Make a Holiday Garden Container

by Holly Boettcher

Gardening season is behind me, but I do my best to find ways to continue working with plants. I gather up some unique containers, then go on a scavenger hunt for items such as greenery, dried flowers, birch branches, red twigged dogwood branches, Autumn Joy Sedum, corkscrew willow branches, or whatever else I can locate that will add some interest to my container. Have you ever considered designing your own Christmas container for the holidays but not sure where to begin? Let’s design one together with these easy steps.

Find a Nice Container:  For my container this year, I am using an antique set of wash tubs.  I like to use unusual containers such as an old wooden box, crates, barrels, or even an old purse. If your container will be placed by your entrance, you want it to be a large container. Or consider making two or three! And for a compact look on a porch table or piece of patio furniture, something smaller will do the trick. Don’t forget you can give an old container new life by painting or wrapping it with shiny paper.

Locate some greens:   It is winter so think green. An evergreen shrub such as an arborvitae, a small white pine, or blue spruce are good picks! You can plant a live tree or shrub into the ground in spring after the frost goes out. Garden centers offer interesting bundles of greens. I often stop at a place that is selling Christmas trees because they will have trimmings available for sale. When selecting your greens, consider different textures, shapes, and needle lengths too. Whatever you do, do not cut the top off a blue spruce tree because it will deform the tree.   

Pick your garnishes:   

To make your container exciting, add birch branches or red twigged dogwood branches, corkscrew willow, or hydrangea branches. Find something to fill in the space such as glittered spikes, silk flowers like poinsettias, ornaments, ribbon, pinecones, and bows to add color. Your container should be full yet not overcrowded.

Let’s get started:

Use potting soil (that is not frozen) in your container. I prefer using some that is left over from my summer plantings. By having a base of soil, it will be easier to assemble your greens and twigs. The soil will hold them in place and add some weight so your container does not tip over in the wind.

Begin to add your garnishes:  Select a focal point which is something the eye is immediately drawn to, then build around it.  

Start by arranging the tallest items, then begin filling around them using color, shape, texture, and contrast, while keeping in mind which side will be most visible.  

Water: Yes, it is winter, and your container will freeze, but you want to lock everything into place so nothing blows away. And by watering your greens they will stay healthy looking until early spring!  

Happy Holidays!