Porch 4.0

One of the biggest draws of renting this apartment is the outdoor patio space located directly outside my window facing the back parking lot of the building. It may not be the prettiest view, but having a small outdoor space all to my self makes my rental feel bigger in the warmer months, almost as if the patio acts like an extra room to eat or simply chill.

I’ve had the chance to dip my toes into gardening before and really enjoyed it (maybe even almost as much as baking, although I wouldn’t go that far!). So when I moved here four summers ago I decided not to let the jungle of concrete deter me from having an enjoyable outdoor space. Over the years, my patio has slowly evolved growing into a makeshift garden space that’s perfect for sipping my morning coffee and getting lost in a book.

I started out pretty low-key when I first moved in the spring of 2013. I’m guessing my priorities veered more towards buying furniture than starting a garden from scratch. My dad very kindly bought me the hanging baskets as a housewarming gift.

KBB_porch_2013The next year I was craving a little bit more privacy, so with a few extra dollars in my budget I decided to add a few more decorative items and plants to make my porch feel like it was just an extension of my apartment. So in 2014 it looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_1With my dog, Gemma, keeping watch outside my evenings when the light was still out often looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_2I still miss all of those chalk hearts that I drew all over the concrete ground. At the time I was think it was meant to be symbolic of a safe, loving space but looking back on them now, they were still tons of fun. Unfortunately I discovered that chalk art and dogs don’t really mix. I’d often come back inside to find Gemma covered in rainbow stripes.

Despite the addition of my herb garden, I still hadn’t quite satisfied my green thumb. Some new garden-crazy neighbors moved in upstairs in 2015 and the clippings from their plants transformed my porch into a green oasis. (The new green deck chairs helped.)

KBB_porch_2015Friends and neighbors started dropping off unwanted plants, or plants that needed rescuing and I was more than happy to welcome them into my brood. Unfortunately, a lot of these family members were only seasonal so I find myself back at square one for this upcoming spring.

The nights are still chilly and some mornings I wake to find frost still lingering on the ground, but I’ve already started scheming and dreaming. (Here’s how I do some of my garden research here.) Seeds are starting to sprout in their containers lounging on my windowsill. Already, I’m squirreling away extra cash to fund some of the projects I have planned. This year I’m hoping to find a balance between greenery and recreational space so I can make the most of my porch while I’m able.

When the beautiful weather hits, I know I’m going to be more than ready.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’d love to hear more about your upcoming plans for spring and your outdoor spaces, or maybe you have a suggestion for mine! Comment below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

If you want to see a little bit more about how I’ve organized my own personal spaces you can check out how I styled my bookshelf here, the story of how I purged everything in my apartment here, how I organized my closet here and some of the things I just can’t figure out how to organize here.

A Secret Garden of Reading

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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.

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I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: 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.