Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Favorite Day in the Garden - Window Box Day!

It's a little silly how excited I get on the day I replant my window boxes. Somehow it feels magical. Without question, it is my favorite garden task. Twice a year I get to enjoy the ritual and by the end of the day my home is transformed by tiny flowers. It just seems to sparkle when I'm done.

Oh, how I love going to nurseries. What better way to start your day than shopping for delicate flowers? The thing about window boxes which makes them so special is that the flowers are brought up closer to eye level, so the flowers' unique facets are appreciated. For this reason, I choose plants with varying shapes and details. This spring we have impatients, angelonia, fuschia, sweet alyssum, vinca, and lobelia. Clearly I am partial to pinks and purples. Most of the plants are in 6 packs which are less expensive.

Here is my little secret to keeping my redwood window boxes from rotting away after a couple of years: I line mine with plastic. It's also a simple and effective way to help to retain the moisture in the soil. Here in Southern California things dry out so quickly. You can buy the plastic drop cloths in the paint section of your hardware store. Cut it big enough so that when the sheet is pushed down by the soil, it will be a little shorter than the edge of the box so it won't show. Then poke holes in the plastic where the drill holes are so the water will drain.

Fill it with dirt and fold the corners so the plastic doesn't show.

I use fresh potting soil and a start-up fertilizer in my window boxes each time I change the plants. Ask your nurseryman what is recommended as a fertilizer, read the directions for how much to use. I generally use a couple of tablespoons per box. Mix it in well before planting the plants. Do not use too much fertilizer as the plants will not do well.

And now the real fun begins! I like to arrange the plants by laying them in the box before I actually dig the holes and tuck in the little guys. This allows me to rearrange them if needed without disturbing them so much. Be sure to loosen the roots a little if they are root bound like this one.
Root bound plant 
Same plant after its roots were gently loosened
Take care not to bury the plant too deep or too shallow. The soil should end up being level with the soil the plant came in (see the right side of this pic).

Press the soil down and make sure to fill in any holes and areas between the plants with soil. Plants do not like to have their roots grow into an air pocket.

Now at this point I'm hearing my mother's voice in my head. She's telling me that I have to wash the windows before I put the flower boxes on the brackets. She's right. Don't want dirty windows to hamper my view of the little lovelies. This is not my favorite part of my favorite day in the garden. But my windows must be washed at least twice a year, right?

Always give your transplants a good soaking as soon as possible to lessen the shock.  I water mine daily for a couple of days then decrease to watering as needed. (Mine are hand watered, not on a timer.)

Hint: Place the window box on the supports before you water the plants so it's not as heavy.

And now that the windows are clean I can enjoy the view. Wonderful how window boxes bring the garden into the house. Washing dishes is much more enjoyable with the company of fuschia!
My house is transformed!

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