I’ve always liked container gardening – cute bunnies holding armloads of flowers, baskets overflowing with blooms, cupid pottery set on tabletops to bring color to unexpected places.

A trip to Germany and Austria reawakened my love for window boxes. I love to stuff them with flowers in the warm months, pumpkins in the fall, and fresh greens for the winter. It’s a special treat if the greens trap some snow – somehow it seems to frame the window, giving it the appearance of an old-fashioned Christmas postcard. And so, when we opened the inn, I wanted to have flowers everywhere – in the gardens, on the porches, in vases in the rooms, hanging from the windows…. Of course, the reality of having window boxes is that I’ve seen small nursery plants carried away by birds looking for nesting material, pumpkins dropped from the second story as I tried to arrange them through open windows, and greens blown away by fierce winter winds. Ah, well—they are still undeniably romantic. Like a string of pearls around a neck, window boxes make the inn look “dressed.”

Lancaster County has a unique style when it comes to container gardening. Locals here pretty much invented the word “frugal”. They never throw anything out that still has a useful purpose. And talk about creative! You can’t help but be inspired. This explains why I now plant flowers in a chicken feeder, pig trough, coal bucket, old washtub, and wringer washer. I’ve created a mini-herb garden in an old roaster, and made a centerpiece of primroses in metal canning containers.

Maybe it’s the whimsy that I like – the look of surprise on guests’ faces when they realize what they are looking at.


So enjoy the color and playful “pots” when you visit. But beware—this knack for pairing plants and innovative containers is quite contagious, and I’ve often heard guests say, “You know, I have one of those gathering dust in the basement…”
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