We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: Nantucket is one of a kind. The island’s unique beauty is the result of countless tiny details that add up to something that’s a bit hard to summarize. And that’s why we love to focus on all the little ingredients — from the quarterboards to the cobblestones — that make it our favorite place in the world.
Window boxes are one of those ingredients. They’re a key piece of nearly every home on island and a point of pride for homeowners. While there’s no single formula for beautiful window boxes, some specific considerations need to be made. For instance, if the front of your home is in the sun for much of the day, your window boxes will need full-sun flowers and heat-tolerant plants.
More than anything, though, window boxes are a beautiful way to express your creative side, test your green thumb, and add a little flare to your home. There are so many options out there, so it’s important to experiment with the arrangement until it’s just right. Here are some of our tips for the perfect Nantucket window boxes.
Invest in good window boxes
In the midst of gazing at all of the colorful flowers, it’s easy to forget what’s holding everything together: the box itself. While we love the look of classic wooden boxes, they don’t always withstand the years of salt air. Nantucket Flower Box Company decided to fix that problem by handcrafting them from copper. They build both ready-made and custom boxes that’ll stand the test of Nantucket’s seasons and patina with age. Consider them a new classic!
If you aren’t able to explore ‘Sconset or downtown Nantucket during the summer season for inspiration, look to Instagram for some bountiful blooms year-round.
It starts with the soil
If you want vibrant, bountiful window boxes, you have to consider the soil. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to potting soil, so we recommend trusting the experts. The folks at Moor’s End Farm know a thing or two about soil and would love to set you up with the right blend for your window boxes. While you’re there, pick up some flowers as well. They always have a dizzying variety in every color under the sun. Just make sure you’ve already studied your home’s natural light to come in with a general framework.
Similarly, drainage is super important. Make sure the planter itself has plenty of holes and fill the bottom with pea gravel or pebbles from the beach. That way, water will be able to filter throughout without any clogging.
Variety is key
Though it might seem fun to focus on one flower, the results are never quite as eye-popping as you’d hope. The best window boxes are overflowing with varying heights and colors. Variety is vital for both the soil and the overall aesthetic. If you have a specific color or plant in mind, start there and build around it with accent flowers and trailing flowers (the flowers that spill out over the edge). Each plant will grow at a different rate and to a different size, making for a dynamic appearance.
Think outside the box
To perfect what’s in the box, you have to think outside the box.
Window boxes can be a source of frustration. But, they can also be a source of creative expression. From year to year or month to month, test out new plants, arrangements, and colors to find the combination that works best for your home. You can always group the potted plants on the ground before transplanting to their final destination. Experiment with different colors and styles without disrupting your home’s design.
If you’re not happy with this year’s window boxes, it can feel a bit demoralizing to wait an entire year for new ones. Look at the bright side, though! You’ll have tons of time to draw out some new designs, do some extra homework, and come into summer with a plan.
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance
This one can’t be said enough. Even the most vibrant arrangement can wilt away if not taken care of. Don’t be afraid to use your gardening shears — sometimes you need to trim the plants to allow them to reach their fullest potential.
Test the soil with a trowel or your finger to make sure it’s still moist, especially in early August. Even if it rains for a week straight (yes, that happens), check the boxes to see if they’re getting water. Depending on your roof (and the direction of the rain), some might receive too much water and others too little. Water can take important nutrients with it, so make sure you’re fertilizing the soil on a regular basis.
Most importantly, have fun with it. While it may seem like a competition at times, it absolutely isn’t. The best window boxes are an expression of the home and the people that live there. As you and your family grow and evolve, your window boxes should too.