When fall robbed all the color from the yard, we fought back with a rustic wooden flower box fastened on the deck railing to hold colorful pansies through the winter, spring, and early summer. Here in the South, fancy 3-inch pansies of astonishing color variation survive winter’s freezing temperatures and a little ice and snow without problem. If your northern region has a harsher winter, check the local garden store to see if “winter pansies” or “ice pansies” can survive.
- pressure-treated lumber
- 8-foot length of one-by-six
- 3-foot length of two-by-six
- 1.5-foot lengths of two-by-two
- spiral galvanized nails
- galvanized screws
- miter box/saw
- electric drill/driver
1. Cut two 38-inch side panels and two 5.5-inch end panels from the one-by-six lumber.
2. Cut a single 35.5-inch bottom panel from the heavier two-by-six. This shorter length allows for the 1-inch thickness of the end panels plus 1/4 inch at each end as drainage slots. Varying these dimensions may make weight an issue–especially once the box is filled with soil and water.
3. Set the gauge on the miter box to 5 degrees and angle cut both vertical edges of the end panels. The end panels will then be wider at the top than at the bottom. The original milled edges on the one-by-six stock represent the top and bottom horizontal edges.
4. Pre-drill small nail holes with an electric drill. On the two side panels only, mark and drill two equally spaced holes about .5 inch from the vertical edges and three to four equally spaced holes along the bottom edge.
5. Lap the first side panel flush with the angled edges of the end panels and hammer spiral galvanized nails through the side panel into the edge of the end panels. Keep them flush as you nail. Turn the partially assembled box over and repeat this step to attach the other side.
6. Turn the open-bottomed box upright with the narrower opening downward. Drop in the bottom panel. Use a hammer and block of wood to tamp the bottom down so that all the lower edges are flush. Nail through the pre-drilled holes on the long edge of the side panel into the bottom.
7. Flip the box upside down to expose the bottom. Cut and position a two-by-two brace about .5 inch in from each long edge of the flower box. Temporarily lay a scrap of two-by-four between them to ensure adequate spacing for the deck railing.
8. Pre-drill holes and secure the braces with galvanized screws. Position the flower box over the deck railing and drive a couple of screws through the braces into the rail on both sides. Braces are a safety measure to ensure that the cat cannot topple the flower box onto someone’s head!
9. Line the box with landscape cloth and fill with potting soil and pansies. Now, marvel at the color, sweet scent, and velvety texture of those pansies all winter!
text and photos by Sandra Simmons