the window boxes of charleston.

First up, congrats to Jill H.!  I drew her name at random to win my giveaway of paint from Dixie Belle’s new Desert Collection.  I’ve got a couple more giveaways planned for the next month or two, so if you didn’t win this time, don’t give up.  There will be more chances coming soon.

Well dear readers, I have to confess that I have pulled a fast one.  Mr. Q and I were in Charleston, South Carolina over the past two weeks.  I probably err on the side of caution, but I’ve always felt it unwise to broadcast it to the world when our house is going to sit empty … well, semi-empty anyway.  Our cat, Lucy, was on guard duty.  And Ken kept an eye on Lucy, and things in general, from next door.

But now we are back!  And we had an amazing time.  So, fair warning, you’re going to see a few Charleston themed posts coming up because I took a lot of photos.  Charleston has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited.  It has a lot going for it, gorgeous old homes, stunning gardens, delicious food, and lots of history.

I’ll be sharing more on all of those things, but for today I wanted to share something that I saw all over the place in Charleston … beautiful window boxes!

As you may know, we have several window boxes at our house.  So I was definitely scoping out the various combinations of plants to get ideas for my own window boxes this year.

One trend that I noted in Charleston were window boxes that included some perennials in the mix rather than just relying on flowering annuals.  The lime green heuchera in the box below is gorgeous combined with pansies and petunias.

Here is another box that used the same lime green heuchera.

I love how they used a lemon cypress to add some vertical interest in the middle of that one too.  I may have to copy that idea.

This next box includes a deep purple heuchera that contrasts beautifully with the variegated leaves of that tropical looking plant (I don’t know what that plant is, so if any of you are familiar with it please be sure to leave a comment to let us know).

That box is a great example of using foliage rather than flowers to make a statement.

I would guess that you can keep perennials alive in a window box year round in the southern climate of Charleston (hardiness zone 8).  Unfortunately, here in Minnesota our winter temps get far too low to keep most perennials from freezing beyond recovery unless they are in the ground.  The rule of thumb for a perennial surviving winter in an above ground planter is to choose a plant with a hardiness zone two times lower than your normal zone.  Since the twin cities are a zone 4, I’d need to find plants hardy to zone 2 before I could expect them to survive the winter in a planter.

Of course, I could also simply treat the heuchera (or any perennial) as an annual and replant it every year.

I saw a few other options for more permanent window box plants, like boxwood.

At least I’m fairly sure that’s boxwood (if any of you know differently, let me know).  There aren’t many varieties of boxwood that do well in my area, so I’m not that familiar with it.  But I love the idea of underplanting an evergreen of some kind with flowering annuals.

Here’s another example of a box using an evergreen.

There were a few gardeners who were really thinking outside the box (pardon the pun) when it came to plant choices for their window boxes.

I love the use of cyclamen in this one …

And how unique is the use of orchids in this next one?

Now, I’m not sure, but I believe that big round leafed plant is a leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum).  Apparently this plant used to be considered a ligularia, but has been reclassified.

Here is it in another box …

I saw quite a lot of this plant growing in the ground as well.  Clearly whatever it’s called, it does very well in the Charleston climate.

I would never have thought to use a calla lily in a window box, and here it is combined with more of that lime green heuchera and some yellow pansies creating an amazing bright pop of color.

I have to admit I’m not usually a huge fan of yellow, but that combination is gorgeous.

I’m going to go off on a tangent for just a moment and admire the green color on those shutters and how beautifully it works with the plant choices in the window boxes as well.

Around the other side of this same house, they went in a slightly different direction with their plant choices incorporating some purple tones.

I saw window boxes with more monochromatic themes in Charleston too.

Such as this one with white begonias, euphorbia and bacopa.

And this one in purply pinks.

I was thinking that tall plant is a mandevilla.  I’ve only seen mandevilla’s as a vine, but apparently they come in a mounding variety as well.  Or maybe that is a different plant entirely, does anyone know?

The cool color scheme of this next one with its pop of blue pansies and purple Scaevola aemula combined with white alyssum and snap dragons really appeals to me.

You’d have to swap out the pansies when the weather becomes too hot for them (they like it cool).  I’m guessing that the owner of this window box pulls them out and puts something else in for summer.

I was especially impressed by the combination of gerbera daisies and kalanchoe in this next window box.  Those pinks match each other almost perfectly.

And to cap it off, this one was decorated for Easter.

See what I mean?  There are little eggs tucked in here and there.  It’s subtle, and I love it.

As you can see, everywhere I looked in Charleston I saw gorgeous window boxes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them as much as I did.  I’ve certainly come away with a few ideas that I plan to use in my own window boxes this year (you know, once they finally thaw out).  How about you?  Do you have any favorite plants, or combination of plants that you like to use?  If so, be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

I also hope you’ll stay tuned for more posts about our recent trip to Charleston.

36 thoughts on “the window boxes of charleston.

  1. Perfect timing on the window box post. I have two boxes on my balcony railing that are waiting patiently for the right plants to appear in the nursery. We have had the chilly (I mean right at 30-32 degrees) popping up every so often this spring so we are getting a late start on planting in St. Louis. Love the lime and purple heuchera. I will be on the lookout for that to go with some wave petunias. I always worry about crowding too much into such a small area. Obviously that’s not a problem for these folks.


    1. I don’t worry about overcrowding in a planter either. I like them to look chock-full from day 1. You can always yank a couple of things out later if it gets too crowded.


  2. Here in southern Maine, they are predicting possible snow showers, which we all KNOW will not last long…but still, after Easter? My other moderate whine, is how far along the fullness and growth of those boxes are at this time of year. I know, we live where we do for a reason, but sometimes, when I see flowers at this time of year, my head explodes, just a little bit. Beautiful, beautiful examples. Thanks for sharing, very inspiring.


    1. I hear you Susan. It has been flurry-ing here all morning. Nothing that is going to accumulate, but still. Certainly not gardening weather yet. But I’m itching to get to it!


    2. I’m in upstate/central NY, (Syracuse/Utica) we have a winter storm on the way, up to a foot of snow predicted and the winds are already picking up. This is rare, hopefully not the new normal. Local garden centers, even the big box stores have little in stock and what there is, is so expensive, about double the cost of last year. I am starting somethings in my house, Also, nationwide, we aren’t supposed to feed the birds, due to the Avian Flu that is devastating not only chickens and turkeys, but all the songbirds. I may have to go faux.


      1. Oh boy. I don’t feel so sorry for myself now, knowing that you might get a foot of snow. At least our snow isn’t accumulating! I have also heard about not feeding the birds. This isn’t an issue for me since I don’t feed them anyway (I have a cat that goes outside, so it never seemed right to entice the birds to hang around). But Ken has quite a few bird feeders and I’m not sure how he’s going to cope with not being able to keep them full.


      2. I have all rescue cats (2, for good, and sheltering a pregnant female temporarily) and a pup I adopted while on the road as a caseworker for child protective services- don’t worry, we rescued the kids first, lol.
        Also I am a life long (learned from my mother) bird feeder. It has been so hard to stop feeding them- my neighbors do too, and we have all the song birds, plus blue jays and cardinals….absolutely wonderful. We have lots of bunnies, woodchucks, squirrels, too. And deer, even though I am in a small city here. I have an 1880 house, about 1500 s feet, two story, cobbled over the years, but love your stye, it fits my home so well.


  3. Beautiful! In western SD we hesitate to plant until after Mother’s Day! But my son will be going to Navy school in Charleston and I can’t wait to see it all! Please tell of your adventures and give recommendations!


    1. Ditto here. I wait until Mother’s Day or later to put annuals in. So, we still have another month to go, don’t we? Be sure to stay tuned, I’m going to share a few posts about Charleston and I have lots of tips for you!


  4. They are all lovely. Especially like the mostly blue and white one. I’ve tried growing a white variety of those fan flowers before but have never had much luck with them. Hope you enjoyed your trip and thanks for sharing. Looking forward to some more Charleston.


    1. I love that blue and white one too. I have grown scaevola and I have to say it does best in full sun. I only have one spot that’s full sun, and that’s the little planter next to my mailbox. But it did really well there 🙂


  5. Wow! These are beautiful! So many new choices. I wonder if the perennials would have enough time to settle in the ground for winter, if window boxes were changed for fall or winter?
    A win, win! I definitely will be trying these if spring EVER arrives. Thanks for the inspiration!


    1. I think that would be a great option Melissa. Pull out the heuchera and plant it in the ground, and replace it with something like ornamental kale for fall. I think if you get your perennial in the ground by September, and maybe give it an extra good mulching for winter, you should be OK.


    2. Hello Melissa and Quandie, I thought I would leave a note to let you know that, yes, you do have enough time in Sept to plop a perennial in the ground, just allow about 4 weeks before the ground actually freezes; here in zone 4, it is usually the beginning of November. I have been digging up some Purple Palace heucheras and lady ferns for years to plant in pots and then return them to the ground toward the middle to end of September. I see tons of inspiration for my window boxes and pots — thank you for the spot of color today, much needed with the snow falling today. : )


      1. Thanks so much for this info Kim! I purchased a bunch of Purple Palace from the sale bin last year and put it all in the ground, but now that I know about this I’m definitely going to look into putting some heuchera in my window boxes. Good to know that it works so well for you.


  6. They’re all so beautiful it’s hard to decide which I would use if and when I get a window box. I had some but they fell apart a few years ago and just never got around to replacing them. Thanks for the inspiration.


  7. Beautiful photos! I’m so glad you have gotten to travel again. I know you love it! When I hear Charleston, I always get con confused with Savannah. Does anyone else do that? Two beautiful southern cities on the ocean and river. The flower boxes are beautiful, wish St Louis would warm up so I could plant flowers!


    1. I always want to say Charlotte, when I mean Charleston. Probably because I lived in Charlotte for a couple of years, so it just rolls off the tongue more easily. I thought for sure my strategy of planning a trip in April would mean I could return home to spring … but it has snowed nearly every day since I came back. Ugh. But by the time next week we may get some warmer weather here. Fingers crossed.


  8. Well what the what Miss Quandie??!!! That was a fast one! Bet you didn’t know that my family home was about an hour from Charleston! We are in the lumber business and the mills are located out in the boonies of the beautiful loblolly forests and that’s where I grew up! But we’d go into Charleston for clothes shopping and specialist doctors etc. I left to go to a girls’ school in Virginia, then studied in France, and then now have lived in Los Angeles for forever but always go home for Christmas and in the summer. But I’ve never explored Charleston AS AN ADULT and I need to do that! I’d fly into Charleston and go home…..just too much of an undertaking to drag my little boys around!!! But I could definitely do that now that they’re grown…..I can’t wait to read your next posts!


    1. I did not know that you were originally from SC! Well, I say you absolutely must go back and explore Charleston as an adult. But first wait until you’ve read all of my upcoming posts 😉


    2. What a small world! Hi, Connie! We were classmates at Holly Hill High. Debbie Moorer! I love to read Q’s blog and just happen to see your comment! I hope you will see my comment…..maybe Q will pass it along !


      1. Debbie and Miss Quandie! I am STUNNED by this intersection! Just stunned! My first instinct is to wonder “what is the meaning behind it? Especially, Miss Quandie, because our little town has fewer than 1,500 people within the town limits! What do you think about that? Maybe it’s to confirm what I’ve always told my boys, that I grew up in a community with the nicest and most “normal” people in the world and what could be more normal than to love Miss Quandie?!!! My boys, who grew up in Los Angeles, CAN NOT fathom a normal life with so few people around! Hahahahahaha! Where do you live now Debbie? And where is your hubby Mr. Wilson from? The only Wilson at home was Dr. Billy Wilson, the dentist? Who had two daughters? As a side note to Miss Quandie: one of the pilots of the Space Shuttle, Frank Culbertson, was four years ahead of us and was the son of the town doctor! Just one of many examples of the mental/emotional elevation of what my father fondly called “our little hick town”!!!


      2. I bet it was pretty amazing growing up in your ‘little hick town’! Do you miss it at all? Or are you content to remain in California now?


  9. I just had a Facebook friend comment how they want to get back to Charleston. I’ve never been but my interest has been piqued, twice! I have always wanted a couple window boxes. So beautiful.


  10. *** Constance Colvin, it was purely a miracle! I was scrolling down to leave a comment in the same vein as yours …“growing up near Charleston”…. I saw your name and read your comment to confirm it was you! I live in upstate SC near Clemson/Greenville. I am a retired educator of 33 years. My husband is from the upstate and is a retired educator as well. He makes wooden spoons. We stay busy as we have a following of folks who love using them. I hope you are well! I have been reading Miss Quandie for years. I love her trash to treasure transformations!


    1. Debbie hey! so happy to hear from you! Do you still go home? Do you still have family ALIVE? The two Colvin families in town are all DEAD……so strange to write that. And the mills merged with Georgia-Pacific. My brother still manages our tracks of land but lives in Charleston. Did you go to Clemson? Do you stay in touch with Jerry Henry? Is it not PC to say “teacher” anymore? Enquiring minds want to know! And, where do you sell your wooden spoons?


      1. Hi, Connie! Sadly, I seldom go back to HHill. Both parents are gone. I know the town still misses Miss Millie to this day, She was a dynamo force! I still stay in touch with Teresa Connor Parler; she keeps me up to date with folks. I went to Erskine College and have a daughter and a son.


  11. Wow!!! There is so much to glean from these inspiring photos. We live in NC and visit the Low Country at least once a year. The plant in question that grows well is a Farfugium. It’s common name is the tractor seat plant, because the leafs shape similar to a tractor seat. 😂 They are everywhere in Savannah as well. Can’t wait to use some of these ideas in my containers this year. 💚


    1. I love that common name, great descriptor! The leaves do look like a tractor seat. I wonder if they grown them at the John Deere factory 😉


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