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Arranging the season’s treasures 

EVERY WINTER, I head to the garden and harvest branches and boughs, twigs and berries, and I transform them into arrangements to decorate my outdoor containers. Just because it’s cold and dreary outside doesn’t mean my containers need to be dull and empty. 

I start with a plastic nursery liner with sand in the bottom for stability. Once my fresh arrangement is complete, I can drop it into my outdoor container, and voila! Winter beauty. 

There are lots of greens, stems and berries to harvest from my garden without interrupting the plants’ natural shape and beauty. Garden shops also sell lots of bundles of lush and fragrant greenery just for decorating during the winter holidays. 

Pine, spruce, juniper and arborvitae boughs can make a nice base. Fill your liner with enough of these branches to snugly support the next decorative layer. You can cut holly, hypericum or nandina berries and insert those throughout your green base. Next, choose an accent green like a few boughs of a golden arborvitae, white pine or grey owl juniper and place those around your berries. 

If you need a large arrangement, take a long, straight bough, a small evergreen sapling or a 2-foot cut tabletop Christmas tree and place it right in the center. Next, I like to add small bare branches from river birch or red and yellow twig dogwood. If you have pinecones in the garden, you can add those last. You may have to glue or wire them to a floral pick to keep them from blowing out. 

When you finish, drop the liner or base into an outdoor container so it sits level. You can stabilize it by nesting it into the existing potting soil. 

The cooler the winter, the longer your arrangement will last and look fresh. It’s a whole new way to enjoy your beautiful garden— holiday style. 

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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