When I was just barely in my twenties, I rented a small house in San Francisco, just two blocks from the beach. The house was modest and plain, but had a small front yard with little else growing besides an abundance of cineraria, a lovely perennial with purple-magenta daisy like flowers. My house had a porch and two windows facing the street, under which were a couple of dilapidated windowbox planters, with nothing inside of them, not even dirt. I found my new house to be charming. Not having enjoyed the luxury of a garden in previous third-story Victorian apartments, I was delighted at this diamond in the rough. It just needed a little TLC to make it come alive.
My first improvement was filling those window box planters. However, my budget was as modest as the house and I wanted maximum results for my money. A natural beginning were those window boxes. Some soil and a few flowers and I would be happy.
Daffodils and tulips first sprang to mind, since it was early winter when I took up residency. These flowers were easily planted to add lots of spring colors to enjoy in a few months. Visualizing a burst of sunshiny colors surrounding the front door was a cinch. I quickly set my mind for planning the summer flowers for my window box planters, shortly after I planted my bulbs. However, the San Francisco beach area is fairly restrictive when considering various plant life. What with fog, fog and even more fog, the climate was considerably more depressing when you consider that everything about the house was gray. Yes, gray walls, gray roof and even gray window planter boxes. Those before me, I decided had absolutely no imagination at all.
I decided to use magenta paint for the front door, the trim and the window boxes. It looked so much better! While this also made the cineraria stand out very nicely, while livening up the houses exterior, considerably.
I was pleased when the daffodils and tulips began to spring up and bloom. By this time I already knew what I would be planting for the summer and fall, which complimented the color of my windowbox planter. Then very carefully, I inter-planted purple and magenta fuchsias and begonias between each bulb, while throwing in some trailing azure lobelias, just for the heck of it. These new residents were well on their way, since they were thriving in their moist and overcast environment, by the time the bulbs died back in the summer. I decided to add a variegated coleus to bringing more color play. My visitors complimented me on this breathtaking color display.
As fall turned to winter, white, red and pink cyclamens replaced the summer residents. The begonias came inside to sit out the winter in pots. Meanwhile, spider plants and ferns started populating the underside of the porch’s roof, hanging from their hooks like so many ballroom belles. It’s absolutely amazing what a couple of four foot window box planters can do.