The Window Box Contest sponsored jointly by Boston's Beacon Hill Garden Club and the Beacon Hill Association was started in 1958 under the chairmanship of Mrs. Houlder Hudgins. Today, there are more than 350 window boxes on the historic Hill. To aid participants in the project, literature is distributed with instructions on how to make window boxes, how to secure them firmly, how to fill them with soil, what kinds of plants to grow and what care to give. Most important were the plant lists, suggesting the best kinds for sun and shade. Since the Hill is located in the heart of the city, soil was distributed free to all residents who needed it. During the first year, a crew of forty boys delivered the soil in pails, in many instances hauling it up several flights of
stairs to occupants who had no other way of getting it.
Judging each year takes place in late July, when the boxes look their best. At the end of the season, there is a general meeting at which color slides of the boxes are shown and awards are made. There are two grand prizes, one for the "best individual window box on Beacon Hill" and the other for the "best group of two or more window boxes on a single building." The four top prizes consist of two silver trays and two Paul Revere bowls. In addition, potted plants are offered by merchants on the Hill, as well as other donors. There are two prizes in the children's division.
Window boxes, other containers, and pots and tubs at doorways, have made this old section of Boston more distinctive. "A new idea for Boston," read the application blanks, "a contest which combines the fun of gardening with the pleasure of making Beacon Hill a more beautiful and enjoyable place in which to live."
In New York City
Extensive planting of streets and buildings in New York City began in 1956 when Mrs. Mary Lasker persuaded the Park Department to allow her to plant four blocks along Park Avenue with tulips. Amazed at her success, despite the soot and grime, they gave her permission
to plant twenty-two Park Avenue blocks the next year and there adopted the enthusiastic beautification program known as "Salute the Seasons." Its purpose is to bring beauty to the downtown areas of New York by planting trees, shrubs and flowers and by setting up window boxes and tubs at shops, banks, hotels, museums, and churches. As the theme suggests, flowers are changed according to the season, with pansies and bulbs in spring, geraniums, begonias and other annuals in summer, and chrysanthemums in fall. Offering valuable information, with instructions on kinds to grow and when and where to plant, is a practical booklet prepared under the direction of the New York City Department of Parks in cooperation with the Department of Commerce and Public Events.