Even in the midst of winter, there are many plants that will lend their beauty to balconies, terraces and windowsills, whatever the container.
Winter flowers, beaming berries and evergreen leafage pair well and colorfully embellish your surroundings! Take advantage of it!
Colors in winter
Want the Christmas spirit to live on with splashes of green and red? These plants will grant your wishes as they offer bright flowers like the miniature cyclamen and winter pansies, red berries like the Skimmia and Gaultheria, magnificent frost-reddened leaves like the leucothoe – particularly the ‘Scarletta’ variety – or naturally purple foliage like the ‘Purple Palace’ alumroot…
Set the deep green of conifers aside in the garden box and select lighter-colored foliage instead. The more luminous bright green will pair very well with these intense hues that sometimes turn deep and dark under the winter low-hung clouds. Try out these light-colored backdrops: soft green santolina, ‘Icterina’ sage, variegated ivy or green and gold yellow ‘Oriental Limelight’ artemisia…
Add a touch of mystical beauty to your composition at nightfall with pure white or multicolored light tubes nestled at the foot of plants, around the edges of the garden box or wedged in the middle of the bunches.
When illuminated from below, plants will appear completely renewed, berries will seem to hang like forbidden fruits and the yellow fringes of variegated leaves will shine light all around.
Want a Christmas tree?
The most famous of Christmas artefacts, the Christmas tree. Impossible to grow one in a garden box, of course… unless you cheat a little bit: purchase a true dwarf conifer that grows into a cone-shaped bearing. ‘Sentinel’ or ‘Stricta’ juniper, ‘Top Point’ or ‘Nana Gracilis’ false cypress will do the trick for a garden box. Metal blue dwarf fir, dwarf Serbian spruce or other dwarf spruce varieties also all have a Christmas-tree-like cone bearing, and they’ll fit in a large garden box (at least 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm) deep and wide).
Plant them together with low-lying or cascading plants that will highlight their remarkable shape: heath and hellebore will make an exquisite arrangement with ‘Evergold’ Carex that will form a very luminous ground cover at the foot of the tree, as will a selection of mottled or finely formed ivy varieties.
After a few years, though, even dwarf conifers tend to grow quite large (up to 6 ½ feet (2 meters) tall) and gobble up too much space on the balcony or windowsill: best transfer them to the garden.