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Gardens for small spaces

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Within the boundaries of the city of Philadelphia are plenty of lovely garden areas, both in public venues and parks, along footpaths and around private residences. Grassy banks planted with bulbs enhance the landscape beside viaducts and bridges during spring. City residents and suburban visitors love the shade provided by poplar, sycamore, plane, maple and elm trees when summer temperatures make the sidewalks bake. Perennials form beds of living art in plazas and sports venues. Vibrant annuals adorn planters along city streets, and in hospital and museum grounds.

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Numerous center city homes, though, have little or no yard in which to grow trees, perennials or even a few annuals. Downtown gardeners with balconies, windowsills, entrance ways, diminutive decks and petite patios are often quite creative when fitting a remarkable number of plants into tiny spaces.

Pocket-sized gardens do not have to be complicated, or filled with a huge diversity of flowers. Some of the simplest pairings can make a dramatic difference to a miniature plot, and can brighten the view, while using only a few key components.

Trusty petunias are available in an increasing number of brilliant shades each year. Their proven ability to withstand fierce Philadelphia sun, while burgeoning into a cascade of trumpets in bright hues has earned them a place in a multitude of outdoor floral displays. Combine popular begonias and impatiens in a plain terracotta pot to invigorate a shady corner spot. Their care could not be easier. Plant coleus and calibrachoa in a window box to create a hanging garden that incorporates flowing and upright qualities. Add specimen foliage annuals to planters brimming with blooms. Artemisia, vinca, sedum and ornamental grasses can impart alternate texture and form in shades that balance and complement vibrant flowers.

Just one pot of flowers can add an uplifting ambience to a scant site. Small spaces and large landscapes each do their part in adding to the colors that make summer so dazzling.

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