Once the spring arrangement has started to fade, summer flowers replace them, and again towards late autumn the look changes again for the Christmas period.
Usually the arrangements tend to have a seasonal theme to them, particularly at Christmas, with the use of lots of dark evergreen and bright red. Cyclamens are very popular at this time of the year as they are red, whereas with the emergence of spring, people look more to bulbs, such as daffodils, hyacinths and primroses.
To keep costs down, evergreen shrubs can be used for structure, which will last the whole year, boosted with flowers to introduce seasonal colours.
Another consideration is the style. You may want a contemporary feel of dark greens and browns by using such plants as bamboo, lime green ferns and spiky grasses.
Or why not go for a more traditional look, perhaps using topiary balls and pyramid conifers that can be filled out with flowers.
Planting also has to be carefully thought out to have the right variations in height, with all the gaps filled in. Another consideration is whether to have trailing plants, and the implications to the people below if you are a flat dweller.
At the initial meeting, the question of irrigation is covered as this needs to be fitted, preferably before the window boxes are filled, although they it can be added when it is time for replanting.
Installing irrigation is often a simple mechanism as long as you have your own water tap, located on the same side of the building as the boxes. Not having a tap does not faze Alex. "We can easily install one".
The problem comes where an outside water tap is shared with another home owner, as a computerised clock needs to be attached to the tap, which is set to turn off and on at certain times.
Doing without irrigation can be a false economy, he thinks. "Flowers are the major cost, and it is amazing how many people forget to water them. People go away at weekends or on holiday, and for the sake of a one-off installation, the flowers can all die in the hot weather".
Irrigation of this type usually consists of plastic tubing, with outlets off it, which can be painted any colour to fit in with the building, so when fitting, hiding them is usually not a problem. Garden Automation will also look at irrigation for gardens, particularly for lawns and borders. This is where it can be especially cost-effective, if you are currently paying someone to come and water your lawns.
If you are not in their catchment area, your local garden centre will probably be able to make up boxes for you, or recommend someone who can. If you want to do it yourself and need advice, being a member of the Royal Horticultural Society gives you access to their advisory service.
Garden Automation are happy to offer readers of MQ based in London and Somerset a 10% discount on their irrigation requirements during 2003 for both their window boxes and gardens.
Alex Dewar: telephone 020 7730 2233 RHS: telephone 0845 130 4646 www.rhs.org.uk
Tips for April / May / June
Check ties and stakes of newly planted trees and shrubs for wind-rock. Leave daffodils to die down. Be careful not to mow over them. Sow hardy annuals directly into the ground to fill bare patches
For prolific flowering, prune wisteria down to two buds on each lateral shoot. Apply a humus mulch to control weeds. Mulch light, sandy soil. Remove spring bedding plants.
Keep mower on low setting. Spike lawns in places often walked upon. Remove any forget-me-nots that have selfseeded in unacceptable places. Benefit from the `sales' to buy garden furniture.
Web site created by Mark Griffin