Even if I say it myself, the balcony is starting to look good. I worked hard last weekend pulling out the last of the spring plants - a sad goodbye to my little pansies - and rearranging the containers to emphasise the things which are now at their best. One of the few advantages of balcony gardening is that a lot of the the plants are mobile. Whatever is looking most glorious can always be bang outside your living room window.
Several things, like the pelargoniums and petunias, have been blooming for a while, and whether they were old plants, new cuttings, or bought this year have settled well and doubled in size. Some of the perennials, like the plumbago and the hollyhocks, aren't yet in bloom, but are growing strongly and their foliage is giving the balcony a lush, "full" look. And in a month or so they're going to be great. The hollyhocks particularly are towering over everything else and are full of buds. And lot of the bulbs, corms and tubers which I put in for the first time are now coming through well. This year's experiment are the dahlias, which because of their size had to go into the "container from hell" - a large container in a particularly shady, but extremely hot spot on the back balcony where very little survives. And yet they're doing wonderfully, and are now coming into flower. Probably because the hot weather hasn't hit yet. They're tall enough to find the light, but aren't yet suffering from heat exhaustion. We'll see what happens later.
One of my favourite plants is the lychnis which you can just see peeking through the hollyhocks in the picture above. I had several, but the majority, which were in a different pot, suddenly wilted. I suspect they didn't need quite as much water as the other plant which was in there.
Lack of some decent weather has held back the growth of the annuals which I sowed in March and April - the only disappointment so far this year. Yet again this week we've had torrential rain and temperatures well below usual. As I write there's thunder rumbling around, and this morning the bus even had the heating turned on. Things like the marigolds, which would usually be putting out buds by now, are still in their seed pots while the more delicate seedlings - like the surfinia - are still tiny.
The rain has also knocked down the antirrhinums and made the ivy leaved pelargoniums look a bit straggly, but there are plenty more buds coming through.
I don't like very hot weather, so I'm not desperate for the summer to arrive. But a bit of spring would have been nice ...