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.
Seed Pods (These hold up from year to year)
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).
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.
A smaller arrangement that most of us can relate to
Grapevine spheres, some painted and some natural
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!