Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Windowbox: What's In It For Me?


Well, as reader and commenter Ruth Anne pointed out: geraniums. Of course, to impress your friends you draw back upon yourself and say: "Geraniums? Certainly not! Pelargoniums!" Of course we're down home people here at Sippican Cottage and just refer to everything as: "Dah flowahs."

The windowbox we're going to make is well suited to geraniums. There you see it just planted with little nursery geraniums and a few vinca vines to eventually droop down. The spot gets good sun in the afternoon so the blooms come. The plants get quite tall for how little soil there is for them to grow in. See yesterday's photo.

We filled another box of the same design with begonias, which show flowers even though the window faces northwest, ie: never gets any sun.

So what's a window box for, exactly? Well, it's got a few uses. In urban settings, it might be all the outdoor plants you're going to get. In suburbia, the plantings around the house are generally there to blunt the join between the ground and your house. But you can't see them much from inside the house. Getting them up at sill level brings the outdoors inside a bit, without transferring the buckets of mud indoors.

The purpose of most plants in home landscaping is to achieve a picturesque effect. I'm not sure very many people understand that. There is a melding of cognitive dissonance with a sort of Home Depot delirium tremens in evidence in most landscaping. The houses look like they are at war with the yard; the plants look disconnected from one another and the house; everything is laid out like a farm plot, which is is by its nature unnatural looking; and neatness to the point of plasticity is prized over the picturesque. Your plantings need to be a well organized mess to achieve a picturesque effect. That's subtle, so it's harder to understand than a profoundly organized sterile looking yard.

Other than vines creeping right up the siding, the windowbox is the easiest way to further banish the dotted line between inside and outside, harsh and soft, and nature and artifact. And deer don't like to eat out of them. If you want flowers around here, that's pretty much your first and only consideration.

You can click on the Amazon box in the right hand column and search for books about what kind of plants you might want to put in there. Then decide which window you want to put the windowbox under, and measure it. Windowboxes traditionally are made the width of the sash, but I like to make them the width of the sash and frame.

There. Day 2 of making a windowbox is over, and you haven't hit your thumb or broken a sweat. See? I told you it would be easy. Tune in tomorrow and see if we're actually accomplishing anything yet.

4 comments:

Sissy Willis said...

You're right on about the houses' looking like they're at war with the yard. Not to mention the flowers, their lovely colors perpetually at war with the acrid orange of the ubiquitous pine bark mulch that covers the land.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Do your kids pop those little purple flowers? I used to when I was a kid and loved it.

Nature's bubble-wrap.

SippicanCottage said...

Sissy- Hear, hear. I remember the first time I saw that bark mulch you describe. It was everywhere in California thirty years ago. Dreadful. Suitable for abandoned McDonald's restaurant parking lot landscaping and nothing else. Now it's everywhere. Mulch should be blacker than a politician's heart, and should confine itself to small interstices between the plants. People seem to think it should be carnival colored and is a substitute for the plants now.

Ruth Anne- The flowers pop? News to me. Those are hostas (plantain lilies) You are originally a midwestern girl, yes? Perhaps there is a lupine or hollyhock or something with bell-like flowers that pop? Either that, or I've been missing out on a great deal of fun popping these flowers. The hummingbirds love them, I can tell you.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Sippican: I may be mistaken, but my recollection is that they make a good pop sound if you do it right before they blossom.