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Notes from our plant workshop at The Sill NYC

While we were in New York last week, we stopped by The Sill’s Upper West Side garden center to lead a window box plant workshop. Our students were a dream—so curious and ready to plant, and in the end, proud of their creations. We were thrilled to be their teachers for an evening! When everyone left with their boxes, it felt like graduation.

The Sill plant workshop

Meet our fabulous plant pupils!

The class sold out in a just a couple days. We didn’t even have a chance to promote it on our social channels! But if we’re keeping it 100, we must confess something first: While our NYC workshop was a hot ticket, our prior attempt to lead a workshop at The Sill in West Hollywood didn’t fare as well. It got cancelled due to low signups; maybe because of the Bring Your Own Box requirement? So in NYC we kept it simple and made sure everyone received a new box at the workshop. Not to mention, it’s much easier to do a DIY if everyone’s working with the same materials. The lesson here being don’t give up when you’ve got an idea you believe in.

The session took place on a pleasantly warm Wednesday at 7:30 PM. During our preps beforehand, we got to enter a bona fide New York shop basement, which lies beneath those large metal flaps on the sidewalk you’re half-afraid you’ll fall into whenever you walk over them. We took the stairs, and were transported to a secret stockpile of pots and houseplant supplies.

Aboveground, the workshop was intimate, with just five students, us two co-Horts, and members of The Sill’s smart and upbeat team. The boxes were 18″x6″ in “Natural Firm Wood,” acquired wholesale for $12.34 each by the shop. The plants we requested included:

x5 ZZ plant 4″
x5 Birdnest fern 4″
x5 Calathea Freddie 4″
x5 Pothos jade 4″
x5 Calathea rattlesnake 4″
x5 Neon pothos 4″
x25 Assorted air plants (small to medium)

The most popular at the workshop were the neon pothos and the ZZ plant.

Experience levels among our guests/students ran a gamut, which led to a lively conversation—there were seasoned plant parents who could vouch for the grit of the ZZ, and there were newbies with questions that served as good refreshers for everyone.

As our aspirational display, we used the Bloom Bungalow Window Box and Trellis (a special collaboration between TerraTrellis and The Horticult), in the velvety oxide/oxide option.

And yes, there was wine.

We added DIY trellises inspired by the Tiny Island bromeliad box chapter in our book.

Stained wood posts screwed in easily to the interior of the boxes. The posts were pre-drilled by Ryan so students could slip in dowels.

 

We kicked off by talking a little bit about The Horticult—who we are, and about our book How to Window Box. (Everyone got a signed copy.) We selected plants, arranged them, and planted them with The Sill-branded organic potting soil.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Horticult workshop without a DIY. So we also built on our boxes! Using poles and dowels hand-stained by Ryan (who brought them all the way from California), we easily attached trellises for air plants and pothos vines. The posts screwed in easily to the interior of the boxes. The posts were also pre-drilled by Ryan so students could slip in dowels to create a trellis in seven minutes flat. Want to make your own? Head to “The Tiny Island” chapter on page 48 of How to Window Box for inspiration and the “Add a Trellis” spread on page 164 for the complete DIY.

What started as light empty boxes and a smorgasbord of plants became 10-pound mini-gardens that needed to be transported home on the LIRR, the subway, in Lyfts and in cabs. But before everyone packed it in for the night, we took photos—together as a workshop, and individually, each with her own box.

We can’t wait to hear how their new houseplants are settling in.

—TH

oxidized steel window box and trellis

Want one of your own? Check out what we designed in collaboration with our friends at TerraTerra trellis: The Bloom Bungalow Window Box and Trellis. Choose from the full design and the box-only option.

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