juniper.
Woody Shrubs: Rosemary, Lavender, Service Berry.
Perennials: Iris, Lily, Spirea, Cone Flower.
Annuals: Marigolds, Petunias, Celosia.
Vines: Moon Vine Flowers are wonderful because of their evening fragrance.
Many tropical plants do well in the summer sun: Hibiscus, Banana and Mandevilla Vine.
Aloe veradoes great in full sun. It can be nice to see on any sunny place. And because aloe vera
Outdoor patios with partial shade can hold a variety of perennials and blooming shrubs.
Azaleas love part sun/part shade. So do many ground covers if you simply want to add various shades of green to an isolated spot.
Summer annualslike Begonias and Impatiens do well when mixed with Hostas and Ajuga.
One thing to remember: If your enclosed space is surrounded by a fence or a wall connected to your neighbor, you are in another “sub culture“ Your space’s temperatures will be different and most likely warmer or cooler than predicted weather.
What’s amazing about time and the seasons is that once the warmer weather begins, folks are more than ready to take advantage of it. Wearing flip flops and shorts, and enjoying MOJITOS and BBQs, people spend “chilaxin” time in their outdoor spaces.Speaking of mojitos, why not create your own herb garden for the mixologist or outdoor cook in the family. Mint can be added to many drinks. Rosemary, parsley, sage, and thyme are perfect on skewered vegetables with a little extra virgin olive oil or on chicken that needs a bit of “fresh” added.
Let us not forget vegetables! There is nothing like pulling off a tomato or a few peppers fresh off the plant to put in your salad. I don’t know about you, but when I have tended to my tomato plant or pepper plants for months and then pick one to taste, POW! It tastes better than anything I have ever bought in the grocery store. I personally think we need more urban farmers. (Do you know your farmer?) Check out Lancaster Farms! OLD CITY green is a host for their weekly CSA delivery of fresh organic vegetables and produce. www.lancasterfarmfresh.com Tell them OLD CITY green sent you!
Spring Begins with a Step
If you have never potted a plant or had the space outside to play in the dirt, don’t worry. It is simple to exercise your thumb to make it a green one. It may take a few mistakes and a few dead plants to get the flow, but it is easy if you talk to other gardeners and plant lovers.
OLD CITY green has a few of its own gardeners on staff that can answer your questions and givefeedback.
Stop in and see what kind of mood you want to create in your outdoor space this season.
Happy Plantingandremember: Think Local.
Owner and Founder ofOLD CITY green
Where people and plants come together.
9th and N Street NW
Fairies’ Crossing: A landscape and Gardening Co. Est. 2000
To Inspire your Dreamer!