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DIY Humming Bird Garden

balcony before

Our balcony, February 2011.

balcony after

Our balcony last week.

The balcony is our favorite place in the apartment. It’s been Mike’s project entirely. I’d love to be able to take credit for it, but the most I’ve done is offered to make dinner so he could keep working out there. He built all of the planters, two of the window boxes, and all of the shelving out of materials he found around our neighborhood. For example, the wood for the planters came from discarded broken fencing. One of the window boxes is made from the frame of a torn up sofa left out on garbage day.

window crate

This window box was made from a packing crate.


I picked up this Jasmine at Costco for $8.00. It was tiny, dried out, and dying. Now it’s taking over the north end of our balcony. Mike keeps saying that when it blossoms in the spring we’re going to need respirators to sit on the balcony. It’s going to be incredibly beautiful.

view from the street

This is what our neighbors see. They call us the Crazy Flower People but we have the prettiest balcony on the block so I don’t care. I love how the arms of the jasmine are crawling along the side of the building. Mike tapped little nails into the siding so it would have something to hold on to. These will be full of flowers come April.

our view

The window boxes and hanging baskets are full of lantana, million bells, salvia, hawaiian blue eyes, dead nettle, and some flowers I don’t know the name of. They all draw humming birds and butterflies. We sit out here with our coffee in the early morning and watch the humming birds feed. They are surprisingly bold, often feeding from flowers inches from my shoulder. They’ll sip from flowers in the same basket Mike is watering, and the bird will hover, beak to nose. They’re magic with wings.

garden at sunset

Someday I’ll show you what’s behind that far wall. (Hint: it’s one word, starts with “ga” ends with “ge”.) The plants – New Guinea Impatiens – are sitting on shelves Mike built from lumber he found sticking out of a dumpster. I tried to take a close-up but it sucked. The flowers are too pretty for digital rendering.


Remember our first window box? That’s it in the back. The salvia is the only thing left from the original planting. After all the pansies and English daisies died, we planted begonias and let me tell you, they are be-going crazy! Begonia-ing crazy? Not funny?

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God Bless Suburbia

After dinner last night, right before we headed upstairs to get ready for bed, we realized we’d forgotten to run the errands we needed to run. We were supposed to pick up coffee, sugar, a GFCI electrical socket, and the required black pants/black shirt Mike needs for his new part-time job. (Yay for the part-time job!)

Luckily, it was only seven-thirty, so we tucked the dogs in for the night, grabbed sweaters to protect against the freezing sixty-degree weather, and hopped in the car.

Yes, we get ready for bed at seven-thirty. What can I say? We’re an old married couple.

By eight-thirty we were brushing our teeth and marveling at how we’d just run three hours worth of errands in one. It was because of the strip mall. And the trunk of the car.

You see, most people who live in suburbia take for granted their ability to run multiple errands in a short period of time. I know, because I used to be one of those people. And then I moved to New York and figured out how the rest of the world works. Or at least the part of the world situated in Manhattan.

If we were still living in Manhattan, we’d have had to make three separate stops, instead of the one we were able to make last night. First we’d have gone to K-Mart for black Dickies and a generic black button-up. It would have taken us thirty minutes to get there, plus a ten minute walk off the train, and it would’ve been a miserable experience because that K-Mart was never fully stocked and it was always so full of people there ought to be signs out front warning shoppers not to enter if they fear large crowds. Next we’d spend another twenty minutes on the subway, another fifteen minutes walking, and then we’d be at Home Depot, also terribly crowded, with checkout lines thirty people deep. Fifteen more minutes walking and an hour on the subway before we got to our neighborhood market, all while carrying everything we’d purchased elsewhere. By the time we finally got home we’d have spent at least three hours, probably four, and we’d be exhausted, sweaty, and praying for an early death.

Instead we hopped in a car, drove to a strip mall, purchased everything we needed at a Target and a Home Depot sitting back-to-back, and were home in sixty minutes. Yes, it’s a little freaky that we can buy groceries and clothing in one location, I’ll be honest. Target’s new grocery section makes me feel a little bit dirty, I don’t know why, but still. I do not miss the city at all.

P.S. There’s a wiener in the lantana.

wiener in the lantana