Have you always wanted to have a lovely garden on your apartment balcony?One with little to no maintenance? And better yet, have someone choose the plants with your direction, do the plantings, and then take care of them? It has taken five years of my searching, but I’ve finally found someone who fits the bill, thanks to a good friend. And now I have my garden of paradise – it’s modest, but lovely. Here’s how you can make this happen and also tips on apartment gardening. And she does succulent and orchid arrangements too.
The Nicaraguan Elizabeth Mendoza’s mother had a nursery., and she had a love of plants from an early age. After a stint that veered her away from her true passion, she refound it in Miami,working in a plant store that she ended up managing. Five years ago she went out on her own, specializing in condo balcony gardens, indoor plants, and unusual arrangements of cacti and succulents . Many of the shop’s clients came with her, including the owner of Sergio’s restaurants who gave her the account of all of their restaurants along with their home, effectively getting her off to a solid start.
Elizabeth’s passion comes through in everything she does. She’s about interpreting what the client wants – flowering plants, cacti, ferns; plantings that change with the season or perennials that last year after year. When we met – she does complimenary consultations – we talked about what I like –plants that required a minimum of maintenance and were perennials, with an emphasis on flowers. She showed me examples on her ipad. She used my existing planters, which had to be cleaned and disinfected since one of them had white flies (couldn’t believe they would come up to the 11th floor!). I opted for a combo of ferns, flowering plants, and leafy plants.
She took my planters home and brought them back a week later with all of their flowering goodness. All, except the largest pots where she did “combos” — four different plants in one pot. They were fertilized and ready for prime time. I also arranged with her to return once a month to check on my new “babies”, do any necessary trimming, and fertilize them.
Elizabeth will also do cacti and orchid arrangements which show her creative eye both for the plants and for the handsome vessels. Her rates are reasonable and, as I mentioned, she will do as little or as much as the client wants. She also does the popular vertical garden walls.
The only thing is that she only speaks Spanish, so you need to have someone there who helps with the translating if you’re not a Spanish speaker.
I asked Elizabeth for her top tips for balcony gardeners and here’s her advice (besides the obvious one about knowing how much sunlight you get – full sun, partial, or shade):
- Not sure how much water to use? Get a water thermometer or do what they do in Mexico – use a terracotta spike. When the spike is dry, it means it’s water time.
- Potting soil is the best for containers, never top soil as it has no nutrients.
- Change your soil every six months.
- Fertilize every month, a combo of 12-6-8. Or, you can use Peter’s granular fertilizer and then it’s every two weeks.
Elizabeth can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 786-389-1150. Her home in Kendall is her showroom.