This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Last year, we started every single plant from seed and filled every single one of the mini “raised bed” containers that we built. This year, for many reasons, we’ve chosen only a few plants and planted only half our containers. Fragrance is our focus/theme this year – and most of our plants will have a powerful scent. Our patio has full sun for more than 6 hours per day, and it’s scorching and dry in the Summer. We are focused on growing a bunch of flowers and some herbs from small and medium-sized nursery plants. There is only have one tomato plant for veggies and one strawberry plant, though we’ll be giving them extra attention to maximize a tiny harvest. Read below to see the list of what we’ve planted, the tools I recommend, my favorite books, and inspiring garden “influencers.”
What We’ve Planted
- Sweet Basil
- Tomato “Patio” Hybrid Determinate
- Strawberry “Quinault”
Flowers & Foliage
- English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Gardenia “Sweet Tea” (Gardenia Jasminoides ‘PIIGA-II’ PP27,258)
- Dwarf Butterfly Bush “Pugster Blue” (Buddleia x)
- Sweet Fragrance Easy Elegance Shrub Rose (Rosa ‘BAInce’ PP19,969)
- Peony “Charlie’s White” (Paeonia lactiflora)
- Trailing Nasturtiums “Single Blend” (Tropaeolum majus)
- Marigold Signet Lemon & Tangerine Gems (Tagetes tenuifolia)
- Japanese Maple (var. unknown)
Where to Shop for Plants
Inside tip – here’s an incredible community sourced map for nurseries local to Philadelphia.
In other places, be sure to search on Google Maps with different keywords, like “garden center” and “plant nursery” as I’ve often found I get different results depending upon what I search for.
To my friends in North Carolina, Cedar Creek Gallery is a hidden gem that deserves lots more love – their plant selection is aces.
If you’re working on a patio or other small space, there’s only a few tools you’ll need – all of them quite small. As always, searching for used on Facebook Marketplace and your local Buy Nothing Group is a good first stop.
- Trowel – (1) – A small one will do, and I love that this one is stainless steel and made in the USA.
- Secateurs – (2) – Japanese-made secatuers and snips are well known for being the sharpest and longest lasting.
- Gloves – (3) – I find basic pair with great grip work so much better than the jersey floral ones.
- Drill & Bits Set – For adding holes to containers, and hanging baskets and window boxes.
- Expandable Hose & Nozzle – (4) – We just switched from a standard green garden hose to one of the expanding ones, and it saves so much space and coiling frustration.
- Adjustable Watering Wand – (5) – If you have high baskets or planters (or if you’re a bit short like me), an adjustable wand helps so much.
- Drip Kit for Containers with Timer – On my wishlist! While I absolutely love the ritual of going out into the garden to water my plants, I also have a few other things on my daily list to take care of like a child, a large dog, a husband, a home, a business I’m building, ha! I’d love to eventually add a drip line to protect my plants from my neglect.
TV, YouTube & Documentaries
I have to add this section near the top of this post, because to be quite honest, our patio garden hobby is a newer one. While I grew up on a farm, and my mother is a prolific gardener, AND I have always kept houseplants, we only started our garden in earnest in 2019.
After our son was born in January 2019, I spent so many early morning hours nursing on the couch. I couldn’t palate watching anything intense and found “Big Dreams, Small Spaces” on Netflix (now only available on Prime). Hosted by Monty Don, this show follows folks developing a garden of their own on patios, rooftops, and small yards. It’s such a fantastic, creative show – and after a year of working on or living in our home renovation, Edward and I were hooked on the idea of creating a small garden oasis.
If you’re curious about starting a garden, but perhaps you don’t currently have the budget, space, time or ability to begin the process – enjoying a few of these shows and documentaries can inspire and educate you until you can.
- Big Dreams, Small Spaces
- Gardeners’ World – Also hosted my Monty Don, with a rotating cast of correspondents. Including my husband’s doppelgänger, Adam Frost.
- Garden Answer – I’ve just began watching Laura’s channel. Since they are located eastern Oregon (zone 6b), a lot of the advice and plantings can work for our garden as well.
I love reading about gardening and doing plant research almost as much as I love actually gardening. Learning the botanical names of plants is like unlocking a completely new language and understanding. I’ve found that more and more, I prefer to use books as references, instead of only relying on the internet. There’s something solid and reassuring about digging into a book when you’re taking on a new project. Hint: Pre-internet books, from the 90’s, have so much solid, practical information in them, and you can find many of them secondhand or ex-library on Thrift Books (use my referral link and get 15% off).
Read & Loved
- Monty Don, Complete Gardener
- Monty Don, Urban Jungle: The Simple Way to Tame Your Town Garden
- Better Homes & Gardens, Complete Guide to Flower Gardening
- Sally Coulthard, Floriography: The Myths, Magic and Language of Flowers
On My Wishlist
- Better Homes & Gardens, New Complete Guide to Gardening
- Nicole Johnsey Burke, Kitchen Garden Revival
- Erin Benzakein, Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias
- Jane Eastoe, Peonies: Beautiful Varieties for Home & Garden, also Dahlias, Hydrangeas and Tulips!
- Kevin Espiritu, Field Guide to Urban Gardening
- Adam Frost, How to Create Your Garden
- Isa Hendry Eaton & Jennifer Blaise Kramer, Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers
To Follow on Instagram
While I do follow plenty of folks in the United Kingdom, because I love the Brits’ passion for gardening, I also seek out people who are growing and planting nearby. Many influencers in the gardening space list their zone in their bio, and you can even search via hashtags. Be sure to look for your state or city horticultural society too.
If made it this far, you’re certainly curious about getting started on your own urban garden! Read my previous post here, and then just jump in. Gardening has certainly become my absolute favorite hobby, and I hope this inspires you to give it a go too.