Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Book: Window Boxes January 30, 2009

Filed under: Flower,Review — northernwindowgardener @ 6:26 pm
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Stephanie Donaldson Window Boxes – Stephanie Donaldson

Cost: Around £10.

The back cover describes this, amongst other things, as:

50 step-by-step planting projects for beautiful window boxes, with over 700 photographs

and for once I’d say the content matches the blurb. At a little short of 100 pages, this hard-back book gives the less experienced gardener a crash course in putting together a wide range of window boxes. Whether it’s for a country cottage or a city pad, there’s a bunch of ideas that will serve as a starting point to growing your own windox box.

It’s written in the style of a very simple cookbook, only the ingredients are plants and there no need to dig out a set of scales or convert metric to imperial measures. There’s a list of materials you’ll need, the plants that will be used then very simple instructions as to how to put it together, all accompanied by pictures of each step.

The first dozen or so pages have general information on sowing from seed, potting on, etc, as well as basic hints about watering and pest control. These will be self-evident for anyone who has done a bit of gardening but for the complete novice they are really simple and easy to follow instructions.

This part also touches on things like watering, types of compost as well as the look and attributes of the different materials used for window boxes. The information is basic but it’s a good starting point and the web is there if you want to go into more depth about any of these subjects.

The six chapters that make up the guts of the book cover different themes, namely: colour boxes (21 examples), edible (7), scented (5), seasonal (5), difficult spots (4) and inspirational (7). As an aside that adds up to 49 (and I’ve counted twice) although I’ll forgive them the extra one the book blurb claims to provide.

Each example follows the same pattern. There’s a good sized picture of the finished box in situ, a brief description of some aspect of the box (like if it has trailing plants that will be good to cover cheaper looking boxes), a list of materials such as the type and size of box used along with what compost, and finally the plant list.

Then there are separate mini-images of each plant, usually in their individual pots and the step-by-step instructions that take you from lining or filling the box with compost, to the order and placement of each plant.  Each step has an easy-to-see image of what has been done. There’s also some handy hints covering things like dead-heading or pinching out and a line saying what season the box is planted in.

If I was being critical I would say that there’s not much information on how the boxes respond to different conditions, except of course the limited chapter about difficult spots. Some people may also find the range of plants to be a little on the boring side but I quite liked the restricted range and felt that most plants were something I could pick up locally.

The only other criticism is that some of the examples rely on having an ornate or very appropriate windox box. But that’s a minor point and doesn’t detract from the quality of the book.

The photography is excellent throughout and with about 80% of the book being visual it really needs to be. I also really like that the finished boxes are shown complete and in an appropriate environment. This gives an honest impression of how they should look, albeit this is them at their best.

As you can tell I really like the book. It’s the type that I can see myself picking up again and again to get inspiration and refresh my memory on how certain plants look. So if you’re new to window boxes or just want some good ideas, I’d thoroughly recommend picking up this little gem.


4 Responses to “Book: Window Boxes”

  1. Flighty Says:

    I enjoyed reading this review, and if I was looking for a book about window boxes I would have no hesitation in following up your recommendation to get a copy!
    It’s always good to find a gem like this which becomes a favourite read and a helpful reference.

  2. Glo Says:

    Hi again ~ I left a comment on your “About” page as that’s where Flighty’s link landed me 😉 As I said in my comment, I love window boxes and have five of them. I enjoyed reading about your informative book. I have a small pocket book on Window Boxes by David Squire ~ with the subtitle ‘an imaginative guide to creating seasonal interest in small places’. Although it doesn’t have any photos except for the front cover, there are labelled drawings which I find helpful. I also have a drawing of plantings for window boxes made for me by a plant nursery gardener, which I will have to look out. Looking forward to sharing more posts with you re window boxes 🙂

  3. northernwindowgardener Says:

    @ Flighty – I’m a sucker for clear instructions and good pictures and this book delivers on both.

    @ Glo – welcome and thanks for reading! Book subtitles are frequently misleading but not so in this case. At this stage any pics or drawings that help guide my thoughts are very useful.

  4. […] we have the finished window box which looks an awful lot scrappier than the lovely ones in the window box book I reviewed a while back. That book has lots of healthy, upright and flowering plants pictured in […]

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