The gale has done for my row of Coleus on the shelf in the porch. I bought them as a pack of six small plants and put each into an individual five inch terracotta pot which initially seemed overly large, and has recently seemed rather small relative to the height of the plants. They had two-tone leaves, with a lime green outer zone and a dark red heart, and I enjoyed the way the ones at the back where it is shadier grew tallest and with more and brighter green in their leaves, while the one at the front was the shortest and reddest. I liked the way they grew into and around each other, neatly fitting together into one tiered whole. They soon told me if they needed watering, by drooping pathetically, and they needed water most days, but they did pretty well.
And then a gust in yesterday's gale sent the pots crashing to the ground, just as it did the begonias* last year. Two of the pots broke, and most of the plants were smashed past saving. The stocky specimen from the front was relatively uninjured, and I took it down to the conservatory in a fit of sentiment and because it will look quite at home in there, but the rest are now set to become crocks and compost. Alas. The Systems Administrator asked me the other day if they were OK up there, and in truth they were not, but short of standing them all down on the floor which rather negated the point of having them there wasn't a lot I could do about it.
The SA suggested that what I needed was a box to stop them tipping over. A half hour's search on the web over a mug of coffee produced precisely one trough that was the right size, long enough without being too wide. It was as it happened quite an attractive design, a fairly plain affair in glass fibre. I discovered two web sites selling it, one pricing it at £96 and the other at £105. The cheaper of the two said that there was a six to eight week delay on that product, and the only phone number given was a mobile. I didn't feel totally reassured, and anyway I didn't want to spend as much as ninety six quid to stop half a dozen flower pots falling off a shelf.
Help is at hand. The SA on hearing how much window boxes were has agreed to make a neat, plain restraint out of wood for next summer's pots. Winter is not an issue, since I'll probably do cyclamen again and they don't get top heavy like Coleus and begonias. With any luck once the SA starts the project can expand to include a little stand for the auriculas as well. There are some nice wooden ones in some of the catalogues, but they are phenomenally expensive for what is only, when you strip it down to essentials, a few pieces of wood.
*The begonias were the variety 'Glowing Embers', with dark leaves and orange flowers. They had made tubers by the autumn, and I kept them in their individual pots over the winter in the greenhouse, watering them very sparingly. One died and four lived. The survivors were moved into one big pot and have made a vast and gaudy mound of bronze and orange in a sheltered, shady space by the conservatory. They were slow to come back into leaf, but then made up for lost time. If you have been tempted by 'Glowing Embers' in your local garden centre and can store them frost free, and more to the point have somewhere to start them into growth in the spring, it's worth bothering, since three plug plants from Thompson and Morgan would set you back £9.99.