WINTER WINDOW BOXES – Jane Beedle’s top tips for a stylish winter display


Hi there, it’s Alexandra from the Middle-
sized Garden YouTube channel and blog and today I’m tagging along with garden
designer Jane Beedle (@janebbakes) to find out how she does her winter window boxes. Jane was a
Great British Bake Off finalist and all that creativity that she used creating
cakes during the series also goes into her window boxes and her pots, and
really actually anything she does, so I thought it’d be great to find out what
her tips for winter window boxes are – because the odd thing is is winter
window boxes are a bit different from summer ones. So when I’m planning my
winter window boxes I like to think of a structure that’s going to take you right
the way through the season because some of the stuff that I bought here for
Christmas is probably not going to last through to January or February, because
especially these cyclamen tend to go a little bit mouldy, so my
structure will stay until I replant for the summer. Flowers I’ve put in for a specific sort of festival like Christmas can
come out and get replaced with, say, primulas or something that’s in flower.
That’s going to extend the window box throughout the season. So I’m looking for things that will look
very seasonal but will then extend right through to May when I do the summer bedding.
First we went along to Meadow Grange, one of our local nurseries,
because it’s great to go somewhere where there’s a really wide choice of plants.
When you’re in the nursery you can try out different combinations, put them
together on the shelves or in the basket, and we tried out quite a few. So what I
like to do is to see what is available. I like to have a bit of height
in the window boxes because things are not really going to grow over the winter
in the same way as your summer bedding will, so you have to pack it as full as possible. I look for some height and and put
things in a trolley and see how they work together – I do that whatever window
boxes or planters I’m doing, and also when planting a border. Jane started off by
looking for structure and for color and for something trailing, and in the end
she picked the color first. There’s a kind of magic trio formula for
window boxes which works for summer and for winter window boxes, which is that
you shouldn’t have more than three colors in a window box – and remember
that green is one of those colors – so when it comes to what we think of as
color like pink or red, it often does work better just to choose
one of those. So Jane looked at cyclamen which makes a lovely festive window box
and she could have had all red or pink or all white or of course a mix of them
but she decided to go for all one color and chose the red, because of Christmas.
The next thing she looked for was height and there was three final choices for this.
We tried out some rosemary and of course the nice thing about having
rosemary is that it means you can actually use the plants in your window
box and you know when you do change your window box, you can put them on
the kitchen windowsill and you can cook from them – it’s a very low waste thing to
choose herbs. And so we put together the rosemary with the cyclamen and with the
ivy and that was nice, but we carried on looking and we came across
some golden cypresses which were just lovely miniature golden cypresses and
they had a very strong shape which really works in a window box and also it
was a zingy combination with the cyclamen, and then we spotted some
eucalyptus and that’s a sort of lovely blue gray – it’s not a structural as the
Cypress but it’s still a very good evergreen structure. Jane said that
she’s going to give me her eucalyptus when she re-does the window boxes in May
and I’ve been longing to grow eucalyptus. You can use any shrubs really – you get
some marvelous little mini shrubs in a garden center at this time of year. They
cost you one pound fifty or or two pounds – if they grew to their
mature height, they would be much much too big for a window box, but you next
spring rather than chuck the plants away you just either find a space in your garden or
very grateful friends that would like them. We tried out all the
combinations in the trolley and looking down at this combination of green gray
and red we decided that was so festive and also really pretty.She got two other
plants for structure- something which is generally called Barbed Wire
plant which created a lovely kind of textural
impact and also a plant which I will find out the name of and I will put in
the description below It’s an evergreen shrub and has a lovely
red tinge to the leaves. One of the things that Jane pointed out is that
plants don’t grow in your winter window box in the same way they grow in your
summer window box. You could put plants into a summer window box with gaps and they don’t need to trail very much and actually within a
few weeks the whole thing would have bulked out. That’s not going to happen in
the winter so you need to choose the plants at the size you want them and to
overpack the window box and so when she was choosing the ivy she picked out the
ones that had particularly long trailing tendrils already rather than
hoping that they would grow to trail. The other tip she told me about ivy is
that you can split it so two or three ivy plants can actually make a whole
load of trailing elements for a window box. Back home
Jane tipped half the compost out of her window boxes because once again,
the plants aren’t growing so they don’t need a lot of nutrition – you can get
away with only half changing your compost. In the summer you need to
completely change your compost and also feed the plants – however she did
warn that if you’ve had vine weevil , you do have to change all the compost and give the
boxes a really good clean-out.Once she tipped out half the soil Jane also put
in some narcissi bulbs because those will poke up in the spring and they will add
another layer of color and interest to the window box. She does warn that you should choose bulbs which are quite short – dwarf
varieties. I love to see the bulbs coming through and if you get a bit more
organized than I’ve been this yea,r you can put some tulips in as well, so you
get the the daffs then the tulips coming up – be careful they’re not too tall and
go for some of the shorter varieties – it just gives you that added bit of
pleasure and surprise once the spring hits you or you don’t really want to or
or it is too early indeed to do your summer winter boxes. She then
added the rest of the new compost and started to pack in the plants quite
tightly. Another of her tips with cyclamen isto make sure that it’s not
buried too far deep in the trough. Winters tend to be quite damp
and cyclamen doesn’t really like sitting in wet soil. So it needs to drain a bit
more than some of the other plants, so put it on top and make it
the last thing you put in, almost perched on top of the compost
rather than buried deeply into it. Once Jane had completed the window boxes she
said that it’s important not to water them until you’ve got them up into
position, because if you water a window box, you’re going to find it very
difficult to lift and they’re heavy enough as it is.
There are links in the description below to Jane Beedle’s Instagram feed and also
to the new cookery school that she’s going to be starting near Canterbury in
Kent and she’ll be doing one-day workshops so even if you don’t live near
Canterbury it’ll be a great day out. If you’ve got any tips for winter window
boxes, do leave them in the comments below and if you’ve enjoyed this please
do hit ‘like’ and I’ll know you’d like to hear more about container gardening and
if you’d like more tips, ideas and inspiration for your garden
do subscribe to the Middle-sized Garden YouTube channel and thank you for
watching, goodbye!

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18 thoughts on “WINTER WINDOW BOXES – Jane Beedle’s top tips for a stylish winter display

  1. Hello Alexandra, What a lovely combination, festive too ❤️ Take care and God Bless to you and your family. Best regards, Chris-Raleigh NC

  2. Loved the plant combinations used. Those barbed wire plants are very interesting and they could be very pretty with frost on them too!

  3. Watching her bend over so much I wish she had a potting table… I need one as well and am hoping to get something attractive that will hold up in all kinds of weather… That would be a great topic to cover… Visiting potting tables… Thank you. The boxes are lovely.

  4. I appreciated the tips for winter planting. It’s important to remember the growing habits of cool season plants and how to correctly space them! The plant selection was spot on and lovely. Lots of good advice packed into your vlog, thanks so much for all of the useful information!

  5. Beautiful combinations. I never seen barbed wire plant before it is gorgeous. And I love her window boxes they are very pretty.

  6. Those window boxes were beautiful, loved the red Cyclamen. Totally unrelated but , have to say, I love the lipstick color you are wearing, it really brings out your wonderful coloring.

  7. I am planning for window boxes in my new-to-me home so this was a valuable presentation. Great information to ensure success in winter. Thanks Alexandra and Jane!

  8. Thank you for all this info–I like to put in the THRILLER (tall, like the golden cypress) and the SPILLER (the ivy) and then the other plants to fill in.

  9. You look wonderful in red! Thank you for the video, and for Jane. I enjoy her presentations tremendously. I'm in climate US 5A, so no window boxes in winter. But I do have bulbs planted for spring!

  10. Thanks I appreciate the plant suggestions. I must get some cyclamen. I didn’t realize that they were somewhat cold tolerant. Perhaps I can find some eucalyptus. It is so attractive!

  11. So wish it were warm enough here in the winter to do some of these things. (5b here in upstate NY.) At least I can watch and drool.

  12. So elegant! Love the window boxes so much. And o boy that garden center! I wish we had something like that in our area. 🙂

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