It’s been nearly three years since I planted my first city window box. I bought my narrow teak box on a whim one afternoon and then prowled around Brooklyn looking for plant sales and nurseries stocked with starts to fill it with. James and I planted the box with friends on the double-wide sidewalk that stretched in front of their apartment. Down the block, elderly Italian men sitting in lawn chairs saluted our attempts at green thumbery with their cigars. After dark we strapped the filled up box to the back of my bike and walked the precious cargo fifteen blocks home.
Since then I’ve added another window box and a few small pots to the collection and moved the whole gangly mess down the street and up four flights. I’m waiting until there’s a little more variety at the market to fill up my window boxes, but since I’ve been hankering for a little splash of color outside the window, I decided to pot up a cheery early planter with flowers meant to last through the summer.
At four dollars a pot, it’s easy for me to measure my annual tiny garden investments in lattes not ordered and feel a little better about where my few extra dollars are going. But I still want my plants to pull their weight. And when you only have a tiny garden, it’s kind of nice to have it be one that stays in bloom. This week, I stopped by the farmers’ market to search for plants with plenty of flowers but that can still thrive in part shade. When we moved to our new apartment last winter we gained a big window ledge and four flights, but we lost even the few hours of truly direct sunlight we had in our old place. It’s not truly shady up here, but there’s also not much in the way of bright white sun beating down on our north-facing ledge. Last summer’s plantings suffered through a little bit of new-apartment trial and error coupled with a little bit of brand-new-baby-in-the-house-related neglect. (Lavender, for example, was very wishful thinking.)
This year I chose my favorite salmon-colored geraniums, a white euphorbia which should billow out in no time, a variegated plectranthus for a little green and a little intrique, and a bright white trailing bacopa. The geraniums I added to my window box last summer just after Faye was born did the best of anything I planted (and lasted well into early fall), so I’m shooting for a repeat.
Delicate-looking euphorbia is always one of my favorite window box plants, and with enough water I’ve found it’s really hardy and goes gangbusters pretty quickly. Finally, I got proactive about pest control. As part of my ongoing effort to terrorize the neighborhood squirrel (just kidding!), I sprinkled cayenne pepper along the edge of my pot and on the geranium leaves to discourage too much snacking. When I finally got around to doing it last summer, it worked like a charm, so here’s hoping.
Now: what are you guys planting?