This is my favorite time of year, not because of the holidays or the weather, but because of the plants we have to work with.
Plants include branches, seed heads, ornaments and other elements we snip from the landscape or buy at garden centers, nurseries, farmers markets, grocers and other retailers.
The textures, forms and shades of evergreen branches pair wonderfully with red- or yellow-stem dogwoods, willows, birch branches, boxwood, stems of Russian sage or the dried flowers of hydrangeas.
Poke plants in the soil of an all-weather container on the porch, balcony or patio, by the mailbox, at the end of the driveway, in view of the kitchen window or in a flowerbed. If you’ve already emptied soil from the pot, fill it with mulch and poke away.
Pots with greenery are easy to assembly. You can start in the center and build out or start on the edges and build in. If the pot will be seen from all sides, put the tallest branches in the middle. If seen from one side, but them at the back.
For the edges of the container, use evergreen branches that drape, such as incense cedar, western cedar or other arborvitae. If using branches that naturally bend upward, such as Douglas fir, Fraser fir or pine, invert them so they bend down to cover the edge of the pot. Fir branches tend to be blue on the underside and green on the top, which add another color and texture to the mix.
For the center, branches of curly willow, dogwood and birch do the trick. Spray paint brown branches red, green, silver, gold or other colors to compliment the pot or home. Cut branches of hollies also work nicely as a centerpiece.
Leave dried hydrangea blooms tan or brown for a more natural look, or spray paint them red, gold or other colors and use as filler. Fill in with salal, huckleberry or branches from evergreens. Or use faux branches of hollies, strands of shiny beads, plastic ornaments and other glittery items from craft stores and other retailers. Attach a wired weatherproof ribbon or bow for a festive look.
The nice thing about winter arrangements in containers is you don’t have to actually plant or water anything. Just stick the branches or stems in the soil. It’s easy to pull them out to rearrange and fill in any empty spots.
Once the holidays have passed, remove reds and other colors. Some of the greenery will hold its color well into early spring and some will turn brown. In my mind, the pots still look attractive because of the hues and textures.