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How Trees Can Make An Exciting Display In Window Boxes

Dec 1, 2007
Its amazing but a little known fact is that trees grow very well and are easy to maintain in window boxes.

Tender trees are commonly grown in warmer regions, where they remain outdoors all year. In colder areas, as container subjects, they require shelter in winter. As a group, they are popular with both southern and northern gardeners.

Acacias. Many kinds of acacias are treasured for their feathery yellow flowers in winter and early spring. Fast growing, they require a cool greenhouse or plant room in the North in winter.

Bullbay Magnolia. A highly ornamental evergreen magnolia, much grown in the South, with large dark green leaves and huge fragrant white flowers. Where not hardy, a most worthwhile container plant.

California Pepper Tree. A semi pendulous small tree, with fernlike, olive-green leaves and hanging clusters of long-lasting, rose-colored berries. A native of Peru, it withstands heat and dryness, even poor soil, as well as severe pruning. Much planted as a street tree in southern Europe.

Citrus. Glossy-leaved trees, with small, scented flowers and decorative, lasting fruits. Orange, lemon, kumquat, tangerine, lime, and others do well in tubs and boxes. The dwarf Otaheite or Tahiti orange and the Ponderosa lemon are small types.

Crape Myrtle. The "lilac of the South," a shrub or small tree, with great tresses of crinkled blooms in pink, red, purple, and white all summer long. Container-grown in the North, it must be wintered in a cool frost-free place. It withstands severe pruning.

Eucalyptus. Rapid-growing, drought-resistant trees with leathery aromatic leaves and peeling bark. Replacements of container specimens are easily made.

Fig. The edible fig of southern Europe is fine for containers in the North. Large, coarse leaves are light green; the bark is a pleasing gray.

Japanese Privet. A handsome tall shrub or small tree, with glossy, dark green leaves and panicles of white flowers, followed by black berries. It is often confused with the less handsome glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum).

Loquat. A Japanese tree with long, leathery, strong-veined leaves and tasty orange-yellow fruits. An excellent tub specimen for terraces or patios, as often seen in southern Europe.

Norfolk Island Pine. A pyramidal, horizontal evergreen with sharp-pointed leaves. Much grown as a pot or tub plant in greenhouses in the North.

Olive. Picturesque tree with twisted, gnarled trunk and branches as it gets older. Leaves are small, thick and everČgreen, olive-green above and silvery below. Slow-growing plants bear black fruits that fall when ripe.

Pacific Madrone {Arbutus menziesi). An attractive broad-leaved evergreen, with fragrant, heathlike, white flowers in six-inch panicles surmounting large, glossy leaves. Chocolate-brown bark sheds like that of the plane tree. Difficult to move, plants are best transplanted as seedlings under eighteen inches.

Palms. Often seen in the North in public parks and boČtanical gardens in tubs. Graceful with slender trunks, often curving, and arching leaves. Some are small, as the lady palm (Raphis excelsa) which attains six to ten feet. All grow easily and withstand neglect.

Sweet Bay or Grecian Laurel. The true laurel of the ancient Greeks, familiar as a clipped tubbed specimen, often with a single trunk and pungent, dark green leaves. Tough and easy-to-grow, appropriate for formal doorways, hotels, or public buildings. Requires a cool place in winter in the North.

Rubber Plant. A familiar house plant in the North with large glossy leaves. Include some variegated forms for color highlights.

Hardy Shrubs:

With trees, shrubs are needed for background, mass effects, and shade. Every container garden also requires some hardy needle and broadleaved evergreens for year-round color. In summer in the North, these can be supplemented with camellias, pittosporums, podocarpus, oleanders, sweet bays, and citrus plants. Include deciduous types for bloom and the interest of the branches in winter. Here is a recommended but far from complete list of possibilities.

Arborvitae. Versatile evergreen for the portable gardden. Inexpensive, hardy, and quick-growing, it is ideal for hedges or background or for closing off sections. Little Gem, a variety of American arborvitae, is low and compact, a foot high, but spreading several feet.

Azaleas. Brilliant flowering shrubs requiring an acid soil. They also make good container plants in alkaline areas since soil can be prepared for them. Plants take shade, but flower better in sun. Always keep moist, since fibrous roots resent drying out.

Brooms or Cytisus. Green arching stems, with abundant flowers in spring. Require full sun and a light, sandy soil. Both the showy Warminster broom, with yellow flowers, and the familiar golden Scotch broom are dependable.

Cotoneasters. Interesting with a world of possibilities. Flowers are inconspicuous but glossy leaves and colorful berries are attractive. Rock spray cotoneaster has flat, horizontally arching branches. The small-leaved evergreen cotoneaster can be arranged around trees in planters and large boxes to avoid bareness.

Enkianthus. Handsome with small, bell-shaped flowers in pendulous clusters, fine to see close at hand. Lustrous leaves become fiery red in autumn. An acid soil plant, requiring the same culture as azaleas.

Fothergillas or Bottlebrushes. Small shrubs with white flowers in spring and large, coarse leaves that color in autumn. Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardeni) attains three feet, but the large fothergilla (F. major) grows taller.

Hollies. Handsome plants, with shiny foliage and bright berries. Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) has dark green leaves; the convex-leaved Japanese holly has small, rounded, highly polished leaves; Haller's Japanese holly is a small, compact variety; and Kingsville is a true dwarf. Inkberry, another shrub holly, has lustrous evergreen leaves, an open habit, and black berries in fall. Leaves turn bronzy-purple in winter.

Japanese Flowering Quinces. Many varieties, including dwarfs with vermilion, scarlet, pink, rose, red, apricot, and white blossoms. These easy shrubs are primarily desired for early spring vivid color.

Japanese Yews. Among the best evergreens for hardiness, ease of culture and tolerance of sun or shade. There are upright, columnar, spreading, and low forms; all have dark green needles and are excellent for contrast with flowers. These are hardy in the North, but be sure to water all container plants in winter when soil is not frozen. The upright, rounded Hatfield and the columnar Hicks yews make good hedges. Where hardy, English yews can be substituted.
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