Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening on a Balcony

Small spaces can still have great gardens

Today we’re visiting with Cynthia Strickland. We visited her former garden in St. Louis before, but today she’s showing us her current gardening setup on her balcony in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a good reminder that even the smallest of spaces can be made into a garden filled with beautiful plants:

Today I am sharing plants that live on a second-floor balcony, with either a few hours of searing western exposure or mostly dappled shade. These photographs were taken in the past year. My balcony garden goals were to keep the containers lightweight, appreciate each species, and to enjoy creating different combinations of plants while keeping in mind some staging principles

Coneflower Sombrero Hot CoralSombrero Hot Coral coneflower (Echinacea hybrid, Zones 4–9) and hardy plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Zones 5–9)

balcony gardenA wide view of the patio shows inviting chairs, Hosta Guacamole’ (Zones 3–8), and pink begonia (unknown variety). On the table is the hardy plumbago and Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Blue Moon Punch’ (annual).

Calibrachoa Superbells Blue Moon PunchAllium Pinball Wizard’ (Zones 4–8), ‘Dwarf Sunspot’ sunflower (Helianthus annuus, ‘Dwarf Sunspot’, annual), and Calibrachoa Superbells Blue Moon Punch’

dwarf sunspot sunflowerClose-up of the dwarf sunspot sunflower blooming in June

dwarf delphiniumA dwarf delphinium (Delphinium ‘Magic Fountain Mix’, Zones 3–7) growing in May

delphiniumClose-up of the blue flowers of the same delphinium blooming in June

Astilbe Bridal VeilAiry white flowers of Astilbe ‘Bridal Veil’ (Zones 4–8) in May

red petuniaA red petunia (unknown variety, annual), Hosta ‘Guacamole’ (labeled as such although one of the plants isn’t showing the usual variegation), and Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’ (Zones 3–9).

small container gardenBlooming mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium, Zones 7–9), ‘Frizzle Sizzle Lemonberry’ pansy (Viola × wittrockiana, cool season annual), and Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’ (Zones 6–9), in September

Blue Pacific Shore JuniperA ‘Blue Pacific’ shore juniper tumbles gracefully out of its pot.


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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 10/12/2020

    I like to think of myself as a creative gardener, but it never would have occurred to me to put an astilbe in a pot. It's so ethereal. I love it. It's only Oct. and I can hardly wait to try it. Thanks so much for the idea.

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Hello again, Rebecca. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It's great we can share our ideas here! I had never tried astilbe before, and I did enjoy those tiny white flowers on long stems.

  2. katherine_8 10/12/2020

    I love your balcony garden, Cynthia!! Great use of a wide variety of plants, colours, textures, and presentation of pots. It looks like you have a nice view as well, a lovely place to sit, read, have a meal/beverage, or just relax. Great job, Cynthia!! Enjoy :)

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Thank you, Katherine!
      The view is fabulous - sold us on the place. Water birds like herons and kingfishers visit the lake, too.
      Gardening is an enjoyable hobby - art & science.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/12/2020

    Love how that juniper in the container looks.

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment on the juniper, Treasures.
      I had been wanting some kind of shrub and to be able to practice some pruning. I found this one on the sale rack at a big box store. It was in excellent condition for this purpose. Then bought the taller slimmer container so a few limbs could drape. I decided not to go into heavy-duty bonsai - so did not do any wiring of limbs. A rock is propping up the central stem so maybe I will get a graceful curve.

  4. coastalgardener 10/12/2020

    What a wonderful variety of colors and textures. You've certainly made the most of your limited space. Great job, Cynthia!

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Thank you, Coastalgardener!
      I have only had two visitors in the past several months so I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Sunshine111 10/12/2020

    So creative! I love how you have created vignettes with different potted perennials. I would not have thought of that. Impressive and lovely!

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      I appreciate your comments, Dvngardener. It is fun for me to select and compose groupings.
      For some reason I don't like mixing more than one kind of plant in a container (thriller, spiller, filler).
      This year I am still testing what will do well at this site, with what soil, and in plastic. (Plastic is pretty horrible, but easier to move around.)

  6. dragonfly5 10/12/2020

    Wonderful selection of texture & color. Creative and calming space. Well done!

  7. User avater
    simplesue 10/12/2020

    Just gorgeous! Love what you've done with your balcony garden! and those Super Bells are amazing!

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Hi, Sue - those Super Bells were so worth it! They produced so many flowers. At times, with a little breeze they were like bobbleheads and bounced gently and pleasantly. Glad I bought multiples.

      I hope you will put together some more of your favorite photos of your garden for Photo of the Day.

      (I am still not on instagram or twitter, but it seems like so many people who post here are.)

      1. User avater
        simplesue 10/13/2020

        Cynthia2020 You have me sold on the Super Bells with that description! You ought to give Pinterest and Twitter a try, great places for garden files and inspiration.
        My current garden is just not ready for Fine Gardneings GPOD...maybe in about 5 more years I'm hoping

        1. cynthia2020 10/13/2020

          Thank you for the reply, Sue. I understand about not being ready for revealing something.

  8. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

    Dragonfly - thank you for your positive feedback! Also, it was great to see your lovely garden last Friday in Garden Photo of the Day!

  9. carolineyoungwilliams 10/12/2020

    Cynthia, you have done an amazing job. You have definitely proven where there's a will, there's a way...and you will definitely be an inspiration to other gardeners. I love your choice of plants and their rich, bold colors. I especially love the coneflower and the Blue Moon Punch Superbells. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful space.

    1. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

      Caroline - thank you for your kind words. I am glad you could enjoy some of what I enjoy!

  10. btucker9675 10/12/2020

    Fabulous balcony garden- I am totally stealing the juniper in a tall pot idea, just so you know! Love the closeup of the sunflower just glowing in the light.

  11. cynthia2020 10/12/2020

    BT - thank you for your flattering remarks!

  12. bdowen 10/13/2020

    Beautiful photography! An encouraging collection of photos for anyone leaving their in-the-ground garden for balcony pots. Thank you for sharing.

  13. cynthia2020 10/13/2020

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, BDOwen.
    And you are welcome!

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