Shimmering

sinamay.jpgIt doesn’t take much to add a little holiday shimmer to a winter container arrangement. Anything that sparkles is very festive.  Sinamay is polyester fabric that can be found shot through with metallic threads.  It holds its naturally curvy shape no mater the weather.  Not great with swags and bows?  This material does the work for you.  I fold it over, and run a wire through the bottom near the crease edge.  Once I pull the wire as tight as it will go around the centerpiece, I get plenty of curls and curves.  That shimmer is great during the day, and especially effective at night in pots that have lighting.  A little glitz and glam has its time and place.  It takes but a second to remove it after New Years.  Should you decide to leave it on all winter, the metallic threads will dull down after exposure to winter weather.

silver-eucalyptus.jpgNew for me this year is eucalyptus with a metallic finish.  The centerpiece in this pot is 2 parts whitewash, and 1 part silver metallic. This is just enough shimmer to brighten the daytime look.  I am sure the look is quite sparkly at night, given the lights in the topiary form.

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The arrangements have a subtle glow, given the late day sun, and read well from a distance. The pots are placed at the end of a driveway, where they frame the natural landscape behind.

winter-container.jpgThe side door pot has the same combination, with the addition of some white flocked picks.  The dry natural stems have just a hint of silver flake on them.  The overal effect-shimmery.

winter-pots.jpgThese pots have plum eucalyptus mixed with copper.  The effect is subtle enough that I wouldn’t be afraid to leave them in the arrangement all winter.  Michigan winters are particularly dreary.  Anything that reflects what little light we have is a visual treat.  The snow and the cold are ok, but the gloom is just about intolerable.

copper-eucalyptus.jpgRed bud pussy willow has a naturally copper cast.  The copper metallic leaves by themselves are a little overwhelming, but in a mix, they shine

pair-of-holiday-pots.jpgThese winter pots have pale green glittery picks in between the pussy willow and the white berry picks.  They are the perfect note for a holiday party.

sparkle-picks.jpgThat glittery layer speaks to the holidays coming up.  Once the holidays pass, those picks can be removed.  The more somber winter arrangement will look great through March.  Spraying wiltpruf on fresh cut greens does improve their longevity.  Wiltpruf is a water and was emulsion which slows the rate of evaporation from the needles.  Cut evergreens that dry out look bad.  The most effective professional grade antidessicant is called VaporGard.  Growers at my local market spray their ornamental cabbages and kales with it after transplanting them out of the field.  It does indeed prevent wilting.

holiday-decorating.jpgThese light strings on metal poles Rob calls lightsicles.  Certain of the mini lights have plastic light covers over them in a random pattern.  They look great hung from the eaves of a house, or from a tree.  For the holidays, we loosely wrapped a sinamay ribbon around the poles, and pushed the glass lights through the mesh.  The ribbon reflects natural light in a very subtle way.  Light strings are very hard to use in a design, as the daytime look is so much about the wires.  Using lights with brown cords, or garland lights that have the bulbs placed close together can help.

lighted-bars-and-sinamay-ribbon.jpgThis little bit of sinamay ribbon allows the light to shine through at night, and covers the steel pole and wires during the day. The chartreuse ornaments are plastic-a perfect material for outdoors.

lighted-bars.jpgIt’s time for the sparkles.

 

The Details: A Story Board

glass-drops.jpgPart 3 of my tutorial about the construction of  winter containers has to do with bringing the special details to life.  Evergreens stuck into a foam form the base of the winter container.  A structure upon which to build.  A centerpiece, no matter whether it is tied up tight and of a piece, or stuck individually, provides an element upon which to focus.  Up next-the details.

evergreens-destined-for-a-winter-pot.jpgA blank canvas can be lush in and of itself, but it asks for those details that make for an individual design.  The third element of any winter pot-those thoughtfully constructed and expressed finishing details.  Pistou is a vegetable soup of French origin, , made with vegetables, various beans, and small macaroni.  This is an overview- their are many individual recipes.  Upon serving, the soup is topped with a large dollop of basil pesto which is showered with grated parmesan cheese.  The addition of the pesto and its parmesan  is an individually imagined finish.  Pistou has no end of recipes, should you look it up on line.  Individual chefs individually imagine and cook the soup, and finish it to their taste.  The finish of your winter containers should reflect your own particular point of view.

light-rings.jpgA winter container has several elements, each of which are interpreted by the gardener in charge.  The finish is about the fine tuning.  The little bits that take construction to another level.  Those little bits can be imagined, and sorted out in the shelter provided by the garage.  These winter pots included light rings on stands of Rob’s invention, stout cut twigs, garland lights, big C-9 light strands, and glass drops.

lighted-topiary-form.jpgSummer topiary forms which provides a climbing venue for mandevillea vines in the summer are strung with garland light vines for the winter.

holiday-garland.jpgA thick evergreen garland is wrapped with grapevine.  Loose and loopy.  The materials are as subtle as they are simple.

winter-container.jpgThis container features one of Rob’s light rings constructed on a stand.  The branches we cut from a tree at our Branch property.  The glass drops will pick up the light from a string of 50 clear C-9 lights.  Part of the story board of these winter container involve light.  No, you cannot see the wires or the bulbs.  The big idea detailed on this story board-the twigs, the glass, and the light.  A story board is a group of images representing an idea.  Any creative expression should tell a story-from start to finish.

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winter garland

winter-container-arrangement.jpgThe story?  Welcome to winter.

 

At A Glance: Evergreen Branches

concolor-fir.jpgconcolor fir, and coned spruce branches

coned-spruce-boughs.jpgconed spruce boughs

German-boxwood.jpgGerman boxwood in a 25 pound case

long-needled-pine.jpgLong needled pine

Magnolia-grandiflora.jpgmagnolia grandiflora

incense-cedar.jpgincense cedar

English-variegated-boxwood.jpgEnglish variegated boxwood

silver-fir-boughs.jpgSilver fir

small-leaved-magnolia wreath.jpgLittle leaved magnolia wreath

30-inch-tall-Brown-Bracken-magnolia-stems.jpg30″ tall Little leaved magnolia bunches

Port-Orford-cedar-branches.jpgPort Orford cedar

white-pine.jpgwhite pine, and coned spruce

Douglas-fir.jpgDouglas Fir

berried-juniper.jpgberried juniper

evergreen-boughs.jpgI would guess that I prune the evergreens in my yard back 6 inches in the spring.  A long and wild stem on a yew, I may prune back 16 inches. Do I prune in November?  Never.  But there are those farmers out there that grow evergreens with the idea to cut for the holiday season. Long trimmings grace no end of winter pots and garlands.   Our premium greens come 25 pounds to a case.  Each bough averages 18 inches in length.  We appreciate an emphasis on long and green for our  winter and holiday projects.  Greens of lesser quality are more about the woody trimmings, than the greens.

Florists greens are really short.  A centerpiece on a table needs much less in the way of length and volume than a winter container.  My advice- go for the long boughs.  I am appreciative of how many materials are available to me.  Any creative expression friendly to the garden begins and ends with what nature provides.   The evergreen boughs that will bring your holiday to life are brought to you by the farming community.  Do what you can to support them.

Stick Work

 

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Mid November is a good time to be planning what you might do to interpret the garden and landscape for the holiday and the winter.  Early is the best time to get going on a scheme.  The most compelling reason has to do with weather.  The past few years, our late fall was very mild.  Mild means it is reasonably easy to work outdoors.  A really cold late fall makes so much work of any installation outdoors.  For those gardeners that do their own work, dramatically cold fall temperatures is enough to make anyone consider skipping the winter work altogether. 

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My advice-don’t skip any experience of the garden.  Plant roses, peonies, trees, and wildflowers.  Plant bulbs in the ground, or in pots.  Grow topiaries and espaliers.  Plant clematis and tomatoes.  Take a liking to asters, and amass a collection.  Make enthusiasm for the garden and landscape a way of life.   Plan to express a winter idea-you will not be sorry.  On and off, we have had extremely cold temperatures in November.  The temperature today when I came to work was 20 degrees.  This is unseasonably cold, but by no means unheard of.  I remember those years when we had to chop frozen soil out of pots in order to install a winter arrangement.  Should night temperatures this low persist for much longer, our winter installations will be arduous.  Tough conditions in the landscape are my problem-not my client’s problem.

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If your winter garden is all your own to create, I would urge you to get dressed, and get out there.  The forecast for our coming weekend calls for 50 degrees both days.  All you need for a stellar winter arrangement in your pots are some great materials, a load of lights,  and an atmosphere in which you have time to concentrate.  Once I am in the process of stuffing a pot with sticks for the winter, I do not much notice the cold.  The fresh cut branches we bring in for the winter season shrug off the cold-why shouldn’t I?  I spent the entire day today outdoors, installing our first winter/holiday pots of the season.

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Stick week-we take possession of so many beautiful fresh cut twigs.  The stick work is what comes next.  Those sticks can be bound together.  They can provide the bulk and mass of a beautiful centerpiece. They can be stuck into the soil, one at a time.  They can provide the stalk of a great winter topiary for a sideboard in the dining room.  They can be woven around a form.  Our bunches of fresh cut twigs delight and challenge me, in the beginning of that season when the landscape is going dormant.  I find that the best antidote to loss is taking on the responsibility for a life that goes on.  A gorgeous winter garden helps to take the sting out of experiencing a garden going down for the winter.

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Nature provides a backdrop which is always interesting, and regularly spectacular.  Figure in the wind, the snow, the sunny days, the gray days, the cold, the ice, and that special quality which we call natural.  I have always posted entries to this online gardening journal of mine in real time.  This year, my idea is to pose the questions, post the pictures, and speak to the season, ahead of time.  In time for a reader to have time to consider all their options.  Rob loads in all manner of materials for the holiday and winter season.  I shop what he stocks at Detroit Garden Works for my projects.  Sticks, picks, greens, garlands, magnolia, grapevine, sinamay, weather proof ornament-his selections are beautiful.  Better than the beauty is the depth.  He takes great care to represent a wide range of interests.  Gardeners comprise a very big group with very diverse interests. Rob aims to engage each and every gardener.

First National holiday 2013 (53)

We do anticipate the season to come-we have to. Rob and I shop for the holiday to come the previous January.  We order materials in small numbers.  We hope that each gardener will draw from a large group of a limited stock of materials to create a holiday and winter that produces an original and personal result.  The order we place for sticks for your works happens in August.  The holiday display at Detroit Garden Works takes weeks to create.  We think ahead, so you do not have to.  But this year, the weather may close out early.  Our winter usually commences in January sometime.  I am thinking the winter will come early this year.  There is much stick work to do.  If you plan to harvest materials from your yard, or from the roadside, or the empty lot next door-now is the time.

holiday-containers.jpgThe curly copper willow that we installed in 12  pots downtown today is exuberant.  Lively. I do so like the warm color.  All of those curly stems are airy in a way only nature could create.  Our part was to put together an arrangement in which the twigs would celebrate winter season in a striking way.

container-detail.jpgOur expression of the winter season for this client is a relationship forged from cut twigs, fresh cut greens, dyed kiwi vine, sugar pine cones, gold sinamay, and fresh cut magnolia.  Any expression in the landscape revolves around a conversation.  If you are a gardener, you have a voice.  The season is another voice.  Nature is the first and foremost voice.  Multiple voices-harmonic.

holiday-container-arrangement.jpgAll the voices interacting-love this.

winter-containers.jpgYour winter season-love it up.