Planting the balcony…

One of the main reasons we wanted to buy 2ndhandhouse was because of all the lovely outside space. We have a terrace off the kitchen that has been covered over by the previous owner and is perfect for storing our bikes, our barbecue, our DIY equipment and my kitchen herbs. I am hoping it will have a mini greenhouse effect too so I can maybe grow some tomatoes (btw it has proved quite successful at growing pea shoots, more on that later).

The small balcony at the front gets all the afternoon sun so is perfect for an after work G&T listening to the grunting of the tennis players on the municipal courts next door.

And there’s more, we also have a terrace off the lounge that is accessible by a huge sliding door. This one gets all the morning sun and so is perfect for pottering around with a Sunday morning coffee having a poke at the flowers and watching the kids running backwards and forwards from the park next door. The wall of the terrace is half height and contains a planter section. This is such an unusual feature, I doubt that you would see a new build, which has made space for growing plants. Now, the previous owner had thrown in a couple of chive plants in the pot but they were looking worse for wear and had been allowed to flower (apparently you shouldn’t do this if you are planning on eating them-any one have any thoughts on this?). They were also fighting for a place amongst some admirably staunch cow parsley.

So I decided to replant the planter. At first I had my heart set on something like this…

You can purchase this beautiful example from here.

I loved the idea of a chic little neat hedge, with the bright green contrasting with the white painted wall making me think that I was somewhere in the med.

But then The Boy pointed out that it might make the wall appear too high. This is true and if I am honest, I work 10 hour days…when was I going to find the time to trim the thing? Who did I think I was? A Stepford Wife?! So I was back to the drawing board…

I was sitting outside a Cafe Brera in the sun waiting for The Boy a few weeks ago, a theme which will no doubt recur during my blog (turns out that he had ripped his designer denim shorts that had been specifically designed for cycling…whilst getting on his bike). A lady walked past and ran her hands through what she thought was a rosemary bush. Brera had neatly planted up white planters with rosemary and positioned them around the outside terrace area. However, the woman recoiled as she found out, disappointingly, that they were plastic! This tableau came to me as The Boy was doing his best to shoot down my ideas without offering any alternative.

So a plan was formulated to plant Rosemary which would waft a lovely smell into the lounge and we could use for cooking. I also wanted to keep the chives so, to tie in the grey-green of the rosemary and the purple of the chives, I planned to plant Lavender too (after allaying The Boys fears about bees…we need bees I told him, bees are good).

My big sister and her hubby came to stay (queue a panic to fix up the spare room!) to see the new house and give us an excuse to have time away from DIY. We took them to Columbia Road Flower Market. I adore this market! If I could get myself out of bed every Sunday morning I would go every week! Just to look! Although it is very difficult not to buy too.

I cannot believe that I forgot to take my camera, it is such a beautiful market and not only that, it is proper London market, with proper salt-of-the-earth London stall holders guv’nor. Everything is so well priced and so pretty.  It is really hard to focus and not buy everything!

But The Boy helped me lock down on what I really wanted and even suggested buying a few pretty little Thyme plants with purple flowers. They fit in perfectly because of the colour and add an extra level to the planter as they are quite low lying compared to the rosemary and the lavender. And Voila…here is the finished planter…

Obviously, it needs to fill out a little...

Before I finish up, what has become a ridiculously long looking post I have to tell you about where we went for lunch on the way home! It is called Leila’s Shop. I can’t find a website for it but there is a stunning write up of it on this blog. I have read a few reviews of the place and I have to agree that the staff could be a little more friendly and a little less condescending but the food more than makes up for it. It is all very simple; sandwiches, soups and salads but the produce is really tasty. We had a dressed green salad that I have literally been dreaming about ever since and I am going to try to recreate (stay posted).

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