Gourd(geous) Window Boxes
It’s that time of year again, when the nights become cooler and the hazy, hot and humid days are long gone. The fresh crisp air kicks me back into action and reminds me there is work to be done in the garden. Each year I look forward to my autumn chores as they offer me great inspiration to maximize textures and explore exciting new applications, all while tending to the garden, and motivated—of course—by the beauty around me. When it comes to decorating my home for fall, I never lose sight of the importance of autumn's bounty of color, textures and supplies, all available to create a stylish, fresh, seasonal look for just about anywhere.
This year I looked at my window boxes, hoping for divine inspiration and not knowing where to seek it, and when I spied the packages of gourds and pumpkins recently purchased it all just came to me.
I have always found a well-appointed window box can add great style to any home, regardless what time of year—spring, summer, winter or fall, it’s the perfect accessory for your home to add a touch of style. Making the most of these “miniature gardens” year-round may be difficult at first, but in time and with your experience—and of course my help—you’ll be updating your boxes like the pro’s using the right combinations of flowers and other resources.
Regardless how large or small your window box may be, updating them on a seasonal schedule comes with a commitment. Your window box should represent a “window” into your own personal style, so this season why not get creative and discover interesting ways to freshen up the norm? With only a little time and commitment you are on your way.
Here are my best ideas for a fast and simple window box upgrade:
What you will need for a fall design:
- Several packages of disposable chopsticks
- A paring knife
- Dried Ornamental grasses such as Zebra grass
- Floral tape
- Sugar pumpkins
- Krylon clelar spray paint
- Small branches (I like Birch)
- Dwarf English Boxwood
Here in the North East we get harsh, cold months, so knowing that Old Man Winter is around the corner I always begin a window box with evergreen because it will last and last, then adding seasonal accents throughout the fall and winter, ending with adding seasonal annuals later in the Spring. This combination of the lush green foliage with a striking splash of color always starts the fall season with a splash. A sMARt tip: Choose a small, slow growing evergreen perennial for your window box as the anchor for your seasonal décor.
Ornamental grasses from your garden can be a perfect way for adding a whimsical touch. By simply trimming them down in the fall you’ll be promoting new growth in the spring, plus giving you a great supply of texture items to work with on your window box project. I bunch/gather several blades together, then use floral tape to secure the bunch to disposable chopsticks. (Yes, the kind you get when you order Chinese take-out food.) Insert the chopsticks into the soil to secure your grasses from moving. Over time the grass will dry and give great texture and a change of color. Don’t have floral tape? Lay two bunches of grasses horizontally behind your evergreen shrubs (one on each side) having the grass overflow your window box.
To give height, insert the branches upright in the back. In the photo I have created a fan-shape, but you can do whatever you like.
Now prepare the gourds and pumpkins for their place. To prevent rot and extend the life of the gourds, spray with the Krylon clear spray paint. It needs about 15 minutes to dry, but is worth the wait. You can do this step early or days before, it does not matter. When they are dry, use the paring knife to make holes in each: insert the knife tip and rotate it (in circular motion) creating a hole on the bottom or the side of the item. The hole should be just big enough to accommodate a chopstick. Insert the chopstick into the gourd (so now it should look like a lollypop), then secure the chopstick in the soil of the window box. Do multiple colors and textures for the best visual results. Each chopstick will keep your decorative collection in place. A sMARt tip: Angle each hole differently will allow you to vary the position of the gourds and pumpkins; some can even appear to be laying on their sides. This will give the look that they were simply tossed in and are suspended naturally.
What you will need for winter design:
• An assortment of fresh evergreens clippings (such as hemlock, holly, cypress, evergreen or juniper)
• Dried Hydrangeas
After Thanksgiving—around the first week in December—make your first switch in the window box design by involving them as part of your holiday décor. Begin by adding some live greenery such as hemlock, holly, cypress, evergreen or juniper clippings. These will hold their color and or needles through the winter months, making them a wonderful long-lasting way to welcome in the festivities. Cut the clippings about 12-24 inches and insert in the soil. A sMARt tip: If you live in a colder climate you may want to do this project a little earlier in the season before the soil freezes, as this will make it possible to still enter your clippings into the soil!
Now take some dried hyrangeas and insert into the soil as well by the stems. With the lush greenery backdrop the dried hydrangea flowers will add a fantastic pop of color and texture—you will love this look. This fabulous finishing touch will look great from inside your home as well. If you have followed my recipe on how to enjoy your hydrangea in the winter you’re in for a real treat.
Take these great ideas and make them your own. Do challenge yourself to do something with your empty, dull planters as well. My techniques easily turn them into another decorative focus for fall and beyond. I’ll come back to this after the holidays and pick up where we left off…how to update your window boxes for spring. No worries, I’ll have you ready for some creative planters ideas come then. In the meanwhile, fall in love with fall.
And there you have it.