Iris Jardine talks to Alex Dewar about how to create eye-catching window boxes
Alex Dewar is a young man who has found a niche in the market designing and maintaining window boxes. Together with his partner David Howell, who specialises in irrigation, they have formed 'Garden Automation'.
An added bonus in using the company, is that the initial consultation is free. Generally people change their boxes about three times a year, but it can be more often.
"Sometimes our clients know exactly what they want, but more often than not, they look to us for ideas and inspiration" says Alex.
Just as with decorating the home, it is important to decide on the look you want, and particularly whether it is to be modern or have a more traditional feel.
Alex carries a lot of gardening books around with him. If you don't already know what you want, look at pictures to get a better appreciation of what is being suggested, or indeed what you have in mind.
How often have you seen something you like, but don't know the names of the flowers or plants? Libraries are a great source for gardening books, if you don't have any to hand.
Colour plays an important part in the process, as do personal preferences. Budget tends not to be a major issue. Alex only charges £15 an hour for his time although, of course, the cost of the plants and flowers are on top.
The initial outlay could be expensive, depending on the amount of flowers and greenery used; the type of boxes, wood, imitation lead or terracotta; and whether irrigation is to be installed. After that, maintenance, whether doing it yourself or getting someone to help, should be fairly minimal.
There are three main seasons when people tend to change their plants and flowers, although there are always those who do it more often. If it had not been thought about before, spring is generally the time when people start thinking about the appearance of their homes, and particularly the outside. Alex starts his planting for spring as early as February, although March or April is still 'in season'.
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