Between Balcony and the Garden

I live in an apartment, forty minutes away from the garden that I call my own.  Though I have a wonderful balcony filled to the brim with rare and unusual plants, the main attraction and the place that supplies me with endless photos of gingers and palms, is at my parent's place and is visited only once a week.

 I am gardener without a garden in once sense, but in another way I'm blessed with not one but TWO beautiful gardens!

I'm such a horrible son.  Every time I visit my parents I breeze right past them, and run through the sliding glass door to the garden, where I'll often spend hours admiring the plants and just enjoying the chance to simply be in the garden.  Sure, the actual gardening and photography takes some time, but usually I just wander aimlessly just like the butterflies I follow around between passionflowers.  I suppose that's why I was never any good at sports.  I was to busy chasing butterflies and peering up close at the bugs and flowers to even notice a 'pop fly'... that IS a baseball phrase, right?  See, sports never caught on very well with me.

My mother always notices how my mood instantly improves when I'm in the garden, and how everything in life changes from an annoyance to a fantastic miracle, how birds alighting in front of my face and treefrogs clinging to my arm transform my demeanor to the simple fascination of a child who's never let life disappoint him.

Do any of you actually get on your hands and knees, or even your stomach, just so you can better appreciate the supremely engineered form of a leaf, or just to better see the framework of a tree's branches?  How about just for the simple pleasure of being closer to the earth?  Its okay, you don't have to admit it if you do these crazy things, but I do.

There are many downsides to not living where you're garden is planted, and the greatest letdowns strike when you're too late to save your plants from a preventable death.  You arrive to see that bromeliads have rotted, banana seedlings perished from drought, or quite possibly that time when a dog uprooted my Japanese maple seedling.  That was pretty depressing.

Then again, when I return to the garden after a summer shower, everything seems to have multiplied triple-fold.  Ginger shoots spring upwards like rockets, and the perennials proliferate like weeds if I happened to be absent from an all too rare storm or shower.  Even the weeds are pulled up with enthusiasm and the fascination with the fact that life is so persistent.

My balcony has the same effect on me too, but I get to see it every day so the sliding glass doors aren't slammed open with the same force.  That's a good thing, because I don't think the property manager would like that one bit.  No-siree.  I still run to my balcony every morning as if every day was Christmas, and each slowly developing orchid bloom or seedling pushing through the soil was God's greatest gift to me.  When I see roots developing on a cutting, I look so closely that my eyes might cross, just so I can see an everyday miracle in more detail.

The beauty of the balcony is that I can grow plants from seed and propagate by cuttings, taking care of the tiny plants on a daily basis until they're big enough to share with someone or plant it the garden proper.  I love to start fruit from seeds and as many of you know, I especially get a thrill out of germinating and planting sea beans.

I suppose the best part of my balcony is the creative process of making a fully functional outdoor room complete with a table, chairs, wall art, centerpieces and even shelves with tools and collections.  I get to treat the balcony like an extension of the apartment, and use houseplants indoors to fuse the living room and the balcony into one continuous living space.  Its an affordable apartment, but using plants to create a strong design makes it seem like a New York loft, or something out of Dwell magazine.

Between the balcony and the garden I have not one garden, but two.  Just like the extravagantly wealthy, I have a distant retreat and a tropical getaway where the people treat me like family while I lounge away in the garden on my belly, looking for bugs.  That is what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Thanks mom, dad, and Shannon!

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  1. Extravagantly wealthy indeed, for you have found your passion.

  2. Great post about what brings you joy. Love the shot of the lantern in your tropical get-away and the balcony shot with the leaning shelves, vertical wall art and all those cute tilandsia, broms and orchids. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. What a great, happy, thankful post. I really enjoyed it and feel inspired. It's not quite light enough to get out and see what's happening in my own gardens yet, but I did notice when I stuck my head out the door that it looks like we might get some much needed rain. I sure hope so.

    I love your balcony garden and your other garden too. It just goes to show what can be accomplished when a love of something has a hold of us.

    Enjoy both of your gardens and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


  4. Yep, we're one of those who go down on hands and knees (and stomach!) to admire a plant, fascinating and beautiful things! With luck even have a camera at hand too :)

    I like the lamps at your parent's garden btw.

  5. That is so wonderful! You are a lucky person and sounds like me! Beautiful gardens make me very relaxed also. I like to get on my hands and knees and explore also!


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