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Sometimes the best view isn’t what you see through a window but what you see underneath it.

Window boxes are a great way to add color and fragrance to what sometimes can be a plain looking window. Not only are they aesthetically appealing, they are practical too; having a raised-bed garden allows the contents to be within reach and easily assessable.

Window boxes are ideal for small, shallow-rooted plants such as marigolds, impatiens, pansies, begonias, and herbs such as parsley, basil, sage and thyme.

Before buying any plants, or even the container, you need to decide where your window box will be placed. Like windows plants rely on geological positioning, this ensures optimal growth.  Some combinations to try are:

  • For shade: Japanese painted fern, miniature blue-leafed hosta, asparagus fern and one dramatic caladium
  • For part-shade: Pink verbena, white and pink impatiens, tri-colored sweet potato vine, white bacopa
  • For part sun: Purple heliotrope, yellow trailing snapdragon, white lantana, English ivy, Australian fanflower, pale yellow petunia, blue Nierembergia
  • For part to full sun: Trailing rosemary, culinary sage, chives, flat-leafed parsley, small ornamental kale
  • For sun: Golden creeping Jenny, yellow French marigolds, yellow-and-white variegated coleus, bidens

Fox, Beckie. “Secrets of winning window boxes.”

Canadian Gardening. TC Media. N.p. Web. 29 March 2013.

When choosing a container keep proportion in mind.  If you decide to have your box sit atop your ­window make sure it fills the length of the ledge, if the box is too short will look skimpy.  The same goes for a box hanging below a window; however, if you have the space it could even extend beyond the width of your window for a more lavish look. Options to consider when choosing your window box are:

  • Plastic: While lightweight and versatile, they aren’t the most visually pleasing option.  Also, dark colored plastic can heat up in the sun, which may cause plant roots to cook. However, fill your plastic window box full of trailing plants and both problems can be solved.
  • Metal: Lightweight and attractive, but like plastic, has poor insulation for plants.
  • Wood: Wood offers good insulation, and can be custom-made therefore, giving you the option for size and color.

Remember, the fancier your window box, the simpler the planting should be.  Most window boxes should be arranged with a combination of trailing and upright plants.  Depending on the size of the container usually four or five types of plants is enough.  But don’t just rely on flowers, foliage plants offer an array of textures and shapes. When planting the focus should be on balance, not symmetry, this will create a more graphic, dramatic look.

Learn how to build your own window box by visiting http://www.hgtv.com/handmade/how-to-build-a-window-box/index.html