Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Window Boxes: I Must Be Doing Something Right!

2012 Window Boxes Square Banner

We will have lived in our house for four years this August. Coming from apartment dwelling, I didn’t know the first thing about maintaining a garden. Luckily I have two great resources – my Mom and my Mother-in-Law who are both avid gardeners. Much of our first summers here were spent asking “is this a weed?” because they are incredibly clever! If only the actual flowers were as genius as the weeds that mimic them.

Last summer, we started to take more risks with our gardens after completely digging two of them up to repair a parging problem that turned out to be much bigger than it looked.  After adding our own flower and shrub choices, it started to feel more like our garden instead of whatever the previous owners had thrown together.

In addition to multiple gardens, our house originally had 7 wrought iron window box frames mounted on the concrete sills. For the first two summers I filled them all up with an assortment of annuals that were on clearance, paying little attention to their sunlight and/or watering needs. It only took one year to learn that me and Lobelia do not get along!

Last year we took down the window boxes across the front of the house because they made it look too cluttered.  The two remaining window boxes sit underneath the garage and guest room windows. In June 2011 they looked like this:

2011 Window Box WM

(This would be the year that I discovered my go-to combination of chartreuse green sweet potato vine and purple heart)

I love the look of dark purple flowers against our red brick.

For my 2011 planters, I used store-bought liners from Canadian Tire. They weren’t a perfect fit, but they did the job. However, as the summer went on, squirrels started to dig in the soil and pull pieces of the coconut liner out at the ends. They looked really pathetic by the fall!

Window Box No Flowers

Guest Room No Flowers

I ran into a problem when I was getting ready to plant this year’s window boxes. I could not find any liners to fit a 30 inch window box. The 24 inch liners were too small (obviously) and the others I found were way too big.

What did I do?  I had to get creative!

I bought a 2 meter long piece of replacement coconut liner from Home Hardware that I cut in half to make the trough shape but then I had to find something to finish the ends. I had purchased one hanging wall planter from Dollarama to test whether it could be used to replace baskets on the other side of the garage. It came with a liner and looked like a much less glamorous version of this:Coconut Liner

It was too small to use for its original purpose, but that’s alright! Mr. Mechanic took one look at it and suggested that we cut the liner in half to create caps for the ends of each window box. He’s so smart!

After buying a second wall planter I was able to finally finish assembling the liners for my window boxes. I wrapped each half around the trough shaped piece to make a cap and then set the whole thing into the wrought iron holder.

Getting Creative

It ended up making the window box planter look much more finished than any of the replacement liners that I could have purchased.

Guest Room May 28th WM

I had one more trick up my sleeve to improve upon last year’s planters.

I read on a few gardening sites that coconut liners make your planters dry up very quickly. Not only that, but when you water them, the soil drains out the bottom. To combat this, I cut the bottom off of two heavy duty garbage bags (love these for renovation garbage) and cut several holes in them for drainage. Once the planter was filled, I trimmed any excess that showed above the soil.

I planted these beauties on May 28th. Take a look at how much they have grown and filled out in just one month!

Here’s the window on the left (the garage) . . .

Garage Flowers One Month Wow

. . . and the window on the right (the guest room).

Guest Room Flowers Collage One Month WM

When we came home after our week up North we couldn’t believe how much they had grown!

I have not used any fertilizer on these planters, but I’m starting to think that the fancy potting soil I used this year was worth every penny. There is some sort of fertilizer additive in the soil that lasts 6 weeks. I am watering these about every 2 to 3 days and there is very little water that drains out (thanks to the garbage bag liner) yet they are not waterlogged, either. Last year I had to water daily!

So, what did I plant for 2012?

Being frugal, I searched around for the best deals but did end paying quite a bit for this year’s flowers (in comparison to my clearance window boxes of 2009 and 2010). They were far from inexpensive, but the curb appeal that they have added to the side of our house (which is what you see from the road – we’re on a corner lot) justified the price. That, and they make me so happy when I pull into the driveway!

Window Box Flower Labels

I originally bought purple petunias but at the last minute I decided that they would be competing with the planters we have on either side of the garage door as well as the purple heart. You can barely even see the petunias in last year’s window boxes.

The bacopa is meant to have little white flowers on it. So far, it is the only plant that has been a bit of a disappointment.

They were blooming in May . . .

May 28th Trailing Plants

but disappeared in June!

June 28th Trailing Flowers

Here’s what both window boxes look like together:

Both Window Boxes WM

(The rest of the garden is still a work in progress)

I still have a few more garden projects to share with you including a planter that I assembled using a great blog tip.

It is officially summer vacation for me now which means that I can blog whenever I want! I wouldn’t normally post twice in one day, but when I discovered that I planted my window boxes on May 28th, I just had to post about them today.

I hope your first week of summer has been wonderful!

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P.S. Check out my other great gardening success – rain boot planters! Soon I’ll have to pick a new flower for the summer.

P.P.S. Remember to enter my giveaway before July 5th!

I link up at: Serenity Now, I {Heart} Naptime, Under The Table And Dreaming, NiftyThrifty Things, Simply Klassic Home, Home Stories A to Z, Craftomaniac, Skip To My Lou, Not JUST A Housewife, A Bowl Full Of Lemons, Alderberry Hill, I Should Be Mopping The Floor, A Diamond In The Stuff, Creatively Living, The Winthrop Chronicles, Clean & Scentsible, Oopsey Daisy, Lil’ Luna, Live.Laugh.Rowe, The 36th Avenue, aka design, House of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Thrifty Decorating, Crafty Scrappy Happy, How To Nest For Less, Tatertots & Jello, The Grant Life, It’s Overflowing, Lolly Jane, Too Much Time, Six Sisters’ Stuff, Positively Splendid, My {Re}purposed Life, Just Us Four and The Crafted Sparrow

Thank you to all the hosts!


  1. Your window boxes look fantastic! I love the color combination! Great tips! I am your newest follower,

  2. Look at those window boxes! Green,purple and lush! You have grown quite a green thumb,Claire! I'll have to remember that garbage bag tip for next year,too. Less watering always agrees with me!

  3. These look great! I love sweet potato vine and bacopa. The year we were married we received two hanging baskets that were white bacopa and they were just beautiful. The sweet potato vine is so hardy and can go with little water for quite some time. I'm not questioning why I didn't buy any this year!

  4. These look great! I am going to have to try that garbage bag trick!

  5. Those are beautiful combinations. I've discovered sweet potato vine this year and love it.

  6. These look great and early do add a lot to the curb appeal. You can also use sheet moss to line the boxes if you want an "earthier" look. i use it a lot with my planters. Love the look. I also like the railroad tie area. What a nice shady spot! Thanks for stopping by for a visit and the kind words about the downspout planters.

  7. Beautiful Claire! I love the colours you mixed together! Dusty millers are one of my favourites too! I think your fancy schmancy soil must be doing it's job! Angie xo

  8. Hi Claire,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I decided to track you back and glad I did. I always enjoy seeing a post which tracks something over a period of time, which you've done with your lovely window boxes. Its like seeing them grow right before our eyes.

    I'm afraid the extent of my gardening is an herb and rose pot on my patio though my Mr. has some flowers in his garden boxes. He's the green thumber in our house.

    Going to enter your draw, thanks for a chance.

    ~ Barb

    PS - I have a free patriotic kit on my blog too if you would like.

  9. Your window box planters look amazing! I would love to add some to our house but that will have to be a future project :)

  10. Beautiful! You've acquired a green thumb for sure!
    <3 Christina at I Gotta Create!
    Wildly Original Round Up party is open!

  11. The boxes full of such lush plants really gives the finishing touch to the area. I am sure all who pass that way enjoy the sight of them. I know I would!

  12. I love the color combination in your planters! The purple heart & potato vine are so great together. Bacopa is one of my favorites as well.
    So pretty!


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