Doddington Place Gardens

Crossing the Borders

Winter Colour in Window Boxes

Window boxes in towns and cities really come into their own in the dank winter months.  In the summer there are flowers to be seen at every turn, in parks, square gardens, window boxes not forgetting many florists displays spilling out across pavements.  But in winter the cheery sight of a window box brimming with colour enhances the day of everyone who walks or drives past it.  I long to see a London street where every ground floor window ledge boasts a window box filled with different combinations of plants up and down the road.  My friend, Fern Alder who fizzes with community spirit and energy galvanised everyone in her old street in Rochester, Kent to jazz up their front gardens with a multitude of plants in an initiative she wittily called ‘Full Frontal’.  There is a case for a similar initiative to be taken up nationwide from Edinburgh to Carlisle to Litchfield to Brighton to plant up window boxes. Three cheers for those who plant up window boxes. Thank you.

A classic choice of tastefully pale coloured cyclamens enlivened by the addition of a colourful child's toy.

A classic choice of tastefully pale coloured cyclamens enlivened by the addition of a colourful child’s toy.

Window boxes have a long history stretching back to the Romans who used terracotta window boxes. Surprisingly c ontemporary examples are surprisingly pedestrian in design.  There is a new business out there waiting for someone imaginative.  Window boxes are also ideal for those living in blocks of flats, just follow the example of the Romans and plant culinary herbs in them.  Saves you popping out to the shops.

There is a pleasing rhythm to the art of planting window boxes:

Tall centre plants – ‘thrillers’ i.e. Cordylines, box, little conifers.

Mounding plants – ‘fillers’ i.e. pansies, petunias, winter cabbage, snapdragons, wallflowers.

Cascading plants – ‘spillers’ i.e. lobelias, ivy or ivy geraniums.

This display follows the above strictures encompassing 'thrillers' coleus, 'fillers' hebes, and 'spillers' lobelia.

This display follows the above strictures encompassing ‘thrillers’ coleus, ‘fillers’ hebes, and ‘spillers’ lobelia.

Here is a selection of window boxes I spied in Pimlico, London.  Of course the white stucco that abounds in Pimlico is an excellent backdrop for bright colours as can be seen in some of the following examples:

Although this isn't a window box, this lovely combination of pansies and cyclamen would look very good in a window box.

Although this isn’t a window box, this lovely combination of pansies and cyclamen would look very good in a window box.

 

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Bright colours stand out from a distance so are perfect for a creating an impact.

 

A good try at being a bit quirky using a mixture of skimmia, cyclamen and heather.

A good try at being a bit quirky using a mixture of skimmia, cyclamen and heather.

When it comes to simplicity good old box wins the day.  It is great for structure and greenery.

Not sure if these balls are plastic or the real thing.  Never mind either way it is a chic solution.

Not sure if these balls are plastic or the real thing. Never mind either way it is a chic solution.

 

 

A contemporary look but perhaps a bit dull?  Where are the 'spillers' for example?

A contemporary look but perhaps a bit dull? Where are the ‘spillers’ for example?

Let me know on twitter @dodplacegardens if you spot any good examples of window boxes.  I would love to see them.  Thanks.