What's Growing in my City Garden

May 27, 06:51 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

As a city dweller in a high density area, I long for a bit of nature in my life, even though my entire yard consists of a small slab of concrete. Still, I've managed to cultivate a garden of edibles and aromatics through use of appropriate size containers, careful selection of plants and judicious watering. I'm convinced that anyone with a balcony, patio or urban porch can do the same. Even the tiniest garden can be a joy to the senses.

I've found that one of the keys to successful container gardening is using large containers. Anything under 12" diameter will dry out too quickly in the summer heat. If it's too difficult space-wise to compost, amend the soil frequently with an organic fertilizer such as fish meal.

Experiment to see what grows best in your area. After 3 years of battling aphids and mold, I finally gave up on my beloved Rosa centifolia. Although it bloomed faithfully every spring, it was not well suited for container gardening. Many smaller roses could have fit the bill, but I chose to skip over them because, unlike centifolia, they were not true aromatic varieties and didn't fit the theme of my garden.

To keep things visually cohesive, pick a theme for your plantings. I chose a combination of edible plants and those known for producing essential oils. Additionally, everything bears white or purple flowers, and many of the plants have purple leaves or stems. For visual interest, all plants are potted in terra cotta containers of varying sizes and shapes.

Best of all, green thumbs are not required. With just a little regular maintenance, anyone can enjoy a small kitchen garden in a minimal amount of outdoor space.

Here's what's growing in my garden:

basil, sweet and genovese varieties
bay laurel
chard, rainbow and red
chives, onion and garlic varieties
society garlic
hyacinth bean vine
jasmine sambac
rosemary, Provence and Arp varieties
red Japanese maple (my lone concession to ikebana and breaking with the theme)
orange mint
sweet myrtle
oregano, Greek
parsley, curly and Italian
passionflower vine
sweet potato vine, purple
thyme, lemon and lemon variegated


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