Getting Ready for America in Bloom

Sunday I visited the going-out-of-business sale at Lansing Hardware. Like many Northfielders, I am sorry to see the store close. Many times, Dave or Lee Lansing provided me with just the right piece of advice, as well as the right products, for a garden or home-repair project. I decided to check out the sale because Lansing’s always had wonderful containers for gardening. Sure enough, I found two large, stunning terra cotta pots for a fraction of what you would normally pay. I also found something for the upcoming Northfield in Bloom project, being spearheaded by the Northfield Garden Club–window boxes!

At the meeting I attended a week or so ago, the organizers indicated that they were going to encourage people to plant window boxes, both at home and at businesses. My house does not lend itself to putting boxes in the front, but the two 3-foot-long boxes I found at Lansing’s will look great on our deck, which backs up to a walking path. In a funny way, we have two front yards, one on the street, one on the walking paths, and we run into neighbors and people we know in both locations. Window boxes are cheerful no matter where you plant them.

The Northfield in Bloom folks have even come up with a plant/color scheme for participants and I plan to use this in the window boxes. They recommend that we use sweet potato vine, hot pink petunias, and dark coleus. This is a good mix for a part-sun/semi-shade site. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea) comes in a bunch of colors and varieties, but the most common one is a lime/chartreuse green color, like ‘Margarita’. Pink petunias, of course, are available all over the place, but I have heard good reviews on the Wave™ petunias. For lower maintenance try Easy Waves; for super flower power, the Tidal Waves are supposed to grow large (spreading up to 3 feet) with lots of flowers. Dark coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) are everywhere during the spring garden sales, and even if you don’t plant for America in Bloom, I recommend them for high-impact containers. Mine looked great for five solid months last summer, and only asked for water and a drop of fertilizer now and then. This article from Fine Gardening has good suggestions for using coleus in containers. At a garden I toured two years ago, the homeowner put rows of coleus in pots (one per pot) on a tiered shelf to create a wall of interesting leaf shapes and colors. It was easy to execute and dramatic.

Unfortunately, it’ll be several weeks before these plantings can go in. In the meantime, if you are interested in window boxes, Lansings had several left in a variety of sizes and at great prices.

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