Porch 5.0

Time flies pretty fast. One day you’re moving into your new apartment, and the next thing you know it’s been five years and you’re still in the same apartment!

Ok, so for some people this doesn’t seem like much cause for celebration but when you’ve moved as often as I have in the past fifteen years or so, staying in one place for five years feels like a real accomplishment.

One of my favorite things about where I live is my little patch of green in the city, my porch. It’s my number-one hangout from May-September (weather-permitting) and is the best place to read, write, draw, drink coffee or eating a meal. (Food has this way of tasting better in fresh air, doesn’t it?)

Even before I start getting my outdoors ready for spring, I started planning ahead of time the kind of plantings I want to do, and I go over last year’s notes to remind myself which plants were winners and which ones not to invest in again.

I get lots of inspiration, too, from browsing gardening books, and snooping other people’s gardens on Pinterest. I’ve got a couple of green-thumbed friends on Instagram that I like to steal ideas from as well.

Space, time and financial constraints mean that sometimes my plans aren’t always that elaborate, but I’m always trying to find a way to make things cozy. Thoughtful lighting, seating, plus special handmade gifts from artistic friends always seem to make an environment more inviting.

Here are some highlights from last year’s porch:

One of the many joys of last year’s garden was the amount of herbs that I was able to grow, and I’m excited to try more varieties this year, and start them earlier so they have more time to become healthy and strong. A lot of my planters need to be replaced after a damp, rainy winter so I’m excited to see how the landscape will change with some new additions.

The garden bug has spread to some of the other porches and balconies in my building, and we’ve already been in talks about making a more coordinated effort this year. After all, it is Canada’s bicentennial, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to do something special.

I may just have to break out a flag or two.

KBwB-BFlower-50How did your green space turn out last year? What did you learn? What are you looking forward to in your garden this season? Comment below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. And send your pics please!

If you’re looking for more outdoor and household projects, click here to see what I get up to around my home. I’m also usually on Pinterest hunting around for great decor ideas, both inside and out.

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A Secret Garden of Reading

KBB_secret_garden_of_reading

I love flowers. Duh.

I risked showing you my bad phone photography to prove how much I loved flowers in this post here. Flowers come up a lot in my baking too (the arrangement in exhibit A, the decoration in exhibit B, the wrappers in exhibit C and the cake stand in exhibit D). Even my logo is a flower.

Obviously, there is something missing in my life.

I don’t have a garden. Instead, I have a little patio just outside my apartment window that faces out onto our building’s back parking lot. It’s not much but each year I try to compensate by filling my outdoor space with plants and flowers. My apartment is filled with them too. It’s such a sweet and pretty space and I find tending it very fulfilling.

And yet…

When the weather starts to feel more spring-like, you’ll often find me drifting aimlessly around in the bookstore until I wind up in the gardening section. Maybe you’ve seen me there. I’m the one ogling the books about floral arrangements like they’re dirty magazines. It’s not that I’m not happy with my little garden. I just sometimes like looking at the other gardens and wondering what could be. That’s not cheating on my patio, right?

Over the weekend I treated myself to a latté and a little wander around my local bookstore to see if I could dig up a little inspiration as to how to style my porch this year. (Haha. See what I did there?) Here are some of my favorites:

For those who are clueless about flowers but love having them in their home, The Flower Chef offers simple step-by-step “recipes” on how to imitate eye-catching floral arrangements with attention to color, shape and time of year. Even if your home isn’t full of flowers, it’s kind of like flowering porn for the gardening set.

For the ecologically-concerned gardener (or in my case, person), The Bee-Friendly Garden is part-design book, part-biology and altogether a compelling (and beautifully photographed) argument for why bees are an such an important thread in the delicate fabric of our ecosystem.

For those who want to drool over impossibly gorgeous gardens that you’ll never have in your lifetime, Secret Gardens is worth a flip-through. I needed to physically remove myself from the store before I marched up to the cashier with the three remaining copies.

For the gardener who’s also kinda crafty and talented at all the things, you’ll want to add The Crafted Garden to your collection. This is not a book about crafts from your garden: this is a book about crafts from your garden and how you too can create beautiful vases, wreaths and other decorations from the home using bark, twigs, and other plant materials. Sounds like garden sorcery to me.

For the gardener who hails from Toronto, you may remember Frankie Flowers from the news from many, many years ago, but since then he’s also published several gardening books. I like Pot It Up one because it offers gardening advice based to my particular climate zone, but there’s tons of other great practical tips for the makeshift gardeners like me that rely on planters, pots and hanging baskets to create a little green vista in the big city.

For those who want to get in touch with their inner hippie, A Wilder Life is your modern guide. There’s literally something for everyone in here, whether you’re looking for new skills like star-gazing, or if you feel like making your own natural beauty products. Oh, and there’s lots and lots of plants for you to gaze at adoringly as well.

My dreams of having a giant garden in which I can frolic may still be a long way off, but in the meantime, a girl can read. And dream. And drool. Really soon, I hope to be doing just that outside one on my patio chairs. The reading and dreaming part, I mean. Definitely not the drooling.

KBwB-BFlower-50I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!