Let’s hear it for Leaside’s balcony gardeners!

Jean Sugarbroad-Keele is a passion- ate and dedicated balcony gardener whose Leaside condo terrace is a true pollinator paradise. Photo Jean Sugarbroad-Keele.
Jean Sugarbroad-Keele is a passionate and dedicated balcony gardener whose Leaside condo terrace is a true pollinator paradise. Photo Jean Sugarbroad-Keele.

Balconies have proven to be essential spaces for condo and apartment dwellers, especially during the pandemic. Whether big or small, these outdoor extensions provide a safe space to connect to the outside world, a place to relax and get some fresh air.   

But a balcony can be and do so much more. Add just a few of the right plants to a balcony and suddenly there’s a mini garden in the sky helping to restore our lack of natural biodiversity and improving our urban canopy too!    

By simply growing some fruit and veg, a few herbs along with some native florals, a balcony garden like this is helping to support our essential pollinators. And by growing a single dwarf tree, a couple of evergreens or even a few ferns, a balcony garden is helping both to cool and clean our air. Just imagine if every balcony had a garden like one of these.     

This kind of ecological connectivity is happening more at ground level with pollinator projects such as the David Suzuki Butterflyway project and most recently Project Swallowtail (hope to see a Block Ambassador start a group here in Leaside) showing us how each and every pollinator garden joins together to create a corridor. And it looks like some of our local sky gardeners have risen to the challenge (pun intended) to participate too.

Jean Sugarbroad-Keele's balcony in a 'before' picture, looking completely empty.
Jean Sugarbroad-Keele’s balcony in a ‘before’ picture.

Jean Sugarbroad-Keele is a passionate and dedicated balcony gardener whose Leaside condo terrace is a true pollinator paradise. She wrote to me to suggest the possibility of the first ever Leaside Life balcony contest and I must say, I simply love this idea!

But rather than choosing one winner (every balcony garden is a winner in my eyes) wouldn’t it be great to see how our local balcony gardeners are greening up our neighbourhood and helping our pollinators? Wouldn’t it be inspiring to see how many different kinds of gardens are possible high above the ground, right here in Leaside?

Calling all Balcony Gardeners 

If you’re a balcony gardener who wants to inspire others, send a photo of your Leaside balcony garden to by August 5. That should allow more than enough time to showcase your balcony at its best. Include a list of your plant selections and in a few words, tell us a bit about your balcony garden. In September, we’ll present these photos in the online version of Leaside Life for all of us to appreciate and learn from.      

Meanwhile, if you’re a condo or apartment dweller with an empty balcony, there’s still lots of time to green it up. Check out Toronto Balconies Bloom at Toronto Urban Growers (torontourbangrowers.org) where you’ll find everything you need to know on getting started, and more. To make your plant sourcing easier, Davenport Garden Centre on Bayview has a wide assortment of native, organic and neonic-free plants with a knowledgeable staff to guide you.    

Perhaps you have some issues with your balcony garden and need some advice. Toronto Master Gardeners have a great site (www.torontomastergardeners.ca) with gardening guides and resources with up-to-date information. Go to their Ask a Master Gardener page and you’ll most likely find your question has already been addressed in detail. If not, simply send in your question and a Toronto Master Gardener will reply. I’ve learned a lot from reading other gardeners’ questions. Or feel free to email me at with your balcony garden problem and I will dig in to find you the answer or at least point you in the right direction. 

Here’s to our mighty and essential balcony gardeners who are building back a better Leaside in the sky!

About Debora Kuchme 41 Articles
After a 30-year career as a fashion designer, Debora worked at Horticultural Design for over a decade. Now with her concerns about climate change, she hopes to help local gardeners find positive solutions for a greener and healthier neighbourhood. As a board member of the Bayview Leaside BIA, she created the Bayview Pixies, a volunteer group introducing sustainable gardening practice to Bayview.