Monday, July 4, 2011
My older daughter, who now lives in New York and is a publicist for HarperCollins, moved to Charleston, S.C., after finishing her masters in journalism at the University of North Carolina. Right before July 4 one year, my younger daughter, then living in New York, and I met there for a visit.
It had been years since I'd had the chance to walk the streets of Charleston. I felt like I was in a foreign country. The ingenious way people grow things in such tiny spaces inspired me to reconsider what I could do at home (more about how they use espaliers later).
It was such fun looking at all the window boxes. I could identify many of the plants, but they were used so cleverly and without restraint.
The compositions in the shady window boxes were pretty consistent Caladiums, ivies, impatiens, all types of ferns, variegated vinca, coleus and so on. In the sunny exposures, you saw lots of geraniums, million bells, scaevola and Zinnia linearis, all artfully arranged. Some larger window boxes had evergreen anchors like boxwood. I saw several boxes with clumps of hibiscus providing some height. It's not that any of the flowers were particularly rare, but they were used with such abandon, cascading over the sides of the boxes at the base of windows.
The window box pictured here is surrounded by typical Charleston elements, i.e., the intricate wrought iron gate and the dark green shutters. And there's hardly anything more 4th of July than red geraniums and the American flag. What a combination.