A Beautiful Bargain Balcony

Learn how this British gardener makes the most of her urban balcony by utilizing hanging containers and shelving.


This tiny wedge-shaped balcony in north London, owned by busy TV producer Emily Dalton, is barely 1 x 3m (3 x 9ft) long, yet it is as charming as it is productive. Packed with beautiful and delicious plants, from fiery skinned trailing squashes hanging overhead and wigwams of tomatoes and nasturtiums to fruit trees, kale and salad leaves growing in containers on the ground, this balcony is full of inventiveness, using every inch of space.

Long planters of salad, strawberries and herbs hang outwards from the wooden railings, while more pots and troughs sit on the low retaining wall, filled with chillies, flowers and chard. A wooden platform above the railings is the perfect stand for a large plastic tubtrug, from which a “Red Kuri” squash erupts and trails over strings in parallel with the coloured string lights and bird feeder, all set among a Chinese New Year banner. Birds flit past a perfect-looking “Bitonto” tomato that fills a hanging basket on their way to the feeder.

The tiled floor is edged with larger pots of “Outdoor Girl” tomatoes that share their growing space with climbing nasturtiums, “Sultana” and “Blue Lake” climbing French beans, runner bean “Polestar” and a very productive dwarf half-standard cherry “Lapins” on “Gisela 5” rootstock. All of which sit on wooden wheeled stands so they can be moved around easily. The house wall above is covered in handsome, wide wooden shelves on which sit yet more pots.

Hanging baskets filled with “Cherry Falls” tomato, “Albion” and “Honeoye” strawberries, “Ruby Falls” raspberries and “Black Cascade” blackberries dangle from the shelves, their extendable cords making it easy to pull them down to harvesting level.

Every space is used. A tiny crevice between the fence and retaining wall is stuffed with a grow bag, opened at the top to make a miniature raised bed for clematis. An automatic watering system is a lifesaver and a telescopic waterer means Emily can easily reach the pots set on the shelves several metres above.

12/20/2019 7:41:15 PM

If you haven't tried it already maybe a shade cloth? And perhaps a small pool of water?

12/20/2019 9:48:21 AM

I would love to do something like this ,but in zone 8a my large back patio gets so hot that every thing cooks.Any suggestions?



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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