Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side


One Window box – Four Ways

I don’t typically read fashion magazines, but living with a teenage daughter means a stack of them are usually lying around the house in one room or another.

While I can usually pass them by without feeling the urge to read about ‘The Top 10 Must-Have Heels For Summer’, I’ll admit I’m a sucker for titles such as ‘10 Ways to Wear 1 Dress‘.

So with a slightly different twist, here’s my version, where the star isn’t the little black dress, but a copper and iron window box.

1.  Hummingbird Haven

Fuchsia procumbens 'Creeping Fuchsia'

This is one of my favorite combinations, as the window box is at the base of a narrow window that I have in my kitchen, allowing me to discreetly spy on all the hummingbirds that visit while cooking dinner.

A few of their favorite nectar-rich plants are:

‘Little Lanterns’ columbine

Trailing ‘Creeping Fuchsia’ with its tiny fluorescent flowers

Lemon Slice’ Million Bells, dwarf Zinnias and Lobelia

2.  Delightful & Drought-Tolerant


Last summer I planted the same window box as above with colors in soft pastel shades of silver, pink, and yellow.

The emphasis here was creating a serene color combination using plants that would require very little water.

Hands down, the star of this window box is the ptilotus ‘Joey’, with its feathery pale pink flowers tipped with silver ,and a tiny little spot of bright pink.

It’s the perfect companion plant to neighboring low-water succulents, echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’ and euphorbia myrsinites.

In fact, most people kill poor Joey with kindness, giving him much more water than he’d ever need.

And when the ‘Topsy Turvy’ blooms it’s a veritable hummingbird feast. Colorful salmon and pink flowers slowly unfurl on long, slender stalks that last for weeks, adding a burst of color to this otherwise tranquil color combination

3.  Cool Blues & Purples

Keeping the same echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’ and euphorbia myrsinites in the window box (see above),  I decided to mix it up a bit by including rich and vibrant colors in the blue, magenta, and burgundy families.

I’ll admit at first I wasn’t a huge fan of the dark burgundy/brown foliage of the ornamental oxalis ‘Zinfandel’ combined with the stock’s magenta flowers and the silver-blue of the echeveria.

In an attempt to find a unifying color (and to emphasize the yellow oxalis flowers) I included chartreuse in the form of the Creeping Jenny (lysimachia).

But once the euphorbia decided to bloom I was thrilled with the entire color combination.

Isn’t it funny how adding a certain color can tie everything together again?

4.  Echoes in the Shade

When I bought the first window box, I loved it so much I bought another and mounted it on a north-facing wall on my office.

I wanted this box to look good every day of the year, so instead of focusing on flowers, I focused on creating foliage color echoes.

By using echoes found in the various elements of plants (stems, flowers and foliage) there’s sure to be color in every season.


Burgundy tones are found in just about every plant in this window box:

– the stems of the crassula ‘Calico Kitten’ succulent

– the new foliage of the Rosy Maidenhair Fern  (adiantum hispidulum)

– the tiny little flowers of this fuchsia thymifolia

– the stems of the ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea

RefreshYourGardenDesignColor echoes, Correcting a Color Combination, Color Palettes are but a small sampling of what I write about in my new book  ‘Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form‘.

And I’m thrilled to let you know that it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon!

After designing hundreds of gardens over the past 15 years, I wanted to write a book focused on helping others become their own garden designer.

By breaking down traditional garden design principles into easy-to-understand and, more importantly, easy-to-implement solutions you’ll not only learn how to identify what has gone wrong with your garden, but how to fix the problem.

All the while simultaneously transforming your garden into a rich and layered tapestry.

I am very proud of this book and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

29 Responses to One Window box – Four Ways

  1. Your windowboxes are breathtakingly beautiful – just like everything else in your garden. I’m so excited to hear about this book and will be getting it for sure! Can’t wait!

    • Thank you so much, Greenwords, and so nice to hear from you – its been awhile! I hope life is good for you healthwise and otherwise? I was talking with some Australian friends the other day and thought of you!

  2. Hey Rebecca, I’m Begi, a retired Delta Flight Attendant living in Charleston, SC. I ran across your blog address last night and thought I’d check it out—what a wonderful blog!
    I’m not a MG or anything…just garden loving fool..((^_^)) I look forward to your book release. I have so many questions…. I planted a small vegetable garden and a small flower garden this spring for the first time. So far I’ve had fresh homegrown tomatoes (since Mother’s Day), cucumbers, yellow and zucchini squash, bell and banana peppers! Oh, some strawberries too. However what I have the most of is questions!
    I felt compelled to share my excitement of finding you as my new best friend!!
    Begi ((^_^))

    • How nice to meet another ‘garden loving fool’, Begi! 😉 I’m happy to hear about your garden successes – I can’t believe you have tomatoes already! Mine are marble sized, green and hard as a rock. Soon, though, soon. Sounds like you’re definitely doing something right out there in Charleston!!

  3. I took down the “window” box (actually it was between 2 windows) because I have really wide eaves and the area beneath seldom gets wet. What can you plant in a situation like that? The previous owners were “growing” silk flowers in it when I bought it.

    • Hi Diane – all of my window boxes are under eaves as well. One of them relies on me hand-watering them, but since it’s located right outside of my kitchen window it’s unlikely that I’ll forget since I see it every time I walk in the kitchen. The other one, however, is hooked up to irrigation, with the tubing running discreetly up the back of the box, hidden by the trailing plants (ivy and succulents). If you’re unable to irrigate yours, then succulents are the way to go as they’re so darn tough and if they’re not in the full baking sun can go without water for several days (sometimes weeks) at a time. They’re very forgiving! If you’re trying not to have any water drip down on the surface below, can you place another container under the window box to catch the run-off? There’ll still be draining water, only not quite as much.

  4. Congrats on the new book, Rebecca! How exciting! I love the different looks for your window box, and I’m not sure I could even pick a favorite. Sometimes you just need to try out all the looks, one right after the other, right?

    • Thanks, Pam! I love window boxes precisely because I can so easily change them whenever I feel like it (versus my garden which is not so easy). They’re like wardrobe accessories, in a way 😉

  5. I can’t wait to get my hands on your new book! Congratulations!
    And thank you for the great window box ideas.

  6. As always, no matter what you do in your garden it is always so perfect. You have just motivated me to do more window boxes. My biggest challenge is the watering although since I have incorporated Succulents in to my garden and containers, it has been more fun than work. Thanks for the inspiration Rebecca.

    • Laura – I have no doubt you’ll create a fantastic succulent window box!! And when you do, please send a pic (or better yet invite me for iced tea so I can finally see your gorgeous garden!!) 😉

  7. I just redid my windowboxes which get blasting heat in the late afternoon because they’re west-facing. I planted succulents of course. But even if I weren’t “the succulent queen” they’re a great problem-solving plant for hot, dry locations. Previously I’d had geraniums (zonal and ivy) which looked great for a while but then got leggy. Any thoughts on challenging locations for windowboxes? How much sun exposure do yours get?

    • Well, Succulent Queen, you’re definitely doing what I’d do if I had a box in the full, blazing sun. And yours is even worse because it gets the reflective heat from your driveway and stucco wall – triple whammy! I think succulents and cacti would be about the only thing that would thrive in that location. Good thing we love succulents so much, right?? I’m lucky because one of my boxes is in morning sun and the other is in full shade.

  8. Your next book…congratulations! When is it going to be published?

    I love to put plants together, and I am learning everyday. One thing though, it is a time consuming activity to maintain containers, they only last one year and they need to be redone. Since I hate throwing plants away I have few containers that need to be replanted and not having enough time, they are looking rather unattractive.

    I hope to see you presenting your book to the Marin Master Gardeners.

    • Hi Laura – it’ll be published this September (yay!). Just like I told Becky (below) I always include something that stays evergreen in my containers or window boxes because, like you, who has the time to constantly fuss with them?? My shady window box is evergreen year-round (or nearly so) and I haven’t had to replant anything in several years. I can’t believe how it thrives on neglect!! I hope to see you at another MG meeting, too!! Are you going on the Marin Garden Conservancy tours this year??? They’re coming up, I believe….

      • Rebecca, I think the tour is this Saturday.

        Good idea about always having an evergreen planter. I think I need to change plant selection because some plants don’t work well in my containers. Oh well….

        There is MG event this Fall, maybe I will see if they still need presenter, you could come and give a talk with your new book….

  9. I fear I can only dream of putting together planters that look as gorgeous as these! I never seem to get the mix right. I better pre-order your book, too. Thanks for sharing these incredible photos. They really are inspirational.

    • Thanks for the nice comment,Becky, but I know you can do it!! I rarely plant containers using only perennials or annuals, preferring to mix in something that’s evergreen and beautiful year-round (the succulents, ferns and fuchsia in my case). Maybe that little tip can help tie everything together for your planters?

  10. Amazing! I’ve never been a big fan of window boxes, but these take it to a whole new level! Also I think the fuchsia could be Fuchsia thymifolia.

  11. What good timing for this article, dear friend. You gave me some thoughts for a new client that loves pinks, purples and whites but no yellows! It will be an interesting challenge to do about 12 sun containers without yellow! As always, you inspire me.
    Excuse me though, I’ve gotta go and pre-order you new book. Have a good rest of your week!