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When DH and I moved to an apartment in Los Angeles years ago we had no yard or outside area to call ours except a 10' X 12' concrete slab facing a concrete driveway and another apartment building. The only window in the LR faced this so called "patio" The sun beat down and reflected all the hot summer sun into the house and it sometime got to be over 110degrees in the shade...if there had been any shade! Our solution was to "build" a big box frame out of pipes and fittings over the whole patio. It had to be free standing.
We covered the whole thing with shade cloth and I filled the area with planters and pots and hanging plants. It turned into a green and lush haven in a concrete jungle.
The manager of the apartment got so jealous after a couple of months that she ordered us to take it all down or be evicted! All the neighbors had a fit and wrote to the property owner who came to see what the fuss was about. He liked it so much he ordered the manager to "build" frames like it for all the patios! By the next spring there were flowers growing everywhere and the concrete jungle no longer looked or felt so bleak.
We live in the country now and I am learning to garden in the ground. But since the property is on an old riverbed with little or no top soil in most areas I am still container gardening...only on a much larger scale!
When we moved out of the Apartments I had to leave behind all my "garden" That was over 20 years ago. We went back to visit and imagine my suprise when I drove by and not only was it still there but some of the original roses and vines were alive and well! The rest of the neighborhood had gone down hill and looked awful but that one complex with it's patio "gardens" looked well kept and wonderful!
I think that having plants and flowers must have attracted renters who cared about their space. A dear lady who has lived there for all these years told me that the current owner actually ordered one tennant to replace the frame work he took down and now screens renters by watching their reactions to the plants!
What a wonderful story! Warms my heart to hear that other is the old building also cherished what you and yours nurtured.
I've been a prof. gardener for a lot of years and have tried to offer container classes and workshops for condo and apartment growers (and for those with physical challenges). Roof top and patio container gardening may well be the wave of the future. The missionary group, ECHO, out of Florida has promoted slab gardening for years. Only need 6 or so inches of soil/planting medium to grow lots of food crops and flowers. A little dirt, a little seed, lots of love, and...