How to: declutter your balcony07 August 2019 Linda Ross
As obsessive plant collectors we can’t help bringing home interesting plants from friends and fellow plant-lovers.
Our enthusiasm had resulted in an unlovely clutter of pots. Something had to be done. Here are our tips for turning Plant Lovers’ Clutter into a pleasing display.
To make a balcony feel like a garden it needs to surround you with plants. Somehow you have to get some plants up at eye level, and even above it. A pragmatic approach is to arrange smaller pots at different levels. You need to get those pots up off the ground to really appreciate your balcony garden. Here are some great ideas:
While the lacy wrought-iron stands of Edwardian times are highly collectible, there are modern versions of the plant stand that are easier to come by. A good plant stand will offer different tiers so that all plants displayed receive adequate light. Book-shelf style stands can be placed against a wall or the edge of the balcony, or used to delineate space across the balcony. Think about placing the stand so that it is seen to best advantage from inside the house. Curve-fronted corner stands can turn a dim corner into a feature and ladders too make useful stands to show off plants at eye level.
Build it! Plant shelving. Photo - Fotimageon/shutterstock.com
Keep an eye out on council clean-up days for timber, metal or plastic stools that could work as a stand for an individual pot. Look for different heights and pot up a mixed arrangement that includes soft draping plants that hang over both pot and support.
Suspend pots where you can to create a curtain of foliage. If possible, attach reo to the ceiling of your balcony or verandah so that you can hang pots wherever you like, rather than only where beams give support. (See more ideas for ceiling hangs on page 38.) Plants to hang in shaded spots include the rhipsalis family and devil's ivy, while vibrant begonias shine in the sun or part shade. Pots that fit over the balcony railing and offer planting spaces on both the inside and outside of the railing need clever planting. The small planting zone requires either conscientious watering and feeding, or plants that look after themselves. For the former, try Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ or a bright petunia, and for the latter, go bromeliads.
Linda loves hanging potted plants from every available position. Photo - Luisa Brimble
Where there is room for a table on the balcony, style it with an ever-changing still life centrepiece that includes a seasonally starring plant in a favourite pot, with perhaps a candle or hurricane lamp, and a small sculpture.
Photo - Rachel Whiting
Getting pots up off the ground and grouped onto shelves is a simple way to reduce the clutter and to bring tiers of interesting plants to eye level. Timber shelves, metal shelves or wall shelves are all options. Handy-people might like to build their own; we turned to Ebay where we found this terrific vintage baker’s shelf. Check Gumtree and Ebay or go old school and hunt up outdoor shelving options at local garage sales, or through the local paper.
Photo - Karen Kaspar/Shutterstock.com
While little flowering plants look fabulous displayed on shelves, our fascination is for the quirky - some might say ‘ugly ducklings’ - of the botanical world. Plants like bromeliads, rhipsalis, tillandsia and succulents with great foliage that drips, twists, spikes and waves. Most of these plants grow happily in free-draining gravelly mix, while the bromeliads are happy in cheap pine bark. To style your shelves place plants with opposing colours, textures and habits next to each other to provide contrast and plenty of visual interest.
A vintage baker’s shelf gets plants off the floor and up to eye-level. Photo - Luisa Brimble