December 1, 2013

Winter Containers 2013

 As I write this on December 1st, with a slight panic in my heart, I am thinking of what yet needs to be accomplished. Furiously we are creating outdoor containers for our clients as the season descends.
 As a landscape designer, the gardens' interest needs to be equally lovely, in a different way, during the winter season. One element we can add for instant winter gratification, is by adorning our outdoor containers; urns, window boxes and hanging baskets are all candidates.
We offer a massive variety of boughs, sticks, berries and faux. If this is a new venture for you, or if you could use inspiration, let's look at some of the containers completed for our clients up to now

* choose a variety of greens with varying textures and shapes

* choose elements that blend with the colors of your home
From the bottom up;
silver fir, silver dollar eucalyptus, silver glittered vine balls, spruce, variegated oregano, skimmia, glittered birch stems
All coordinates with the homes color ways
Blue coned cedar, white tipped extra large pine cones, tallow berries, oregano, blue coned cedar, repeated
The tallow berries up close. These are faux, a hard plastic that will last year after year. Real tallow berries are on short rigid stems that is difficult to work with, the faux have longer, pliable stems.....LOVE these!
Against a white house, I recommend dark, rich colors. The addition of the white painted birch sticks ties everything together

Take a look at the magnolia leaf, it adds textural contrast. A thought for you is this, "a large leafed specimen lends order". In these containers or in the ground, a large leaf eliminates a messy appearance with too many small leaves. This is a faux magnolia! The real ones fade and curl up quickly when exposed to cold. These remain "fresh" and pliable. Choose a good quality, variety with the brown reverse leaf
A dark corner is embellished with white painted birch sticks
To fill in the gap from the containers edge we have laid two boxwood wreaths
One large, topped by a smaller size. Wreaths are a good choice for these type of containers;
* low
* the container has beautiful rim detailing that you do not want to conceal with draping boughs
* classic and long lasting
We use double wreaths in varying sizes is to add girth
Such a classic urn and plinth can accommodate dramatic flourishes. Here we added a mixed evergreen garland that undulates, drapes around the container and tumbles down. I envisioned the side protruding garland to replicate urn handles. The garland is wired to the tower of red twig dogwood
The choice here was to keep the wire obelisks, that supports Mandevilla in the summer, in place with a mixed garland wending around the obelisk. The towering height and massiveness of this home calls for a large arrangement to balance the scale.

Anytime you spy red berries in any of our compositions, they are faux. The ever popular winterberry is expensive and turns black with the onset of cold. All of mine are again, hard plastic for multiple years 
At the top of the obelisk I made a small swag for the peak; long needle pine, german boxwood (longer stems), silver dollar eucalyptus and pheasant feathers
Wouldn't this be a lovely composition for the back of dining chairs, tied with a satin ribbon?
Every day we have been outdoors has been bitter cold and sunny, the latter makes for poor photographs.....sorry for that!
Wilt-Stop or Wilt-Pruf are 'anti-dessicants', that is, they aid in retaining moisture for evergreens in the ground or for cut boughs. Our final step is a good drenching.........I highly recommend this step for prolonged beauty.
Incense cedar (yellow seeds at it's ends), juniper, long needled pine, silver bell eucalyptus and red huck which is similar to boxwood but has red stems with red/caramel/green leaves.
The silver belled eucalyptus add an interesting texture, lovely drape and a blue/white coloration. May I recommend these remain outdoors? Once indoors and once the drying process begins, a pungent scent of cat urine takes hold......a horrible surprise if entertaining! 
Another beautiful rimmed container that should be seen, necessitates this up facing design
Spruce, inserted upwards facing, Oregano and faux Berries
Taking a cue from the home's elements we chose red twig dogwood; see the outdoor pillow on the porch chaise? Gold outdoor ornaments; a color in the pillow, and brown outdoor ornaments to blend with the dark brown exposed timbers

Next week, a colonial Williamsburg design with an abundance of faux fruit, rustic charm for an extensive farm setting............



  1. gorgeous inspiration and the nudge i need to get decking the halls. hope your holiday was magical.


  2. So gorgeous Debra! I keep going back to review the photos. Your work is incredible. Thanks for the inspiration and I hope you will have a chance to relax a bit once the holiday crush is behind us (although it's only starting...!)


  3. I didn't know you could use that silver dollar eucalyptus outside. I thought it might turn black. I love the pheasant feathers and might have to steal that idea.

  4. Happy December, Debra. Thanks for sharing all your beautiful arrangements and tips. You have used a lot of twigs and branches, and I love how they look! Great height and textures. Always wonderful to see your fabulous work!

  5. Utterly gorgeous, every one of them. I just bought the eucalyptus bells -- how glad I am that I read this before I put them in the table arrangement I was planning!!! Your work is amazing.

  6. Love your style! I'm going to have to pin some of these...your work is amazing!

  7. Debra, everything looks fabulous! I wrote a post last night about the same thing, to post next week. I hope that you do not mind but I used some of your old images and added a link to your landscape design firm Sentimental gardens.

    Have a great week!

  8. HI Debra,
    I always love to see the gorgeous designs you create for the holiday urns! I had not seen the silver eucalyptus bells before and they add so much to the arrangements.
    The Arts by Karena

  9. Debra,
    I'm so happy you posted this...I always get such great ideas for my containers from you. The faux tallow berries are now on my list to try to track down here on the west coast. The white is such a welcome change for winter.
    I hope you can embark on your own Christmas 'to do' list soon! :D

  10. Really well done Debra! I can see you have been busy...I bet your clients love to see you arrive.

  11. These are so beautiful! I still haven't touched my planters I need to get on that! Can't wait to get together and catch up! xoxo Edyta

  12. Thanks for all of the great ideas! Merry Christmas!
    xo, lissy

  13. These are ALL so gorgeous, Debra!

  14. Your planters are beautiful! I'm going to be working on mine tomorrow...I always love using white or red branches as they give some height and are light and airy in contrast with the greens. Last year I invested in faux red berry branches and they are the best! Totally worth it! Your planters with the white branches and boxwood wreaths are brilliant! Happy holidays!

  15. Debra,
    Your clients are SO lucky to have you! My pots and window boxes got done today and I know you'll approve!! Similar to last years with a few tweaks. I know this is a crazy busy time of year for you, so I hope that you get to enjoy some quiet moments!

    Merry merry!
    xoxo Elizabeth

  16. Hi Debra - beautiful ideas and especially the Wilt Stop!! My south-facing front door wreath always bakes in the sun and turns brown by the end of December.

    Gee, I wish we had boxwood here in Calgary (zone 3). I love it. We have lots of snow, so I know what you mean about interest in a winter garden. I love my dogwood branches and our dwarf conifer bed...

    xo Terri

  17. I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Interior design ideas

  18. Debra I always save so many of your posts and this is definitely a keeper- The way you do containers and window boxes is amazing!! Thanks for the GORGEOUS inspiration!!

  19. Such inspiration to get in the holiday mode. I live on the west coast where rain is common in the winter. Do your artificial berry stems hold up to rain? I have yet to find any that do not melt or peel.

  20. to unknown they will last perfectly intact for YEARS


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