Whoops - how to lose friends and alienate people. I didn't mean to, honest, but some of you obviously thought that my last post was intended as a rant. It really wasn't and I've tried to explain why in the comments, but I'm sorry if I offended anyone. For the record, I have absolutely nothing against the people who created those balconies or against anyone who has the same attitude to balcony gardening. They're wonderful, and certainly contribute more to making the community attractive than mine does.
But as an attempt to redeem myself, I thought I'd talk about how I do try and create visual impact with containers, while at the same time growing as wide a variety of plants as possible. All my containers are different, but within each container I try and achieve an effect either by combining different colours and/or different forms.
Here's an example from a couple of years back. Very simple - marigolds and yellow surfinias -but it worked wonderfully. The stark browney-gold of the marigolds both contrasted with and complemented the lemony yellow of the surfinias, as did the different forms of both the flowers and the leaves. And they're both set off by the little white daisies peeking out from behind.
I love purple and have a lot of it on my balcony. In this photo from last year, purple and white surfinia mix with pink antirrhinums and blue plumbago (all grown from seed except the plumbago) - again creating harmony and contrast of colour and form.
So my balcony's a hotch potch. I also admit that I usually plant thinking of the view from inside rather than below. And these photos range over three years and were, admittedly, taken when things were looking good. They hide the tatty failures. But I still think they stand up to the ones in the last post, stupendous as they were. And I promise you they're more fun to grow.