Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Winter Window Box Again - A Stroke of Luck

While the backyard is full of them, I didn't buy pansies for the window boxes this fall.

I have a Springtime habit of  overstuffing the five boxes that suspend from the front windows. Installing pansies would have required prematurely uprooting or discarding basics like the massive drips of potato vines that had reached Rapunzel lengths,  the hot pink geraniums that revived with the first cool blasts of fall, and frills like the bits of wandering jew that had grown from  exclamation points poked into the boxes in April to substantial flourishes.

Besides, I needed to find room for the tiny cabbages (!) I picked up at the Raleigh Farmer's Market when I visited Baby in North Carolina this past November.

Garden snobs sniff on, but cabbages delight me, the colors, the textures, the feel of a birthday card when you're five years old and the bunnies hop hop down the yellow path with blue birds and butterflies winging overhead and daisies and zinnias dotting the psycadelically green grass...all cabbages need is a little glitter. (mmmmmmmmm thinking glitter. That's an aside.)

I feel I must here reinforce my curmudgeonly creds: I don't like photos of cats, bunnies, or babies. In fact I don't particularly like kids (other than MY Baby)-- unless they're strange, or have froggy voices, or are at least a little weird looking. That's enough for today.  

One last thought about the cabbages, since I think this post is about petunias, finding them small -- in six packs, no less -- for ONE DOLLAR EACH -- was a halleluja event. Full size cabbages are not only ridiculously expensive, they bolt too quickly in this warmish climate, shooting up leggy bits that disorder the pretty clump. They are also difficult to plant in window boxes because of their large root balls (which don't take kindly to trimming, by the way). Plant full sized cabbages and you can have little else, which  doesn't at all suit me.

After two months they are now the perfect size, by four they'll start to become unlovely, but it will be Spring and time for a cycle of something else.

So now that the cold has dropped over us like an icy shroud, and I contemplate the immediate loss of whatever in the boxes has so far survived and find myself hungry for the color and cheer of pansies.

As luck would have it, Maggie and Gary are leaving today for half a world cruise, a month on a ship that will leave from New York and eventually pitch up in Australia where they'll spend another month exploring.

What I get out of this -- in one of those mom and dad went to Hawaii and all I got is this stupid t-shirt events -- is four 4-packs of pansies from her terrace that she never got around to planting. Oh, and two avocado plants rooting in a glass jar, but that's neither here nor there.

I toted them home last night and sat a pack in each corner of the two lower boxes and find I am delighted with the way they look -- hoisting up the rear of the display in a way they ordinarily would not.  In past years I've tucked them on either side of whatever I've got going on as a centerpiece, which means they're usually obscured by adjacent foliage.

While I don't know about maintaining them in the shallow soil of the plastic containers,  I'm delighted with the composition (although I expect those last waggling leaves of a purple wandering jew to be a black sog by tomorrow -- finally, a frost!). 

I need to containerize them in such a way that they retain the lift, but don't require near daily fussing followed by near certain death.

Small pots would do I think and might be unearthed from my charming potting area under the back porch, feel free to fantasize while I move a spare tire and the rusted saw blades. Among other things.

But how much more interesting would it be to employ a little creative reuse of stuff more immediately to hand -- a line of thinking that reminds me of gardens and window boxes at a recent Philadelphia Flower Show, where various non sequiturs became part of the displays.

I have plenty of oddments lying about, and if I was feeling a little more energetic I'd photograph them nicely against a black backdrop so they sparkle. But I'm not, so I'll just say that on a quick inventory of household objets that I just did between the keyboard and the kitchen there is the concrete thingamabob doing nothing on the fireplace hearth that sits next to a copper urn that is likewise under-employed, and the three glass lamp shades that are for some reason sitting on the kitchen counter (which probably have to do with a Princely project - but I could just look blank and say "I dunno" when he asks where they went), and the trio of long-stemmed, pink and green Mexican wine glasses that are never in use, and a few silvery bowls with sufficient depth ....

Off to play.


  1. You're such a liar. I guarantee you'll like this cat picture:

    1. You are perfectly right. That is the cat for me. And I shall call her Precious.

  2. I don't put out window boxes at all. I love them, but I think they would be out of place with my house/landscaping. However, I love the idea of sticking unused things from around the house in them. I have a broken chicken cheese cutting board that would look great propped up at just the right angle next to a cabbage.

    1. Check out the link my slide show of such at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Love the bikes!


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