Hostas in window boxes

It’s the time of year when I plant up my window boxes. This will be their 3rd summer season, after Mr MBaF very kindly made them for my birthday in 2014. 

The boxes on the dark, north-facing, front of the house have always presented me with a bit of a challenge.
Last year trailing fuschias performed fairly well, particularly outside the upstairs (bedroom) windows, so I’ll be using them again up there. 

But I’m taking a different approach in the darkest spot, outside the living room. 

I’m going for greens. 

I’ve been mulling over trying smaller-leaves hostas in there for a while. The challenge was that I know hostas like to have nice moist, rich, soil. But window boxes are prone to drying out, and already in the box are a couple of ferns, which like a lighter soil (I believe). 

My solution has been to try creating a micro-environment that suits the hostas. So, I cut a deep bottom off two 2 litre plastic milk cartons, filled them with garden compost and manure, and plunged them into position in the boxes. The milk carton bottoms have a rectangular cross-section, which fits perfectly into the window box. 

Then I split one of the smaller hostas from a collection I’ve been growing in a tin bath. Prizing the bugger from the bath was tricky, but splitting it was pretty easy – just a stomp down between the shoots, into the rootball, with my spade. 

I planted the hosta-halves on top of/in the manured milk cartons, topped up with multipurpose compost mixed with garden compost, and hey presto. 

I planted them a week or two ago, before any leaves had burst forth, and they’re already looking great. 

Alongside them are the ferns, trailing nepeta and silvery lamiums – which the bees love if they flower. 

Fingers crossed everyone plays nicely together and I have a verdent, fresh and jungly outlook from my living room all summer!


Seasonal container

One of this summer’s successes in the garden has been the hostas. 

A flexible copper tape around the planter, and moving their container away from the fence behind, has foiled the slimy critters that previously reduced them to green doilies.

They’ve looked near-perfect all season, and have flowered twice, but now they’re dying off and looking a bit manky.  

Last year I popped a few cyclamen and some velvety silver cineraria in gaps between the died-back hostas in their galvanised bath. But it was bit half-hearted, and look as much.
The container sits on top of a raised well in our front garden, so it’s fairly prominent. When it looks good, that’s great, when it’s a mess, it’s a bit of an embarrassment. 

So, when I spotted the plant stall in  town yesterday I was reminded of some pretty winter containers I’d seen in November’s Gardeners World mag. 

I grabbed £12 worth of plants: 6 white violas, 2 white cyclamen, 2 solanum (winter cherry?) and a little vibernum. Good value I think!

At home I topped up one of my old apple crate planters with compost and packed them in. 


I’m pretty pleased with the result, I’d like to add a little trailing ivy if I spot one. And when I’ve got Mr MBaF handy I’ll get his help to shift the heavy hostas off their perch and pop this one up there instead.

Back to the 1980s

Things finally seem to be moving more quickly in the garden, which is a relief. I’ve been feeling the weeks tick by with growing fear that summer will be over before I know it, with things never really getting going thanks to the cold and wind that have so far made the season disappointing.

But I have renewed hope from seeing the first flowers on my Lychnis coronaria (rose campion). This is a perennial I bought in my first year of making this garden (2013), as a £1.50 seedling from the garden centre. It had one of those little labels with a picture and description of the potential plant, which give only a small clue as to how it’ll turn out in your particular setting and against the rest of the planting.

Since then it’s become a reliable friend. The velvety silver stems stand upright – even up here on windy ridge – and produce simple single blooms of an intense deep pink. With regular deadheading and a bit of feeding it flowers and flowers throughout the summer.

This is the third year of its life in the garden, and the third position it’s tried – right next to my yellow climbing rose. I thought this would create a strong contrast. I was right, and they seem to intensify each other by their proximity. But it’s like a homage to the 1980sin my border, and I’m not sure I like it!

Pink and purple are neighbours on the colour wheel, yet my sunny geum and lavender make a calm and classy combination in the front garden, while the lychnis/rose parnership is eye-poppingly bonkers.

Talking of geums…I have these yellow beauties (Lady strathdene) in my back garden too, and they’re combining well with the first sights of more new blooms: what I think is penstemon plum jerkum, and geranium versicolor
In other news, the deep red team of dahlia and japanese acer is looking great in a previously-neglected part of the front garden – especially against the crisp and cool greens of crocosmia foliage and my wonderful hostas.

…which is just an excuse to tell you how bloomin’ chuffed I am that my hostas haven’t yet been munched by slugs and snails. The copper barrier around the pot, and moving it away from the mollusc bridge that is the garden fence, has worked a treat so far.