This hoverfly simply couldn’t take its eyes (and its proboscis) off the mint flower. Maybe because it smelled that this was not an ordinary garden or greenhouse mint. In fact, the Mentha grew from a slipping that I had broken off from a plant during an early summer hiking tour in the Alps and that rooted in water afterwards. Now it’s in the pot for about one month and sometimes I wonder whether it is nostalgic for the meadow full of sweet-smelling colourful flowers about a thousand meters above sea level where it originally grew.
On the balcony, I am only growing plants that are either entirely or partially edible. This is not because of a deliberate decision resulting in a ban of all non-edible plants from that space. It was rather the other way round: There never were any non-edible plants outside. I do have some of these, however. They live on different window sills inside the apartment and have to close ranks in late autumn when the balcony dwellers need to be overwintered inside. Yet right now, there is ample space. For example for this orchid that is already blossoming for the second time this year.
That a balcony is no ecosystem is, of course, not a novel insight. Yet sometimes one needs a little reminder. Over the past couple of days, this caterpillar and its twin have devoured more melissa leaves than I would need for a cup of tea. And since the city birds of our street are spoiled by fast food and pizza, they did not seem to care about a fresh green dose of proteins.
Because of its love for herbs, I think it is the larva of a Silver Y. But this is more of a guess.
…and the pollinators did come to visit the beauty. This bumblebee was even a frequent guest on the onion flower and I used to think that since both are round and fluffy they somehow resemble each other. Also I love how both the English word bumblebee, but also the German translation Hummel capture the fluffiness and seeming clumsiness of the animal.
Gardening (even or maybe especially on a small balcony) is about the pleasure of seeing growth, of following the steps a plant takes to move from seeds to fruit. One of the most beautiful stages in this process is when the first flower opens its petals. Here is this summer’s first chili pepper flower.
The plant it belongs to is already three years old and I overwinter it inside in the coldest and darkest room of our apartment. That is not as ideal as a greenhouse, but has worked for most plants so far. I repotted the pepper this spring and lots of new leaves and flower buds suggest that it is more than happy about the larger pot and fresh soil.
This is the second year I am experimenting with onions on my small French balcony. Last year there were no flowers, but small bulb offsets from the mother onion I had put in the soil in the spring. This year, there is this gorgeous umbel of onion flowers that will hopefully provide me with seeds in the end of the season. Dear pollinators dwelling in the city, feel invited to visit this beauty!