Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Creating a Festive Winter Container

Last year’s Winter Wonderland article paved the way to a practice what I preach moment. This fall I transplanted into a newly created berm in the front yard most of what became overcrowded in my 24” container garden from last winter. It was important that I included with my new perennial planting the much anticipated spring bloom of both hyacinths and tulips; beautiful reminders of when spring has arrived.

What remained in the container was a 2 ½ year old Juniperus ‘Wiltonii’ along with new April additions of Abelia Sunshine Daydream and Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’ and a big empty spot in the middle. To fix the hole I added a Buxus ‘Green Mountain’ #3 with a nice full base. As you can see, with winter on its way, the need for some vibrant color.

One inexpensive way to dress up a winter container is to make a popcorn–cranberry garland. After gathering up the needed essentials of fresh cranberries and air popped popcorn, I grabbed some cookies and milk to keep from eating the intended popcorn trim. Calculating the length of the garland was simple as I wrapped measuring tape from around the base to the top of the Boxwood. I surprisingly had a little over 9 foot of string to cut. Tying string around the first and last cranberry in the strand holds the garland together well. Simply alternate the red and white colors in any sequence. Tip: if the needle gets stuck in the popped kernels, have a pair of pliers ready to pull it through.

It’s quite easy to make your own holiday decorations. In the photo below, red 20 gauge wire was twisted to assemble three bells together and bent to create a hanger. Tape your pliers or risk scratching the coating on the wire when you twist and bend it. A wire cutter is needed to trim off the wire from the roll.

It was key for me to create a full transformation of the existing container into something much more - a look that is bold and vibrant, festive and inviting of the holidays to the neighborhood and my guests. The contrasting color of red was chosen to enhance the containers charm. Therefore, stem picks and stems containing bright red berries are used for interest and to fill in voids. A drooping stem of pine cones with an iced appearance adds to the overall winter container form, balance and theme. Even with the floral picks and stems, bells and lights added; something is missing…

…the draping of the popcorn–cranberry garland is the final touch in the creation of this outdoor winter container - taking it from a mere bland beginning and turning it into something grand and festive. An added benefit of the garland is attracting feathery friends. Subtle illumination brightens the container at night with the soft white LED micro lights chosen for their outdoor use and thin, silver decorative wire that works well with the fine foliage of the boxwood. The battery operated lights include a convenient 6 hour on and 18 hour off timer.

As you can see in the creation of an inviting and festive outdoor winter container, multiple species can be used besides some of the more traditional arborvitae, pines, spruces and holly. This is a great time to start planning for 2016 fall and winter container decorating workshops and classes at your nursery or garden center and what live containers you will need.

Sheila Balaun, Inventory Control, Loma Vista Nursery

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