BILOWZ ASSOCIATES INC. is an award winning landscape architectural design firm with a proven philosophy: "Creating Design with Harmony & Balance."
Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Window Dressing

Window boxes or container gardens are not like planting a landscape. Think of it like growing a crop - maximum impact within a very short season. The best examples of these petite flower arrangements are those that receive constant care and nurturing. While you may have some difficulty with certain exposed conditions, i.e., wind, salt, and dry, you cannot forgo the maintenance. If you really want a splash of color and vibrancy, clipping, snipping and attention should not be limited to whenever you get to it. However, here are a few tips to assist with a low-maintenance regime.

1) Use a fertilizer like fish emulsion with every other watering.

2) In very dry conditions, add a small amount of Terra-Sorb or an equivalent product that is a moisture retentive polymer gel. Follow the directions and only use what is necessary.

3) If it is extremely dry and an exposed, windy location, avoid plants that are tall to prevent breakage.

4) For a bulletproof plant list, you can also check into what is used on green roof systems as these locations are also exposed to difficult conditions. recommends sedums, which is a perfect solution for exposed window boxes.

Here are some hardy annuals and perennials for challenging conditions or limited resources. The list can go on but just to get you headed in the right direction.

Sedums (see link above but there are many varieties to choose from)
Hens and Chickens
Succulents (offer green/blue tones)
Wax Begonias
Ice Plant
Portulaca (Annie’s Favorite Annual)
Ornamental grasses (Blue Fescue, Blue Oat Grass, Dwarf Fountain Grass)
Ornamental Peppers

All of these require minimum water, can handle full sun, wind and salt exposure and still provide a varied arrangement of color if done correctly. Shop your local nurseries and pick your plants wisely. Use a little imagination and by all means, do not be afraid to fail. Of course, there are always plastic flowers if you just can’t get it to click.

Today’s post ends with a bit of inspirational wisdom from Gertrude Jekyll, the famous English horticulturist, designer, writer and artist. “There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight.” Thanks to Brenda for her question. Hope this helps everyone with those pesky window dressings. If you need additional ideas, always feel free to post your comments and questions. Enjoy the day! Annie

An early planting of Succulents (These can be overwintered)
Photo by Greg Bilowz
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)