November 24, 2011

Winter Urns, a tutorial

Computer issues and a tight schedule have kept me from the computer of late. Hoping this tutorial is not too late for some of you.........but then again, the design principles shown here could also be employed for interior arrangements set into floral foam. Well, enough "disclosures", let's move onto the the creation of a traditional winter arrangement
My favorite is the spruce tree toppers. They add the element of height and bulk
Inserted straight up, a cluster adds an instant base

Dogwood sticks; red, yellow, etc. continues the element of verticality

Additionally set in an upright fashion
As we move on the best advice I can impart is, use a variety of evergreen forms and textures. For example if all evergreen bundles chosen have a similar needle, say all small like the spruce, nothing would "pop". A great choice here is the long needle of white pine to contrast with the short needle of the spruce.
Beginning at mid-level onto the bottom, insert at a 90 to 45 degree angle as you begin to fill these lower gaps 
(all creations will have a Dr. Seuss look mid-point, don't worry!)
LOVE coned cedar! Another texture, form (droopy) and the addition of mini cones
All inserted at the rim of the urn as a "spiller"
A few set at a 90 degree angle to bring the coned ends higher towards eye level
Whopper cones, the "jeffrey" cones.

My "have to haves", red berries and in this case, hard plastic red berries for season long impact. Actually, many seasons...... Try to avoid styrofoam, they burst and will look like popcorn mid winter. The real winterberries soon turn black and drop

Real alder cones on faux stems. Why faux stems? To hold the clusters of diminutive pinecones. Another benefit of faux is the pliable stems

Boxwood. A great mid filler and another contrasting texture

Always stepping back, I will tend to add more of the previously used until satisfied. Does this help? Don't be timid, and have fun!

General Tips;
1) buy twice as much as you think you will need
2) think "filler", "thriller" and "spiller"
3) Use opposing textures
4) When complete, mist with water and then an anti-dessicant, such as 'wilt-pruf', it holds in moisture and adds double the lifespan of your creation

I would love to see your efforts, send me photos



  1. Hi Debra! Love your tutorial! You make it look so easy. This might seem silly to you but is there dirt in your urn or something else that you are sticking everything in to hold it up? Thank you! Christina

    1. I'd love to know this too. Our area is windy and foam core didn't hold so any suggestions would be fabulous

  2. Where did you get your urn! I have been trying to find large ones that look great but to no avail!

  3. This is beautiful! Thank you for the detailed directions. And for Jared….
    Hobby Lobby has large urns that look similar to these pictured!

  4. The finished urn is fantastic! This is exactly the look I wanted for my porch but I had no idea how to begin! Thanks a bunch!!

  5. I just purchased two large plastic urns at Walmart. They are a very nice quality and I think they were $29 each. Should be marked down by now. I am going to use them first as indoor decor at my Christmas party, filled with poinsettias. I was wondering how to use them throughout the winter flanking our front door. After seeing this I know what to do, and I have most of the materials right in my yard. Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. So lovely. Thanks for the tutorial. However, can you tell me where you source the plastic red berries? I've learned through experience to avoid the Styrofoam ones but cannot find plastic that isn't too orangey in color.
    Thanks very much!

  7. yes laura i can help. my shop carries a multitude of varieties. we are just a post office away. as we near next year get in touch

  8. Hi Debra,

    Thanks for the tutorials. That is looking same as i wanted for memorial home. Have a Good Day !

    Memorial Gold Pendants

  9. I just saw this on Pinterest, and the urns are beautiful....question....about how long would these look good? before the greens start turning brown? Or can you say how long yours looked good last year?

  10. Beautiful! Anyone know what size the urn is?!

  11. yes terah, i can tell you that they are 3.5' high and 2.5'diameter

  12. Hi I write the weekly newspaper column Design Forward and would like to feature this urn in an article I'm doing this week. Could you please send me a hi-res image? Please include photo credits. Thank you, Vicki Payne

  13. to vicki
    please leave me an email address so i can respond

  14. Hi. Can you please provide suggestions on where to purchase spruce toppers?

  15. i carry tree toppers at my shop in geneva, il. who might carry them elsewhere is unfortunately something i do not know

  16. Hi, How do I purchase the red berries from your shop? Do you have the faux pine cones as well?

  17. hello unknown. you can call the shop.
    scentimental gardens
    geneva, il

  18. Just stumbled upon this! How wonderful!!

  19. Perfect! We will be doing this!


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