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Small City Gardens

BY RACHEL STREET (www.rachelstreet.searchphillylistings.com)
 
space-and-company-gardening1This time of year is my favorite — waking up to a sun-filled room, longer days, short sleeves, but most of all… plants! Every year I get excited about planning my garden, seeing the first buds appear on my roses, and putting up my window boxes. Living in the city doesn’t mean that you can’t have a vibrant garden- even if you don’t have a lot of space, there are many of varieties of climbing plants to make your garden into a vertical one.
 
The backyard at my last house was actually just a deck- this was a feature that a lot of people loved, but I was disappointed that I didn’t have any dirt for a garden. After staining the weathered deck and putting up a fence at the rear, I ended up building two large planters that were two feet wide by about eight feet long out of pressure-treated wood to create a space for plants. Pressure-treated wood can have chemicals in it so I wouldn’t recommend using it to build a planter in which you plan to grow food, but it works well for flowers and withstands the elements. One of the things to keep in mind when building a planter is that the soil expands and contracts depending on the moisture and temperature, so you want to try to make it as sturdy as possible and also drill some holes to allow the excess water to drain. Then I built a large trellis out of thin strips of wood and I painted everything white so that the garden would feel bigger. To keep the soil from washing through the cracks between the boards, I first lined each planter with landscaping fabric. After an obscene amount of soil (seriously, I think I bought out Home Depot!), I was ready to plant my flowers. This is what it looked like when I bought it and after building the fence and planters:
 
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I started by planting the climbing flowers in the back. I put in two honeysuckle plants, two light pink climbing roses and several different colors of clematis, which produce pink, purple, blue, and pink and white striped flowers. Clematis likes to have shade on the roots, so I planted some bright pink rose bushes in front of it, as well as some annuals like petunias and sweet potato vine. Since I ended up buying more flowers than would fit in the garden, I also hung some aluminum hanging planters from Ikea on the front of the large planters that I built. Here is the finished product after a few months of growth:
 
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Somebody else was also a big fan of the garden….
 
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I drove out to Lancaster to buy most of the plants since they are generally cheaper and there is a greater variety, but there are also a surprising amount of options at Home Depot and Lowes. Another good place to get flowers is Urban Jungle in East Passyunk, which is also a great place to order custom window boxes.
Looking for a home with space to garden? Send me an email at [email protected] or click here to view available properties in Philadelphia.

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