In the spring, I promised to show pictures of our balcony after the work on the house was finished. So, to start with where I left, this was the sad state of the balcony in May:
…and then in August:
Since I moved in, the challenge of this balcony has been to create a place where I could enjoy a little bit of gardening and where my cats could enjoy a little bit of outdoors. In such limited space these two activities sometimes exclude one another, and so far we have come to this compromise.
For the cats’ safety, the balcony had to be secured with a net. It is unfortunate that I cannot easily get to the plants in boxes outside the net to tend to them better, to pick faded blossoms and prune them but this is one of the compromises that just had to be made.
I didn’t want to feel like a prisoner behind bars and this solution with an olive green net protecting the upper part of the balcony works quite nicely. As there are green trees in the view, visitors sometimes never even notice what they’re looking through. There is a “cat window” in the lower part of the balcony, and that is secured with a solid wire.
Recently I have come across the term “catio” and have admired the many ways people try to make sure their cats have as much fun as possible under given circumstances. Of course, the best thing for a cat would be to run free in a garden. The best thing for a gardener would be to have a garden. We urban dwellers have to make do with what life offers us. Actually, that’s one of the best things I have learned from cats: they always seem to be quite happy with just what they have at hand, as if knowing too well that it could always be worse.
Tadeášek is the embodiment of love. I got him from a shelter as a little kitten; he started to follow me everywhere and has never stopped since. He is the most vocal of them; quite unusually for a cat he can sing, ring, croak and bark, too.
Štěpánka is my first, and she is the smartest. Mind you, she can catch a bird through the net. She likes her personal space and is the only one that doesn’t sleep in bed but whenever I am down feeling sick, she comes to lie in my feet and heals me in her own feline way. A friend of mine found her in the street as a kitten. I never had a cat before; I actually wasn't sure that I liked cats.
Now on to the plants: The balcony has much shade, and so my favorites include hosta, ferns, coleus, heuchera and astilbe for the pots, and fuchsias and begonias for the boxes. The fuchsias and begonias overwinter inside the building in the hallway which has the right temperature but not enough light. This year they had to stay there much longer than usual because of the work being done on the balcony, and they never fully recovered from the abuse.
The space is limited but we all try to enjoy all that it has to offer, constantly rearranging the pots, plants and pebbles to suit our taste, some of us intentionally, others while chasing each other, but always delighted with the results.