As the colors of summer and fall begin to fade, converting your summer pots to winter displays can brighten the landscape and your spirits.
According to the design staff at Embassy Landscape Group, the possibilities for winter themed pots are endless. A huge combination of materials, living, cut and artificial, are available to create the perfect outdoor seasonal display.
Choosing a container for a winter arrangement is the first step. Natural stone, metal, fiberglass and heavy plastics are good choices since they can stand up to repeated freezing and thawing of the winter months here in the Midwest. Placing the pot on a stand will keep it from freezing to the ground, reducing the chance of breakage. If you plan on including live or even cut materials in your design, then your container should have a drain hole.
A variety of living plants, such as trees, shrubs and some herbaceous perennials, do well in containers, as long as conditions are favorable. Generally, container plants need to be rated as hardy one to two zones colder than your zone. So, if you are in zone 6, look for plants that are hardy in either 4 or 5.
Containers with living and cut materials will need to be watered throughout the winter season, at least until the soil freezes solid in the container. Spraying anti-desiccant (Wilt-Pruf, Vapor Gard) on the living and cut materials also helps to protect them from drying winter winds and keeps them looking fresher longer. Cutting ends on a diagonal can also help evergreen branches absorb more water and stay hydrated a bit longer.
To begin designing a pot, decide on the focus and preferred style. Consider the architecture and color scheme of your house. What will complement it? Do you prefer a modern, sleek design or do you lean towards the more traditional? Do you like colors that coordinate or those that set each other off by contrast? Once those ideas are set, then it is time to select materials and create the pot.
The designers at Embassy follow the thriller, filler, spiller pattern of design. A thriller is a tall, striking piece for the center or backdrop of the design. It brings the eye to the piece. The filler is a medium piece surrounding the thriller and the spiller is something low that spills over the sides. The three work together to lead the eye throughout the entire work.
Joann, Embassy’s Seasonal Color Specialist, shared that her creations this year are featuring various types of evergreen branches, birch poles, yellow and red dogwood, magnolia leaves and cut branches in various colors. She also is adding a bit of glitter to some of the winter designs for a fun pop of added excitement.
Deciduous perennials that have winter interest such as interesting seed pods can be used, as well as ornamental grasses with beautiful plumes (seeds). Pine, spruce and holly are good choices for winter pots.
Pine cones, berries and fruit (real or artificial) make wonderful natural accent pieces, while ornaments, lights and festive bows that can withstand the elements can be striking. For a final piece of advice, Joann suggests using lighter colored decorations in locations that are darker to prevent displays from fading into the background.
The upcoming winter looks to be long,cold and grey. Why not brighten up your corner of the world by turning those sad summer pots into fabulous winter wonderlands?