Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday containers

Just a few accents make all the difference

Whoever wrote "Deck the halls with boughs of holly.." must have overlooked the fact that there are also gifts to buy, truckloads of cookies to bake and a never ending stream of visitors at this time of year! As much as we all love the holiday season this extensive 'to do' list can seem a little overwhelming. However, in just a few minutes you can create a simple seasonal container to welcome your guests in style; and you probably have everything you need already at home.
Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue' looks festive with
berries and curly willow branches

Keep things simple. Just one or two key evergreen plants may be all that you need; after that you can cheat! A beautiful variegated holly can stay in a large container all year long and be dressed up according to the season. I simply add cut boughs of evergreens from around the garden such as arborvitae, laurel, box honeysuckle, leucothoe, boxwood and threadleaf false cypress in varying shade of green, supplemented by pine and juniper branches purchased at a local nursery. Push the stems into the soil, water well, and the cut branches will look fabulous for weeks.

Dwarf conifers, Euphorbias (spurge) and variegated Pieris (andromeda) can also serve as the focal point with curly willow or colorful dogwood twigs adding temporary height if needed. The aim is to create a lush look overflowing with assorted evergreens in a variety of colors and textures.

Accents in red and silver tied into the clients
interior holiday decorating colors.

Accent the arrangement with pine cones and decorative berried branches. Even artificial berries can be used but don’t do what I did; I used plastic coated berries in an exposed container which received direct rain. The next morning there was a trail of red sludge winding its way down my path. The coloring had washed off and it looked as though I had murdered the plants! Keep ‘indoor’ berries for protected porches!

For the finishing touch, I like to nestle large glass baubles into the foliage in colors which complement any nearby holiday decorations such as door wreaths. Wired ribbon bows, tiny bells, and other seasonal accents can also be added, according to your container location.

Cyclamen need to be in a protected area.
If you prefer a simple, monochromatic look try a silver and white color scheme highlighting the beautiful bold foliage of cyclamen. These will give a stunning display in sheltered areas until the first hard frost. If you ‘plant’ the cyclamen still in their pots, they can be quickly removed and replaced with something else when they finish blooming.

So celebrate the holidays and welcome your guests with simple, well designed containers which still leave you plenty of time to enjoy the season.

(This article has been adapted from one which I originally wrote for the Washington State Nursery and Landscape association in 2009)

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