At The James Chicago, we strive to surround our guests with beauty and inspiration. Sprout Home, only 3 miles from us on North Damen Avenue, is our valued partner in bringing floral design and live plants to all of our indoor and outdoor spaces, including the carefully curated planter boxes bordering the new JIMMY Patio. We asked Sprout Home to provide tips that anyone – from novice to green thumb – can use to bring more beauty to their own outdoor spaces. August is the ideal time to assess and tweak your outdoor plants and flowers:

Replace what isn’t working

If there are plants in your garden or boxes that are no longer thriving, and deadheading and proper watering are not helping, you may have a selection of plants that thrive in spring but do not love the heat of summer. When planting both perennials and annuals, Sprout Home suggests companion plants: plants that bloom early are paired with plants that come into their own in mid- to late summer. This will give you blooms from the beginning to the end of the season. If you have annuals that are no longer thriving, don’t be afraid to replace them with late summer or fall bloomers.


“Edit” may not be the first word you think of when it comes to plants, but it’s possible your garden or planters could benefit from a little editing. Rather than picking an assortment of everything you like, Sprout Home advises focusing on a plant that you like, and that thrives in your light and soil conditions, and then picking other plants that will bring out the best in that plant. You may not like orange flowers, but perhaps the addition of an orange flower is just what you need as an accent within your bed of purple flowers.

Ask for help

If your self-designed basket or planter just isn’t working out, bring it in to Sprout Home and they will help you put a specialized collection together that suits your tastes: symmetrical or asymmetrical; wild and trailing or compact and neat; or perhaps telling a color story with gradation from right to left, burgundy to purple or coral to orange.

Take a risk

It’s important to pick plants that suit your growing conditions, but beyond that, why not go tropical, mix in some herbs, or take a chance on a plant that you’ve never tried before? A planter or bed of annuals is a canvas that will be blank again next year. Have some fun!

Borrow a little inspiration, or a whole patio

One of Sprout Home’s favorite boxes at JIMMY Patio, a project executed in close collaboration Betsey Moser, The James’ style manager, is a combination of “black lace” sambucca (elderberry) which has very serrated purple/black leaves; delicate maiden hair ferns; and ruellia, in a lovely shade called “purple showers.”

Or, why not let the amazing mural of color and textures in the JIMMY Patio’s boxes be the backdrop for warm weather cocktails and an alfresco meal? To request reservations, email For patio hours, please visit JIMMY Patio.