More On Winter

holiday container arrangements

This past week was devoted to getting a lot of clients ready for the holidays and the winter to come.  Every client’s take on the season is different.  How I love that.  Every project we do involves different materials, different emphasis, different style, different execution.

There are those landscapes that are very spare-they ask for seasonal company in the same vein.  There are those who love sparkles, and those who want anything but. 

The architecture makes its own demand.  Ignore that, and your winter container arrangements will look jarringly out of place.  These containers look in keeping with an idea that was established by the architecture.

There are those who delight in the light.  I will confess I am one of them.  The daytime look here-sumptuous.  The night time look-electric.

This client has small children.  The mudroom door-this is their front door.  A dog, and a few pots dressed for the season-appropriate to the occasion.

We had occasion to obtain a number of French made baskets with leather handles.  Not that you could spot those handles here, but they finish this basket in a very beautiful way.  I am sure the original intent never involved a winter container arrangement. 

How beautiful and comfortable they look at this front door.  Though the arrangement is simple and subdued, the overall shapes are generous and clear.

This 19th century white painted wirework planter is a garden ornament/container that organizes this entire garden.  For the winter, an arrangement that is just as serious as the planter.  I am particularly pleased about how this looks-and will look-all winter. 

These mossed topiary sculptures in French pots add a graceful note to this massive stone fireplace.  They will be a welcome and personal note-all winter long.

The shape and size of a container, and the location of those containers, provides plenty of clues about how to shape and size an arrangement.  

This client has beautiful terra cotta pots that sit on this porch during the summer months.  In the winter, we fill fiber pots with twigs and greens.  Very simple and uncomplicated, yes.  What would be complicated would be the idea of living with this massive porch all winter long-bare.

Michigan winter weather adds its own touch to every winter container arrangement.  This is why we construct them to withstand whatever nature has to dish out.  We might get a dusting of snow.  We might be buried in it. 

Eucalyptus is a plant whose stems and leaves are amenable to absorbing color, and preservative.  I would not want to do without this material over my winter.  A winter container stuffed full of eucalyptus-not too dressy or dramatic.  Just warm.

Another material not native to my zone-southern magnolia.  I buy the branches by the caseload.  The glossy leaves hold up over my winter beautifully.  The leaves dry the most gorgeous shade of pale platinum green you could imagine.  The cinnamon brown felted backs of the leaves-this color is persistent.  Winter long.  The color and shape of the willow-a great companion.

The relationship of the color of dried limelight hydrangea flowers to the willow and magnolia-pleasing. 

Whitewashed eucalyptus is a material of choice for those clients that swear by white.  Interested in pairing materials?  Noble fir has that blue white cast that makes it a natural companion for whitewashed eucalyptus.  

That very same eucalyptus is a gorgeous companion for the containers we make at Branch.  Steely blue.

Any container that sits empty over the winter bothers me.  I like the idea that no matter the season, the spirit of the garden goes on.  I know my trees, shrubs and perennials are sleeping.  Fine.  It is about to be winter.  But if I have anything to say about it, I fill the pots.  To overflowing.  Welcome, winter.


  1. Ahhhh! You are the master of beautiful container designs. Your work inspires me to be a better gardener and artist. Thank you for sharing your craft. Your blog is such a pleasure to read. I go back to the photographs again and again for inspiration. Happy Winter indeed!

  2. Yes…let us welcome winter…I am ready. But where is the snow? These 38-42 degree days with rainy, heavy, low, gray skies make me sad. A foot of snow in Minnesota last night where my family lives. I am jealous. If we are going to have winter, let’s have winter. Just needed to get that off my chest. Looking at your beautiful pots makes me feel a little better…and that, I am sure, is at least part of the idea. They lift the spirits, those pots do. Thanks.

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