Tag Archive: Evergreens

  1. Holiday Decorating with Evergreens

    Evergreens of all kinds are a sign of the season, whether used to decorate our landscapes, containers, holiday vases, or festive winter scenes. Needled branches and pine cones also fill the air with resinous fragrance associated with snowy days and glad tidings. Here are several jolly ways to use evergreens and evergreen branches to decorate your home this holiday season, indoors or out.

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  2. DIY Outdoor Holiday Containers

    When flower-filled summer containers die back at the end of the season, don’t put those empty pots away. Convert your vacant outdoor planters into beautiful showpieces for the holidays. Take pruned evergreen and berried branches, dry grass plumes, and dry hydrangea flowers to make festive DIY outdoor holiday containers that will remain attractive well into winter.

    Gathering Holiday Container Materials

    Winter branches and dried flowers can be purchased, but it’s more cost effective if you have these materials in your own landscape or garden. Pine, fir, or spruce branches are perfect for that touch of greenery. Holly and winter berry branches will add color and substance as will red twig dogwood or curly willow branches. If you have ornamental grasses with dried seed heads or hydrangeas with dried flower heads, these add substance to outdoor winter containers, especially if given a little glitz with metallic spray paint. Finally, pine cones, magnolia seed heads or sweet gum balls make an excellent addition, so use them if you have them.

    Directions

    Materials needed for holiday containers

    Creating these containers is no different than putting together a large winter bouquet, but instead of a vase, you use a planter with potting mix. Long branches make bolder showpieces with bigger impact, so start with branches that are at least 2-3 feet in length, and trim them as needed.

    Your container composition will depend on the materials you have on hand, but this is the formula I use for one large container.

    • A large planter filled with potting mix
    • 6-8 large evergreen branches
    • One large berried holly or winter berry branch
    • 10 dried hydrangea and grass plumes
    • 5 red twig dogwood branches (curly willow or other spray painted bare branches would work)
    • Pine cones
    • Gold or silver spray paint for the hydrangea plumes
    • Pruners

    Make sure your pot is filled with potting mix to support the branches. Place the pot in its final location before arranging; this will allow you to consider appearance and size as you craft the piece. If your container will be placed against a wall, set the showiest branches along the front.

    Start by adding the greenery—placing the tallest branches towards the middle. Trim additional branches to place along the periphery. Next, add the colorful ornamental branches concentrically around the container. Set the berried branch in the center, and follow up by placing the dried hydrangea flowers along the edges. Add the grass plumes around the composition, and center one tall plume behind the berries. Nestle pine cones along the base and in the greenery or bare branches.

    1. Start by adding the greenery

    2. Add the ornamental branches

    3. Add your berried branch in the center

    4. Add your holly branches

    5. Add the hydrangea around the base

    6. Place the grass plumes along the center and sides

    6. Nestle in the the pine cones, and you are done!

    Create Your Own Container Design

    These containers should reflect your personal style and home, so get creative and design your own. There are lots of things you can do to make them bigger, bolder, or more glittery. Adding stark but colorful branches in the center of your container and surrounding them with greenery and pine cones creates a bold, attractive look. For added glitz, spiral some lights around each arrangement, embellish with a few glittery outdoor ornaments, or add a bright, colorful bow. It’s up to you!

    These impressive home containers are decorated with evergreens, southern magnolia leaves, broomseed plumes, curly willow, and red twig dogwood. (Image from Newfields, Indianapolis, IN)

  3. Variegated Evergreens for Winter Landscaping

    Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ has spectacular winter color! (photo by Jessie Keith)

    Daylight starts its annual return with the Winter Solstice, but cold gray days continue well into the New Year. Gardens, shorn of flowers and deciduous leaves, are stark. In winter, evergreens make all the difference. And variegated varieties, their leaves edged, striped or splashed in contrasting tones, add zest and color to the landscape. With choice specimens available in many sizes and shapes, the only constant is variety.

    2014-08-29_13_46_38_Variegated_English_Holly_at_the_Pinelands_Preservation_Alliance_headquarters_in_Southampton_Township,_New_Jersey

    English holly ‘Argenteomarginata’ has bright white edges. (photo by FaMartin)

    Variegated Holly

    English holly (Ilex aquifolia), brightens landscapes and winter arrangements with glossy green leaves and vibrant red berries on female plants. Variegated varieties include ‘Argenteomarginata’, with white leaf edges and ‘Aureomarginata’, featuring yellow borders. Both can be grown as large shrubs or small trees, reaching up to 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide, with a pyramidal habit. Variegated English holly thrives in full sun to light shade. Nearby male varieties provide necessary pollination for female plants.

    ‘Golden King’ is one such male. An English holly hybrid (Ilex x altaclerensis), it features slightly more rounded leaves than its parent and golden variegation on the leaf edges. Developed at England’s Highclere Castle, home to TV’s “Downton Abbey”, it grows up to 24 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

    Variegated Winter Daphne

    Winter or fragrant daphne (Daphne odora) is aptly named. The fragrant flowers appear very early—in late winter or early spring. With leathery leaves and a mounding habit, shade-tolerant winter daphne makes a good hedging or specimen plant, especially in alkaline soil. Tempting variegated varieties include: ‘Aureomarginata’,with yellow leaf margins, ‘Rubra Variegata’, featuring rosy pink flowers and white-edged foliage and ‘Variegata’, with soft pink blooms and bright yellow leaf margins.

    Variegated False Holly

    It’s easy to mistake false holly or holly olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus), for the real thing. The dense, spiny leaves resemble those of English holly, though false holly does not produce its namesake’s bright red fruits. Osmanthus is a densely-leafed, upright shrub that grows into an oval shape and usually tops out at 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. It can also be clipped into standard form. Variegated false hollies abound, including ‘Aureomarginata’, with yellow leaf edges; the eye-catching ‘Goshiki’, bearing foliage marked with flecks of gold, cream and green; ‘Kembu’, featuring white leaf margins and flecks and ‘Variegatus’, with white-edged leaves.

    Variegated

    Variegated wintercreeper is one of the easiest evergreens to grow.

    Variegated Euonymus

    The large euonymus genus contains many variegated evergreens. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) is one of them. Some of the best known varieties are low-growers, less than 12 inches tall, with small, dark green or blue-green leaves. With its spreading habit and adaptability to varying light situations, wintercreeper works as a groundcover, rock garden subject, or erosion controller. Among the many variegated varieties are: ‘Emerald ‘n Gold’, with yellow leaf margins on leaves that turn pinkish in winter; the taller ‘Gold Splash’, which grows to 3 feet tall and wide; ‘Moonshadow’, with green-edged yellow leaves; ‘Silver Queen’, featuring yellow margins that age to white and ‘Sunshine,’ bearing gray-green centers and gold edges. Use wintercreeper carefully. It has been reported as invasive in some areas. One way to keep it in check is to grow it in large pots and trim as necessary. Give containerized wintercreeper a good start by using a quality potting mixture like Fafard Natural and Organic Potting Mix.

    Japanese Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) is a shrubby plant, topping out at 10 to 15 feet tall and half as wide. Like most euonymus, the species bears shiny green, ovoid leaves that are opposed on the stems. Variegated varieties of this rather formal hedging plant include ‘Albomarginatus’ and ‘Aureomarginatus’, bearing white and gold leaf edges respectively. ‘Latifolius Albomarginatus’ also features white margins, but has broader leaves than ‘Albomarginatus’ and gray-green leaf centers.

    Variegated Spotted Laurel

    Shade-loving spotted laurel (Aucuba japonica) is easy to spot. The hardy plants, often used for hedging, grow up to 10 feet tall, with a nearly equal spread. Spotted laurel leaves are somewhat leathery and up to 8 inches long. Purple spring flowers are an added bonus, giving way to red fall fruits on female plants. ‘Mr. Goldstrike’, a male plant that can serve as a pollinator for female spotted laurels, is dramatic and generously dappled with golden speckles. ‘Variegata’ is a gold-flecked female variety, originally introduced in 1783 and known as the “gold dust plant.” Another notable spotted laurel is ‘Goldieana’, featuring a solid splotch of gold on each long, green leaf.
    Evergreens provide the horticultural music in quiet winter gardens. Variegation makes that music swing.