Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Shop v. Seed June 11, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Seeds,Spring,Summer — northernwindowgardener @ 7:25 am
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Hot Pink PetuniaA few weeks ago as I was preparing to plant everything up I thought I’d end up with about 80% home grown and 20% shop bought. There were some plants I just hadn’t been able to find seed for (not that I was trying too hard – I had enough to be getting on with given this was my first time!) like petunia surfinia (a trailing petunia), bacopa and trailing verbena. But having had a fair amount of success with seeds I thought that my crop would be enough to fill my boxes handsomely.

When it came to plant everything it still seemed like that split would be about right. But once everything was planted up and it became apparent that some of them were likely to be hit and miss (the aster and sweet pea in particular looked like they had a 50/50 chance of survival) and some of the boxes looked a bit bare. (more…)


Keeping Up Appearances June 10, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weather — northernwindowgardener @ 2:56 pm
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JoelDoesn’t time fly? Luckily at this time of year, with a fair (and slight) wind and a bit of sun, nature just keeps working away while we get on with other things.

It’s been about three weeks since all the window boxes were planted up and those original inhabitants have had the chance to bed in to their new surroundings.

Mostly they have settled in well. The geraniums on both the shady and sunny side of the house are fattening up and look well set to flower when the time is right. When is the right time though? I’m so impatient with them as they look at least as strong as those garden centre varieties. (more…)


Pestilence May 28, 2009

Filed under: Info,pests,Spring — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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The GatheringYou might not be able to see them in this small picture but I can assure you that there are hundreds of aphids making a good living on the leaves of these crocus plants. This was one of many reasons why this particular box was completely cleaned out – with the plants thrown away and the box itself given a good scrub.

Being some distance off the ground slugs and snails haven’t been a bother. But aphids really took a liking to the crocuses and sadly they’ve also migrated onto the brachycome seedlings then onto the verbena.

They really are very sneaky and I have trouble seeing them at first. But once you see one you know there are likely to be more. The underside of young leaves seem to be a favourite haunt. I wonder if the soil I used last year could have been the source of them as when I went to use the remainder there were lots of black flies in the bag – which wasn’t a happy discovery. Needless to say it was thrown out immediately but the damage may have been done.

I generally try to steer clear of chemical remedies so after reading this useful article on aphid control I’ve been knocking them off with a handy cotton bud and will move on to some soap solution if that doesn’t work. It looks like it will be a constant battle of wills though as they multiply at an incredible rate if left alone.


Planting .. Maggie May 27, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Info,Review,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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O'ConnellI shouldn’t really admit to having favourites but Maggie was my first window box and sits proudly on the longest window ledge in the house, facing front and looking out on the world. This position gets a gentle touch of morning sun but from late morning only benefits from reflected light rather than direct sun. If I was more experienced I’d be able to tell you what flowers would be best for this type of spot but I’m not, so it still trial and error for this year.

At 30″ inches long it’s also one of the two (along with Chris) big boxes and you can really pack the plants into them. Even with all my seed growing since January there still wasn’t enough good quality plants to cover all the boxes but Maggie had to get her fair share.



Planting … Chris May 23, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Info,Review,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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The Line-upI really do feel a bit bad for Chris. Out there on his own ledge, doing his own thing, travelling the path less travelled. And in this case, getting a random mix of everything that wasn’t getting used somewhere else.

The phrase ‘runt of the litter’ might be a bit harsh but the reality is that this is where all the strong, well-developed plants ran out. No geraniums, marigolds or shop-bought plants here. Instead it was a rather sad mix of verbena, asters, sweet pea and brachycome – none of which looked truly ready to flourish outdoors.

Unfortunately for them, and for Chris, this has become my experimental box. The remaining seedlings were basically split 50/50 between being planted outside and remaining indoors on the sunny ledge. We’ll see how they compare in a couple of weeks.



Planting … Holling May 22, 2009

Filed under: Accessories,Colour,Flower,Indoor,Info,Review,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:00 am
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Holling We’ll start off with a prettier picture this time as there’s only so much scratchy handwriting that’s interesting.

Here 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 folksy locations and they really are a joy to look at.

This blog however is the ‘warts and all’ variety of gardening so here we are, at the end of lots of planning, growing and tlc, and yet it still looks like a bunch of plants have been hapharzardly thrown into a plastic container. Ho hum!



Planting the Window Boxes II May 19, 2009

Petunia SurfiniaHaving gathered everything together, and concocted a planting scheme, the next step was to systematically work my way through each box, trying not to mix everything up on the way.

Counting all the possible seedlings and plants, I had 105 plants at my disposal, six of which were shop-bought. The geraniums and marigold, which had been on the go for the longest time, were quite sturdy and matched up well to the purchased plants. Others like the verbena, brachycome and nasturium were much smaller and leggier.

This made me wonder whether I was doing the right thing in planting them now but I didn’t think they were going to improve much more being kept inside rather than being outside and having time to root properly so these five plants made up the core of my planting scheme. Overall I knew I needed about 75 plants so the remaining ones would be kept as spares and will provide a comparison in terms of development. (more…)