What brings to mind the cozy look of a cottage more than a window box? At least that's what I thought when we first moved into our small cottage-esque starter home so many years ago. While our house is not quaint or very special on its own, adding a large custom built window box made it feel more like the cottage inspired home and garden we were looking for.
My love of the cottage look is in the small collection of flower beds surrounding our home. I define cottage-style as a loose, informal grouping of classic annual flowers reminiscent of times gone by. I don't stick with any strict rules that they have to be cottage flowers, but it's more of an unconstrained, informal type planting. No orderly plantings here, but only what feels like you would find in a field of wildflowers. So here is some loose guidelines for you to plant your own amazing cottage style window box.
1. Start with a great loose soil that is has potting soil and a mix of perilite, vermiculite or other soil lightener.
Great soil is always key when container planting. You want something that has good drainage, is light yet is able to retain enough moisture that you don't have to water constantly. I have to admit I reuse my soil year after year and freshen it up with every new planting. I've yet to have any problems with soil disease (thankfully) and it has saved me lots of $$$. You can decide if you want to do this...the flowers I plant are very hardy and as you can see, it doesn't affect their growth.
2. Choose plants that are tall, medium and spreading.
Here I have Tall Ageratum in the back, Black and Blue Salvia in the middle section alone. I also have Zinnia "White Profusion" on the ends with begonias tucked in here and there for a shot of bright color.
This is basic when planting a one sided container. Tall growers in the back and medium or spreading plants in the front depending on the growing space in your box. It's important to use "untidy" flowers in order to get that free form cottage look. Really read your flower labels and check out other planters in the garden center to get ideas from what they've created. Don't be afraid to ask them what plants they used when you find something you like.
3. Try to use some unusual or uncommon flowers in your box and fill in with less expensive flowers.
The salvias are a bit pricey, but I find I only need two of them to fill out the box. They grow quickly and I don't have to wait long for the box itself to become lush with flowers. I like to buy flats of other easy to grow and common flowers to use in the box and my other containers.
I also like to "overplant" my flowers in order to get them to fill in quickly. I can do this when the flowers aren't overly expensive. Impatiens and begonias are flower varieties that fill out quickly and are great for shade.
4. Look for butterfly and hummingbird flower varieties.
The salvia I use every year because they attract hummingbirds like crazy. I would much rather plant flowers to attract them than use feeders as I don't want to keep up the feeders. I know it sounds lazy, but what can I say...I'm being honest!
These salvia get quite tall and the first year I planted them I was embarrassed by their height. However, once the hummingbirds came, I was all about these beauties. By planting such tall flowers, I have a great view of them AND the wildlife from inside the house. The ageratum and zinnia attract lots of butterflies too.
5. Be sure to use a long term fertilizer followed by a liquid fertilizer.
This is essential for a beautiful window box. Fertilize ( I use an organic one) and water daily once summer's heat hits. My early flower box plantings were less than impressive until I talked to a friend who had a beautiful box. I asked her the secret and she said to fertilize it. Simple enough but so important to get that lush growth and amazing blooms that make your garden really stand out.
That's it. Nothing too complicated but so wonderful to look at. My favorite thing to plant every year is our double window flower box. I always like to imagine what it will look like year after year as I tend to experiment with flower choices (except the salvia).
Hope this inspires you to be creative this year with your plantings. Have fun!
What's your favorite cottage -style flower?
For more on flower plantings, check out my post...Container Plant How-To's
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