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Gardening:
The Moonlight Garden
The Water Garden
The Rock Garden
The Wild Flower Garden
The Court Of The Queen Of Flowers
The Children's Garden
The Bulb Garden
The Indoor Garden
The Garden That Faces Four Ways
What Can Be Done With Half An Acre
Old And New Flowers For The Garden
Where Are And Nature Meet
Our Birds And Our Gardens
The Flower Spectrum
Garden Friends And Foes
Trees And Tree Planting
Window Box Gardening
Flowers For Cutting
Garden Warnings
The More Common Garden Flowers And How To Grow Them

Window Box Gardening

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



If eyes are the windows of the soul, as is commonly said, the old proverb may also be interpreted as meaning that through the windows shines the soul of the house. Nor is this as fantastic an idea as it may seem at first-for who of us does not recognize the spirit which lies back of bare, unadorned windows, ill-kept porch and window boxes, or the plain bare house, however neat, which has no provision made for its adornment beyond the actual necessities, and the bright, cheerful one with snowy curtains, neatly drawn shades, and windows and front steps or porch-according to whether it lies in town or country-all a-bloom?

Perhaps the greatest and most effective decoration which can be devised for the house in summer-or in winter as well, it may be said-is that of window boxes. These should be considered in the selection of the awnings, for it is of prime importance that their color and that of the flowers in the windows, should be in harmony. In winter, of course, the choice is simple, since awnings are not to be considered, and since the color scheme of the boxes must be green, and flowering plants cannot be used. In our northern latitudes, at least as far north as New York, it may be added that no plant will bear the rigor of the entire winter, unless it be exceptionally mild. Snow if brushed off box trees and dwarf shrubs as soon as it has fallen will make them turn brown less quickly than if it be allowed to stand; but even so, he who fills winter window boxes in the north must be content to see the plants die in February or early March, and for this reason the real plant lover will be likely to pass by this addition, charming though it be, to his winter's decorations.

But for summer? Consider first your color scheme. This will be carried out in awnings and window boxes, and must also be borne in mind in connection with the furnishings. If, for example, your porch furniture be green, and the outside woodwork of the house white, let the awnings be green and white, with the window boxes some prettily contrasting color-let us say pink or red-which may be duplicated in couch covers and cushions. If the furniture be brown, and the timbers of the house brown, awnings of red or orange will be in order, while the window boxes should be in red or yellow. With white enamel, or natural wicker, furniture, awnings striped in deep blue are excellent, and the window boxes should correspond to them in tone as nearly as possible. Other combinations of color, equally good, will suggest themselves according to the circumstances which prevail.

The boxes should be as large as possible, to ensure sufficient nourishment for the plants, and should not be filled too full, to admit of ample development. Holes should be bored in the bottom of each, to allow the escape of excessive moisture. The soil should be well fertilized, since, at best, the plants will have none too much space from which to draw their food. They should also be kept well cultivated, for in hot weather the earth will tend to shrink away from the sides of the box, and water given the plants will otherwise escape by this opening rather than through the earth. Ample watering, by the way, as well as sunlight, is the secret of window box success.

The geranium is the most popular of all plants for window box culture, and no wonder. It is hardy until the arrival of cold weather, free blooming, and will bear considerable neglect, although responding splendidly to kind treatment. It is now grown in many lovely shades, foreign to the stiff, old-fashioned flower, and is a real addition to any window. Many of the annuals also make good window box material, while the tender plants, such as the begonia and the calceolaria, are also valuable for use of this kind.

Generally speaking, boxes are more effective if trailing and erect plants be alternated in the filling. The vinca may be mentioned as among the best of the former, and suited to any color combination. Other plants may be selected after the gardener's fancy, care being taken to avoid those which tend to become "leggy" and overgrown. A mixture of perfumed blossoms will also give added charm to the boxes, especially when the windows are open, and the scented air is wafted through them into the house.

If flowers are selected which will not bloom for the entire season, care should be taken to set in the same box others, as is done with indoor boxes in the winter, which will carry on the work of flowering after the first are gone. In this way the box will never be without color. The life of every plant, of course, may be prolonged by careful plucking off of the seed pods as the flowers fade.

Here are a few suggestions for window boxes of different hues:

PINK

A. Beaute Poitevine geraniums and vinca vines.

B. Pink begonia, pink and white bellis, pink verbena.

C. Pink and white fuchsia, pink ivy geranium.

D. Pink antirrhinum, pink asters, pink Phlox Drummondii.

YELLOW

A. French marigold, yellow nasturtiums. B. Yellow begonia, wallflower, portulaca. C. Calceolaria, vinca vines.

RED

A. Dwarf cockscomb, coleus, crimson dark red sweet William.

B. Crimson geranium, trailing fuchsia, antirrhinum.

C. Salvia, scarlet geranium, wild cucumber.

BLUE

A. Heliotrope, ageratum, purple vernena.

B. Petunia, coleus, ageratum, heliotrope.

C. Purple morning glory, single petunia.

WHITE

A. White antirrhinum, sweet alyssum, white maurandia.

B. White bellis, white aster, white pansy.

There are, of course, infinite variations of these ideas, which can be carried out with due regard to individual needs. There are no fast rules in window box gardening, as there are not in any other. I have seen, in certain parts of the city, sunflowers growing successfully in window boxes, and admired the wise thought of their owner, who shut out the squalid street from his sight by a solid wall of green reaching the entire length of his window. Vines may be-used in the same way, to shut out an unpleasant view. The latitude permitted by the window box is at times amazing. As the amateur progresses, he will work out more elaborate combinations for his tiny window garden, and combine shades into a harmonious whole, instead of clinging to the more simple formula' which satisfied him at first, and will in time work out original and striking color schemes of his own. All the chances of success are largely in his favor, and he will find that his small-scale gardening is giving him as much pleasure and nearly as thorough an acquaintance with his flowers, and with others which he longs to know, as his neighbor has, whose gardening is done on a far larger scale.



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