Friday, November 13, 2015
Posted By: in Container Gardening

Laurelle shows you how to create a bit of WOW with a winter planter or grouping that will add a bit of welcome sparkle and light to brighten up the dark days of winter!

Layering live evergreen plants with cut greens will give your planter depth, texture and colour. You can add a touch of whimsy and personality with bells, twinkle lights, lanterns or other hard features. The cut greens stay fresh with a minimum of effort because of the cold and moisture that we generally have plenty of on the West Coast.

If your planters are under cover, ensure the soil is moist but not wet. This usually means only watering once every couple of weeks. I generally am not worried about planting shade plants in a full sun exposure. Because the temps are much cooler, you don’t have to worry about our weaker winter sun baking those shade lovers like Wintergreen or Ferns. Be sure to plant tighter than you would with a summer planter as they will not be filling out in the winter. What you see now is what you will likely have at the end of the winter. I like to leave an inch or so of space around the lip of the planter to give me somewhere to add my cut greens for edging. If you have added some bulbs to your arrangement mark the area on the pot with a temporary sticker so you don’t forget where you put them when shuffling around your plants!

Some of my favorite plants for winter interest:

Plants for Winter Planters

Miniature Conifers

The list is extensive, even smaller conifers that can be replanted in the spring in the garden bed will do. Pines and Lemon Cypress are among my favorites. I also like to use Yew trees for that tall columnar focal point and wrap them in white twinkle lights.

Skimmia

Love the glossy leaves, red berries and fragrant flowers in the winter!!

Wintergreen

Red berries, glossy evergreen leaves and a fragrance when crushed…what’s not to love.

Evergreen Ferns

From the bold glossy leaved Hart’s Tongue Fern to the finer textured smaller Deer Fern, evergreen ferns are a staple in my winter displays.

Evergreen Grasses

The Carex family has both fine textured grasses such as Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’ and the wider leaved variegated Carex morrowi ‘Ice Dance’ and Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ are just a few the great grass choices.

Heuchera

There are a number of evergreen versions with the lush colour saturated leaves.

Ivy

This evergreen always gives me pause. Unleashed on your garden this can become a menace. Hanging gracefully in your winter planter it creates a traditional bit of colour and drape. I pull it out at the end of the winter and put it in my Surrey Green Bin.

Holly

We get in some lovely variegated types that give me a splash of colour and interest especially if they are berried up. If I can’t fine a nice little dwarf holly bush I use the cut greens.

Aucuba

This very large shade lover looks amazing with its large glossy green and gold leaves and red berries. If you have a more sheltered spot and can find a small version of these it might be worth putting in your planter. In spring, toss it into the backyard in full shade with plenty of elbow room and you will have fantastic cut greens to add to your planter forever more!

Bulbs!!

I love to add a package or two of Snowdrops, Crocus and even Mini-Daffodils for a late winter surprise. As my greens start to dry by February I’ll pull them and what should be coming up in those spots but my spring bulbs yay!!

Winter Greens

Cut Greens

I often wait for a big windstorm and then go for a dog walk with some pruners and nab some of the fallen greens and cones. When adding your cut greens better to cut long. If I am using a softer side branch…especially with Douglas Fir, I will cut not only the side piece but try to get a couple of inches of the main or stronger branch with it so I can jam that into the soil. Many of the cut greens have vastly different colour and texture depending on weather you use them right side up or upside down. Try to go with a theme and layer.

Greens for Winter Planters

Pines

I adore soft needled pines and usually add a few pieces hanging out of the planter as finishing touches. They really soften up an arrangement.

Noble Fir

Lovely as Christmas trees and great in cut arrangements to add a bit of formal texture and stiffness not to mention that lovely green blue hue.

Douglas Fir

I do like to use a lot of Douglas fir as my base. I like the deep green of the top side as well as the silvery look of the underside. The more cones the better as far as I’m concerned.

Cedar

Incredible aroma and soft texture. It’s great for a finishing touch.

Juniper

We get in some lovely branches full of Juniper berries for some real texture and interest. The ones I’ve used are a silvery blue green.

Red Twig Dogwood

I use this as my height and structure as well as colour. Generally they root by the end of the winter and you can start your own shrub which you can coppice (prune back close to the ground) each year around this time to get lots of fresh new red twigs.

Curly Willow

One of my favorites! The curly golden to orange red branches make a stunning thriller in my planters giving height, colour and a bit of whimsy. These will also root by the end of the winter and you can plant in the yard and also coppice it each year for cut twigs.

Whimsy

This bit is entirely up to you! If your planter or grouping is at the front door you can add a bit of colour either from the door itself or even the interior. You can bling up your planters with twinkle lights, bows, Christmas balls, bells or even lanterns in varying sizes and colours. You can Christmas up your planters for November and December; this is often the final resting place of Christmas ornaments that are ready to be retired in my household. After Christmas you can adjust your planters slightly to maintain the winter sparkle and glow for January and February.

The best place to display your winter planter is without a doubt the front entrance, failing that any place you will walk by or look at from the window is the next best thing. If hanging them, be sure to hang them low as the best viewing is looking down into them. Don’t be afraid to try groupings or to add different hard features with them, experiment and for Heaven’s sake don’t forget to have fun while you are mucking about!

Cheers - Laurelle!

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle is a certified horticulturalist and Landscape designer. She is currently an up and coming apple guru, growing over 120 cultivars which explains her passion for edible garden design. Laurelle works part time for Art’s Nursery. You can also interact with her through Art’s monthly newsletter, our blog and our gardening channel on YouTube.


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