Garden Spaces: Joyful Windows

Put fresh herbs within reach with these colorful containers

| April/May 2008

  • You'll have a ready supply of edible petals and foliage with a window planter. These planters utilize, from left: fernleaf dill, English lavender, 'Spicy Globe' basil, pinks, calendula, 'Lemon Gem' marigolds, chives, scented geraniums, nasturtiums and violets.
    Gayle Ford

Cheerful window boxes can improve your view, whether you’re looking from the inside or outside of your home.

With herb-filled window boxes, beauty and usefulness go hand in hand. You can fill your boxes with color, fragrance and flavor, and put on a bright show for the neighborhood at the same time. Best of all, you’ll have a ready supply of edible petals and foliage to snip onto salads or add to a bottle of vinegar.

These two companion boxes are designed to be used together on a pair of windows that have sunny exposure. The blooms’ colors mirror and balance each other. The bright pink of the chive pompons reflects the bright pink of the dianthus, just as the intense purple of the sweet violets echoes the deep purple of the lavender spikes. Similarly, calendula’s gaudy orange petals repeat the gold-orange hues of the marigolds and nasturtiums.

For interesting contrasts in foliage and form, the boxes include a mound of feathery dill, ‘Spicy Globe’ basil with tiny leaves, branching scented geraniums with rounded leaves and a clump of spiky chives.

These are just 10 of the many herbal possibilities for window boxes. Although some people prefer orderly groupings of five or six identical plants per box, with bloom colors that complement their home, I’ve gone for a different look—one that is less tidy but more bountiful. I think of it as a cottage-garden version of a window box. These little gardens would look particularly splendid in white boxes against a white house.

Choose a window box planting style that suits you. If you decide you don’t like it, simply change it next season.

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