Boxing Clever

In the 22nd of her series Clippings From A Small Garden, travel writer Pat Richardson shares the pleasure of her own little corner of heaven to come home to

Window boxes and hanging baskets? Yes to the former, and no to the latter for me, because I just don’t think that hanging baskets look natural. I realise that window boxes probably don’t either, but like the way they link garden and house.

I don’t care for plastic window boxes at all, so disposed of the three that were in place when I bought my house. I didn’t want them on upstairs sills either, because I wasn’t keen on having to carry them through the house and outside to replant. So this article really only refers to one window sill in my house: the dining room’s. Having window boxes there means that at mealtimes I and my guests view the garden over a floral display.

You may now be wondering why I say window boxes, not window box, given that I’m talking about a single window sill. That’s where the first tip I want to share comes in. Shopping around for a replacement for the plastic trough I threw away, I quickly realised that I couldn’t lift or move a terra cotta one of the same size. So I bought two smaller ones – and what a godsend that decision proved to be. I can easily lift and carry each in turn to the garden table to refresh and replant them; swap them over so that each gets its fair share of sun; and move them out of the way to clean the windows.

What do I plant in them? Flowering plants that echo the garden’s colour scheme of pink, blue and purple – but not necessarily all three. This Spring I’ve chosen an array of soft pink primulas, with deeper pink centres, which should flower right through to Autumn. In early Summer, I’ll add a contrasting colour cascade of amethyst trailing lobelias. My second tip for window boxes – and pots, too – is, when plants in them are well-established, once a week when watering add liquid tomato fertiliser to ensure a profusion of flowers

Next year, I’ll transfer the primulas into a pot or two on the patio, and plant the window boxes with a mixture following the thriller, filler and spiller formula – perhaps pelargoniums, aubretia, trailing ivy and lobelia. Whatever I choose, and it’s something different each year, having a pair of terra cotta troughs makes managing this aspect of my garden much easier, and gives more rewarding results.

Image By Giulio Bernardi from Vicenza, Italy (Arcobaleni)