ISSUE 45  |  London Calling

Small Space DIY: Tiny Trees for a Winter Window Box

November 12, 2014 2:30 PM

BY Erin Boyle

Sometimes I think it’s really the hot cider I like most at Christmas tree farms. But there’s also a chance of thin gingerbread cookies offered from inside a woodshed with an electric heater and a dusty braided rug. Then of course, there are the trees and the hunting for the perfect one, bucksaw in hand, ready at any moment to fell an exemplar.

But.  I haven’t visited a tree farm in years. I live in New York City without an apartment big enough to accommodate even the smallest cut specimen. So instead of filling my winter window boxes with wintry cuttings, I decided to create a kind of Christmas tree farm in miniature, on my Brooklyn windowsill.

Photography by Erin Boyle. 

Above: My tree of choice? Tiny European cypress trees. Two-inch potted European cypress were available for just $2.50 each on 28th Street the other day, and I scooped up a half dozen. I haven’t found a great online source, but check with your local florist; chances are you’ll find them near the poinsettias.

Above: To get the spacing right, I laid my tiny trees sideways in the window box before digging holes.

Above: To ensure the young plants last through the season, I loosened the roots before planting.

Above: In my larger box, I placed three slightly larger trees, among them a Mediterranean blue cypress I found at the flower market (a similar European Cypress Tree is available in 4.5-inch and 6-inch pots for from $7.99 to $14.99 at Hirt’s) and a beautiful wispy cypress that I found at GRDN.

Above: To add a floral touch, I added a cold-hardy helleborus. Rather than squeeze the plant into a too-small window box, I potted one in a White Clay Pot from Ben Wolff and propped it nearby. A slew of hellebore options are available online from Plant Delights Nursery; the similar Helleborus Niger ‘HGC Josef Lemperer’ is $16.

Above: A tiny but noble cypress next to my white helleborus. 

Above: Five tiny trees make one tiny forest.

Above: The view from one window ledge to the other.

Above: My miniature forest, braving sleet and snow and wintry gusts of cold air.

Above: And what else are you supposed to do but bedeck a tiny forest with tiny lights? Mine, a string of Starry String Lights from Restoration Hardware; 20 feet for $36.

Have room enough for a full-size tree? See DIY: Plant Your Christmas Tree in the Garden and Wanted Dead or Alive: The Perfect Christmas Tree