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Meh now, wow later? Let's hope


You know I’m all about keeping it real here, which is why I sometimes show the bad and the ugly as well as the good. As I mentioned last week, here in the Midwest we are suffering from a truly cruddy spring. Most plants are stuck at whatever size they were when they were purchased at the nursery.
The window box is no exception. So so many big landscaping projects going on this year, I’ve not put as much thought into containers as I usually do so the window box was sort of a last minute operation.
I’m one who works by inspiration, so I do best when I can find a picture of something—a combination of textures, colors or specific plants that I like—then tweak it to my tastes or needs, and my go-to source for inspiration is Deborah Silver’s blog Dirt Simple. I’ve mentioned it many times before but Deborah elevates containers to an art form. Although I would have a hard time duplicating what Deborah does—the containers themselves are amazing, not to mention the interesting and mature plant material she uses—I find them very inspiring. If Deborah ever writes a book on container design (please????????) I will be first in line to buy it.
So when I found a picture of a line of containers going up a set stairs that were packed with an insane combination of colors: red, purple, hot pink, I thought, “Why not?” It’s a little wilder than I usually go, and I’m not sure if it relates to anything else that’s going on in the garden or on the patio, but I was drawn in immediately to the inspiration photo so there must be something there.
Even though we put the window box up using a French cleat that would allow us to taken it down, it is so high and so heavy when full of dirt, that it’s just easier to plant it up on the ladder. So before I take all the plants up there, I laid them out on the front steps to get an idea of the best arrangement.
Windowbox2012 1
Windowbox2012 2
After rearranging things a bit, I carried everything up to the box (which I had refreshed the dirt in as well as added some time-release fertilizer) and put it in.
And the effect was … underwhelming. It continues to be, actually. Containers are only really good looking once everything fills in and given the lousy weather, there is no filling out (or in) going on here. Still, I have hope that once the weather turns around it will come the window box will come to life. The fact of the matter is that most home gardeners will deal with this situation when planting containers. It’s better to buy smaller plants that haven’t bloomed themselves out and if you want the best selection at the nursery, that’s exactly what you’ll be buying. In an ideal world, we’d all plant our containers in April and then put them in a greenhouse to fill in and be babied until it’s time for their unveiling, but that’s very realistic. So we plant, squint a lot to imagine what it will look like in a month and hope for the best.
Windowbox2012 3
Superbells Grape Punch is looking positively pathetic in this picture but it perked up overnight and is looking fine now.

Windowbox2012 4
This is not exactly the big unveiling of the window box I was hoping to put on the blog, but that’s just not how things go sometimes. Instead, we’ll watch it grow and see if it’s a success or a candidate for the failboat.
The background is dark red geraniums and a few nicotianas. Along the front edge is:
Superbena Royale Iced Cherry* (a crazy bright pink that I love! The Superbena Royale series is pretty spectacular: Last year I grew Royale Chambray and loved it and this year both Iced Cherry and Peachy Keen look promising. I hereby proclaim that the next addition to the Superbena Royale line is Superbena Royale With Cheese … please Proven Winners?)
Suberbells Sweet Tart*
Superbells Grape Punch* (the “punch” line of Superbells is pretty fantastic too. This one is sort of medium purple with a dark purple center.)
Lime green Licorice plant (Helichrysum) for a little shot of cool color in this “hot” mix.
* These plants were provided by Proven Winners free of charge as part of their garden writers testing program. To my knowledge, all are set to be 2012 introductions so you probably won’t find them in nurseries this year and they may be in limited release next year. I have not been paid to write about these plants and any comments on them are entirely my own.

3 Responses

  1. Erin, you're just living up to your reputation of being The Impatient Gardener! But I'm right there with you this year. You said it when you said things look pretty much like they did when we planted them. (And that would be called "mudding them in" this year!)

    I'm horrible at container planting and need an example to help me out. Once in awhile I get it right, and when I do, I use it a LOT. My flower boxes on the front porch this year are an example. They're pretty much the same as last year's. A few changes in plants, but basically the same look and I like it. I have no doubt yours will be fabulous soon, too, if the weather ever decides to help us out!

  2. I got the window box last year and it really changed the front of the house but I've not nailed the planting of it yet. Stupid weather. At least I'm not suffering alone.

  3. I know what you mean…this spring has been for the birds! I am envious of your windowboxes…I wish I had some! I have some of the Punch series from this year and they are really pretty.

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