Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Greening Up For The Holidays

Wouldn't you think "greening up" is an ecological term regarding our environment?  In the holiday container business it means building your container from the bottom up with greens, at least three types.

I attended a workshop at a local nursery this past weekend.  The weather was unusual in that it began in the middle 50's with a slight drizzle, and before I left the wind had whipped up and the temperature dropped into the low 40's.

Begin with the heavier evergreen branches such as Noble Fir

Now work in a triangle form for your other greens such as boxwood, huckleberry and variegated cedar.

Noble fir branches are recommended as a base because they are firm and strong, then interspersed with boxwood or red huckleberry in a triangle pattern, sort of like you would plant perennials, lastly with incense cedar or variegated cedar, or other evergreens like scotch pine or Fraser fir.  When the greening up is completed this is the time to spray with a product like Wilt Pruf (other brands on the market).

Noble Fir branches are usually sold whole (they look like a flat Christmas tree) cut in half for putting into containers.

Variegated and Incense Cedar

This is a display of small evergreens to add to your containers

Now is is embellishment time, pine cones, berries, magnolia leaves, winterberry, etc.  Do not spray a Wilt Pruf product on any berries, or they will turn black and have an early demise, magnolia leaves will become spotted.



Magnolia Leaves

Seed Pods (These hold up from year to year)

Tinted Eucalyptus


Winterberry (expensive but striking in an arrangement) do not spray with Wilt Pruf, berries will discolor.

Dried Pomegranate on placement sticks (I had to cut mine to fit in the smaller pots around the boxwood)

Silver Dollar Eucalyptus (This will not stay green through the winter).

Dried artichoke

Eucalyptus Pods

Cut all of your greens on an angle, sink into soil and water well when completed.  They will eventually freeze in place.  It was not recommended to use an oasis as they will deteriorate over the winter.  However, last year I had oasis in my cast iron planters in a plastic bowl and they were fine.

This is a huge planter, not one that most of us would have on our property, but it does give us a good idea of how many different elements go into an arrangement to make it interesting.

A smaller arrangement that most of us can relate to

Grapevine spheres, some painted and some natural

The greening up is completed, sprayed the Wilt Pruf and then began adding the embellishments - not done yet!

I painted my dried hydrangeas with Ace Hardware Burgundy colored outdoor spray paint and an indoor antique gold/green spray (which I had to seal with a clear coat because it wasn't for outdoors). 

Painted spheres and hydrangeas

This is a completed arrangement, lots of materials used and expensive.  Many of the embellishments can be kept from year to year.

Birch branches are usually preferred to spray paint because they are finer than the dogwoods.

Boxwood with Pomegranate (I may put in a little moss to soften the look)

Seeded cedar awaiting something unusual, I'm working on it!

I think this one may be completed

Before I left, I noticed the grass in the nursery yard swaying in the strong winds, looked just like a prairie!


Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, Your course at the nursery has very obviously paid dividends, but I always think of you as a very creative and talented person in your own right. Your preparations for the holidays are so exciting and, I am sure, you will have enormous fun.

Anonymous said...

Eileen: An absolutely fabulous lesson to all!! I loved this post.
GREAT JOB!!! I am going to go to the nursery this weekend.

Shirley said...

Eileen, thank you for the lesson on winter arrangements. I would love to see all your finished projects. I've done a few in my time but you've provided some great new ideas!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Edith,

I did learn some new things at the workshop like not spraying the berries with the Wilt Pruf. I think I sprayed them last year and they did turn black too soon.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Shirley,

I learned some new things this time and the selection of greens and other decor has certainly improved in the last few years.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks for your kudos anonymous.


Balisha said...

I always leave plenty of time to read your posts.I love the natural look that greens of all kinds give to Christmas arrangements. I can't wait to see how you decorate your home...Balisha

Karen said...

Hi Eileen, Now you have me in the mood to get my containers decorated with something more than my dried hydrangea blooms. What gorgeous supplies the nursery has for people to buy...I will probably go out and see what I can hack off my woods here; it won't be as lovely as yours, though. Thank you for the inspiration!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, you probably have enough greens on your property to supply most of the nurseries in your area. I am sure whatever you do will look great.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Balisha,

I am starting early because I know the freezing weather is coming.


Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

The class must have been fun. All those great raw materials- I have always loved magnolia leaves and the berries are wonderful. I have just started to rough in my containers with evergreens and am looking forward to completing them hopefully this weekend.

LC said...

Lots of beautiful things... I'm not sure that I'll do much decorating this year... I've always done lots in past years, but this shoulder problem pretty much curtails that. I know what you mean about the magnolia... wouldn't it be wonderful to have space to grow trees the way they should be grown!? Actually I just order 30 miniature and dwarf conifers with just that in mind... at least they shouldn't outgrow their allotment! Now... to find time to make all that hyper-tuffa! Larry

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Jennifer, the class was fun and I learn something new at each class I attend. There are so many things to choose from now compared to a few years ago.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Larry, save your arm for the real stuff next spring. Several years ago not many people even put greens outside, now it is a huge industry for the garden centers.


Bonnie said...

Thanks for sharing. I've been trying to get myself motivated - my wreath business starts up this weekend. I'll be out on our tree farm cutting trees and boughs all weekend and then creating wreaths and arrangements. I wish I could work with noble fir, but it doesn't do well here in the east.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Eileen girl that was BEAUTIFUL !!
I am hoping to find my greens, with bits and pieces tomorrow .. you really put me in a festive mood with seeing these arrangements .. they are so gorgeous ! .. i wish I could keep the greens smelling really fragrant so it would waft into the house from the front door .. now that would make it heavenly!
Fantastic post .. I am almost singing Christmas carols ?? LOL
Joy : )

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Bonnie, I agree, Noble Fir is a stiffer evergreen and that is why it makes a good base in urns or boxes. I have seen it in wreaths but it looks very stiff. The Fraser Fir, balsam, cedars make much nicer wreaths. Good luck with all of your work ahead making wreaths.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Joy, I really miss that smell in the house, but we had to move everything outside years ago for safety and allergies. The pine candles are great but they just don't do it like the real thing.


joey said...

A wealth of creative ideas, Eileen. Thank you for sharing. That huge planter is stunning! Now, when I get home (love to cut from the garden), I too must ...

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Joey, I don't think I ever decorated outside years ago. I wish I had something to cut from my garden, guess I didn't appreciate it when I lived in my old old house with the woods in back.


Ron said...

What a wonderful article with many stunning pictures. I am getting into the Holiday spirit now. thanks Eileen.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I wish I was in Florida right now Ron.


Kate (daisygil_io) said...

Wow - these containers are gorgeous! So you can put the stems directly into the soil and let them freeze? I guess that's where the Wilt Pruf helps. I'm definitely going to try to make on of these this year. Thanks!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Kate, cut the greens and put right into the soil, water well and you can spray with the Wilt Pruf.

You can also use oasis and a plastic container to sink into the soil.


Zoey said...

Hi Eileen,
Your arrangements are so professional-looking!

I can't wait to see the finished Seeded cedar container. It looks pretty nice with nothing in it,so I am sure it will be fabulous when you put your decorating skills to work on it.

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