Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening on a Balcony

Season-long interest in containers

bright orange Canna flowers

Today we’re visiting with Cynthia Strickland. We visited her former garden in St. Louis (Gardening in St. Louis), but today she’s showing us her current gardening setup on a 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.

white gardenia flowerMy first challenge was gardenias. I planted two Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ (Zones 7–11) evergreen shrubs in autumn of 2020. The plants survived the mild winter in plastic pots in a sheltered area. The flowers bloomed in May and June! I adored the flower form, scent, and the glossy green leaves, so it was worth a try in the less-than-ideal conditions.

shrub with white flowers next to foliage plantsIn this second photo you can see one of the evergreen gardenia shrubs next to a pot of Heuchera sanguinea ‘Bressingham’ (Zones 3–8) and some potted Ajuga (unknown variety). Sadly, by July both gardenias dropped all their leaves and died. Gardenias were one of the main flowers in my wedding ceremony, so it was nice to experiment with the plants. The flowers and scent brought back happy memories.

several foliage plants in separate terracotta pots Here you can see an early spring photo of the two gardenia shrubs arranged with the larger-leaved Hosta ‘Guacamole’ (Zones 3–8) and the small Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (Zones 3–8).

large white flower in front of small orange flowersCosmos sulphureus ‘Cosmic Orange’ (annual) with gardenia.

Lagurus ovatus close upMy second trial was Lagurus ovatus (annual), an ornamental grass native to the Mediterranean with a common name of bunny tails. I grew quite a few seedlings indoors with a heating mat and grow light. Several small, compact mounds of soft foliage endured the spider mites (I tried homemade insecticidal soap and neem oil spray). Without full sun, I managed to enjoy one soft and fluffy bunny tail panicle in August!

balcony full of plants in terracotta potsIn this wide view of the summer balcony, you can see two small containers of the bunny tails grass.

plant with pale yellow flowers in a hanging basketThe third new plant for me last year was Thunbergia alata ‘Blushing Susie’ (Zones 10–11 or as an annual). I started seeds indoors and hoped to have three hanging baskets of vines with pink flowers. One white basket produced flowers for a few weeks in June. However, the white containers were cooked with heat. Rotating them proved to be too much work for not enough enjoyment. A few of the most vigorous vines were transplanted into the ground and flowered sparsely until frost.

small yellow flowerCloser view of a Thunbergia alata ‘Blushing Susie’ flower

bright orange Canna flowersBy late summer I still had several pots of dark green foliage (my favorite) but needed more flowers, so I filled in with three pots of Canna × generalis ‘Bronze Orange’ (Zones 7–11 or as an annual), which was also new to me.

canna in bloom on the balconyThe canna plants took turns blooming until frost. One of the three canna is currently enjoying life as a houseplant.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    simplesue 03/09/2022

    Wow your Balcony Garden is fabulous!
    Such healthy plants and what a cozy place to enjoy!
    I love your Thunbergia alata ‘Blushing Susie’ , what a beautiful plant!

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 03/09/2022

      Hi, Sue. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  2. btucker9675 03/09/2022

    Love the bunny tails!

  3. User avater
    cynthia2020 03/09/2022

    Hi, BT. I was hoping for more tails to love... Am moving to Chicago soon. The next grass I try will probably be prairie dropseed - Sporobolus heterolepis.

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