After reading your comments and talking to a nice lady at Jayson here in Chicago, I have scaled back some of my more ambitious gardening plans. I had had hopes of a little Japanese maple tree, but it sound like it would be a real challenge to over-winter it, and we'd need to eat up a massive amount of the deck space with its planter bed. So no tree for us. Ah well.
We've put in herbs on the west juliet balconies: Thai basil, spicy globe basil, minette basil, rosemary, lemon mint, Greek oregano, variegated sage, flat-leaf parsley, and this incredible spicy-sweet arugula. I potted half of them last night and then utterly crashed, more exhausted than I'd realized, at around 8 p.m. I woke up at 5 this morning and came down to find that Kevin had finished potting the rest, sweet boy. I'll show you photos once I find my digital camera. It's in a box somewhere.
For the rest of the main floor terraces, I'm not sure what we're doing yet. The window boxes we bought were kind of expensive; I'm not sure if we want to buy more right now. If we do, I'll probably fill them with lobelia and alyssum. I've got some white-flowered cascading baskets hanging there now, so you can imagine the main floor with a white/blue/green theme on the terraces. I also have a few white-flowering columbines, still in their plastic containers; I'm not sure whether to get a long, low planter or a big round pot for those. Thoughts? They're flowering nicely, but their leaves are going yellowy-brown. Any idea what that means? Too much heat? Not enough water? Too much water? Desperately needs to be planted in a big pot?
I also ordered roses from Jackson & Perkins, on Roshani's recommendation. She's an avid rose-grower, and apparently their Garden-Ease varieties are particularly simple to handle. I bought a few Scent from Above yellow climbers, their Hot & Spicy variety pack of bedding roses, one Fairy Queen border rose, and one Voluptuous! hybrid tea rose. They're supposed to arrive between June 21-24 -- I'm awfully eager to see them. :-) I mostly picked red roses; I love them best. Though I'm also fond of those roses that change color over the season; at some point I'd like to find some good examples of those and put them in. Any suggestions? Do you know the ones I mean? I think Mutabilis is the classic example, but I don't think it's winter hardy for zone 5. If I planted it in a pot, would I be able to bring it inside to survive over the winter?
Wait, now I'm fretting that I didn't pick roses that will survive the winter. Argh. I wasn't thinking about zone hardiness when I ordered them, just how pretty they are...okay, a little research shows that the 'own root' varieties like Scent from Above and Voluptuous! have strong winter hardiness, so I think they'll be okay. And Fairy Queen is hardy to zone 4. Whew!
In poking around the web, I found this entrancing account of Old Garden Roses, which are apparently far far older than I ever realized, and deeply connected with history. She almost makes me want to abandon hybrid tea roses altogether...
The tentative plan is to build a pergola on part of the roof deck (covering 1/3 - 1/2 the space), and train the Scent from Above yellow climbing roses over it, maybe interspersing some dark red clematis. I don't know that I'll get a lot of growth this summer, but a bit, and they'll be all set for a long season next year. Assuming the pergola gets built in time, we'll hang some annuals for the party; haven't picked those out yet, but soon. There's a fence on one side of the roof, with a rather ugly patch of undecked roofing beyond it -- I'm thinking a long planter (or a pot?) there with the Fairy Queen border rose growing up along the fence? The fence may be too close set for the rose to train itself along it, so I may end up putting a little trellis there for it.
And then we'll probably grow the other roses and some tomatoes and chili peppers (I want Thai green, and Kevin wants habanero) in pots for this season in the sunniest part of the deck, with the plan of building in some fairly large planter beds in late summer, for next year.
What do you think? Sound workable?