Debra Prinzing

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Autumn window boxes

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Ornamental cabbages and kales are all it takes to make some pretty cool fall window boxes.

Understanding “scale” is one of the most challenging of all design principles. So is finding just the right plant combo to fill a series of ginormous window boxes.

Jayson Home & Garden - a Chicago discovery for all the things I love

So imagine my delight at seeing a great example of both while visiting my college-freshman son in Chicago last month. While waiting for him to get out of class, I filled my free time touring the city’s uber-hip Lincoln Park neighborhood. That’s when I drove by Jayson Home & Garden.

A savvy retailer-friend in Seattle had told me about this must-visit shop that specializes in European-inspired home furnishings, antiques, accessories, tabletop and plants. . . so I slammed on the brakes of the rental car and took a tour – inside and out.

Jayson Home & Garden occupies a large, vintage warehouse on Clybourn Avenue. Since the building is located on a corner, there are many huge  windows that wrap both sides of it. Each window is about 4-feet wide and is adorned with an accompanying window box. You can see why any other autumn flowering favorite, such as a mum or pansy, could disappear in these deep, super-sized planter boxes.

I took this photo from across the street - see how dramatic the window boxes look with the large green-purple heads of cabbage and kale?

So here’s where the scale equation works brilliantly.

These boxes are planted with two forms of ornamental cabbage and kale. That’s it.

Packed tightly with alternating ruffled and rounded plant shapes, the design is simple and makes a big impact while filling no fewer than six of the massive boxes. I also love the way the designs anchor the tall windows and elevate something living halfway up the sides of the store’s exterior.

Check it out!

The next time you’re at the grocery store or garden center, pick up a few pots of these decorative plants.

You can experiment to see how well they add volume, scale and seasonal interest to window boxes, planters or containers.