Monday, March 28, 2016

opinions invited

Your input is requested on my next project.

As you may recall, there are windows on the west and south walls of the porch. Three windows on the west wall; four on the south. Even as I was measuring for these windows, I was planning to put up windowboxes beneath them. Because they will get SUN!

Please pardon the parallax in this distorted snap - it's the best I could find at the minute. If it wasn't dark right now, I'd step outside and get a better picture.

Last Spring, the windowboxes had to be postponed. This Spring, I am very determined to Make It Happen. And now is the time, before the gardens can be worked. It's going to take time and effort and trips to buy materials and...well, as slow as I am, I had better get cracking.

Will you please help with the planning?

All along I've been picturing individual white-painted wooden boxes filled with soil, each box supported by brackets attached directly to the walls. Sweet peas growing up! Nasturtiums dangling down! Herbs in the middle! Soooo pretty!

But now that it's time to get to work, I'm - of course - thinking of other options. For example, I've been told plastic is by far the best material for gardening containers because it maintains more moisture for the plants. The non-rotting feature of plastic could be pretty useful too, considering all the water that goes into windowboxes.

Expense? Well, no matter what plastic boxes would cost, it would probably have to be cheaper than building wooden boxes and then painting them, probably with multiple coats of...I don't know, some kind of enamel, or marine paint? I haven't researched the paint yet.

(Sidenote: I have a terrible record as far as painting wood goes. Every time something is built of wood here (by me or by real carpenters) I think, "This time I will paint it. Some cheerful color. It will be so pretty!" And every single time, when the item is built, I look at it and think, "Wood is so beautiful." And I don't want to paint it. So I don't. I honestly cannot remember the last time I applied paint to unfinished wood.)

So, the first question is, the material for the boxes:

Next, do I really want seven individual boxes on wooden brackets attached to the house? There are good alternatives. For example, I could build a shelf or slatted rack the length of each wall below the windows, and put the boxes - or even pots - on the shelves. Flexible for future arrangements.
Or, I could build a tall, freestanding bench in front of each wall, and use the benches to hold the boxes. The only advantage I can think of, is that this option puts space between boxes and walls, which might prevent staining of the porch walls from rainwater splashing or draining from the boxes. The most difficult aspect would be leveling the benches at the start (leveling a lawn chair takes effort here), and annual adjustment after frost heaves.

So, the second question is the overall design:
Seven traditional boxes on wall brackets?
Two long shelves on wall brackets, holding boxes?
Two long freestanding benches, ditto?

Please feel free to weigh in on these questions! Most if not all of you have much more experience than I do with successfully growing plants. And I'll bet many if not most of you grow plants in windowboxes or planters or containers of some kind, and I'll bet they look fabulous. Please share your wisdom and ideas! Thanks!

Sambucus would like to see windowboxes on the barns.
"Just about chin-height, please!"