Garden artist plants Society Hill’s iconic window boxes [photos]

 Elizabeth Jacoby quit her day job to turn her gardening skills into a business. (Emma Jacobs/WHYY)

Elizabeth Jacoby quit her day job to turn her gardening skills into a business. (Emma Jacobs/WHYY)

Elizabeth Jacoby had the back of her gray SUV stuffed with leafy and flowering plants but, says don’t be impressed.  “This is nothing. I had a 10-foot palm tree in my car. I get standing ovations at nurseries. People are like, ‘oh my God, it’s never going to fit.'”

Jacoby uses all this greenery to fill roof decks, planters and iconic window boxes of Center City Philadelphia.

A few weeks ago, switching out spring plants for hardier summer ones in front of a historic brick row home in Society Hill, she explained she was working to match the house’s purple door.

She had added small, bright yellow lantana that smell like lemons, tall stalks of purple, white and pink angelonia. Last, she planted fuchsia-colored daisy-like blooms called “strawflowers.”

Jacoby had an office job when she first started weeding a co-worker’s garden. Having gardened since age 16, she regretted having no space of her own, and kept finding more gigs, eventually quitting her day job.

“I didn’t have a garden, and then I had a lot of gardens,” she said. “I had a million gardens.”

The gardener teaches the owners of the flower boxes how to do basic upkeep to water and fertilize the plants throughout the season. Her enthusiasm can be infectious.

“They call me because they don’t know anything about plants,” she said. “The best part of my job is unfortunately when they don’t need me anymore.”

That’s because they’ve started planting their own boxes, from start to finish.

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