Last updated on March 29th, 2012
Potted plants, strewn like confetti all over the house…or grouped together in a window garden? The decision is yours. For my own limited space, a window garden, as you may have guessed, offers unlimited appeal.
Any ordinary window can become a garden, once it has been outfitted for the dramatic containment of plants. Shall we start with the windowsill?
Sill. Most windowsills are pathetically narrow. You might find room there for an unimaginative row of tiny pots and their saucers, but there isn’t enough space for the creative arrangement of plants. The easiest and also the cheapest solution to a narrow sill is a foot-wide board, painted or stained to compliment the window frame, and braced at each end with shelf supports. Or, perhaps an attractive piece of furniture can be found that matches the height of the existing sill. In one of my window gardens, a pine cabinet fulfills this role; in another, a painted bookcase makes a broad surface for plants.
When a plant picture is confined to the windowsill alone, it seems inadequate. For it resembles a one-line drawing. A real window garden must be a complete horticultural portrait. As in classical landscape design, vertical elements are necessary to generate eye movement.
Shelves. Glass shelves add a vertical dimension, and thus draw the eyes upward. Three shelves are generally adequate for the average window. Align one shelf with the latch ledge above the windowsill, and another at the midway point between the two. Position the third shelf an equal distance above the latch ledge.
I should warn you that heavy, tempered glass is very expensive – often $100.00 per shelf. But you can ask your glass cutter to use salvage glass of a half-inch thickness. This will reduce the cost to about $10.00 per shelf. Non-tempered glass is fine – I use it.
Brackets. Mounted to the window frame, brackets are useful accessories for holding pots of trailing or spreading plants that require a “perch” of some sort. I favor old, cast-iron kerosene lamp holders to support my vines, holiday cacti, scented geraniums and cascading petunias. You can find these highly decorative brackets for auction at Ebay.
Staples and wire. The window garden, like any “Still Life with Plants,” deserves a suitable frame. Philodendron and grape-ivy are my favorite “framers.” I give them something to climb by stringing wire along three sides of the window frame. Two-inch staples, hammered part-way into the window frame, keep the wire in place. The potted vines are placed at each end of the uppermost shelf, where they climb and join together at the top.
A broad sill, glass shelves, brackets and wire — these are the architectural components of a window garden with unlimited decorative value. And whatever your view is beyond the window — rain, snow, or a busy street — you will see it through a springtime setting of fragrant flowers, climbing vines, and lush, graceful greenery.
Is a window garden in your future? You can let me know by posting a comment below.
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