For those of us in northern Illinois, decorating and gardening outdoors in the unpredictable and harsh winter months is a real challenge.
I’m always tempted to use lots of exotic greens, in and out of doors, for something different. But this inevitably disappoints me when a severe cold snap freezer-burns them all before the holiday season ends. Using real delarobia with holly, pineapples, oranges and apples is just not an option unless they remain inside the house and go up JUST before the party!
To prevent your own heartbreak, I recommend three simple tips for outdoor winter décor. They will take you though the doldrums of January and February with very little maintenance and a bit of cheer:
1: Stick with what’s hardy in your climate
Look to the firs and spruces that are readily available; they are dependable friends that will not turn brown when dry. Supplement them with berried junipers or cedars. Your own garden is likely to be a rich source of twigs, berries, and trimmings that you can use to make a unique arrangement. If you need more and are located in northern Illinois, look Wisconsin or Michigan for bulk greens. These areas supply nearly all of the greens for the thousands of containers we do each year. Try using red or green dogwood stems to add height and color.
2. Consider greens and accents from the Pacific Northwest
Seek out the riches from the Pacific Northwest at a floral wholesaler for mossy fruit branches and seeded Eucalyptus branches that survive our brutal weather without complaint.
3. Try rooted shrubs in containers
I plant select containers, when possible, with hardy evergreen shrubs that can withstand big temperature changes. If watered every week or so, rooted plants in containers will thrive into spring. This strategy lets me switch my displays from winter to spring on my own schedule, not because the display has suddenly died or looks tired!
Look for the Canadian Sheridan Nursery varieties of boxwood. They typically start with the word ‘green’ before a shape, like ‘Green Mountain’ and you can find them at your local nursery. They survive all but the worst winters if placed away from the brutal, desiccating winds we can get at any time in the winter.