Fresh decorating ideas

Decorating with fresh evergreens

...that will last through the winter holidays.

Nature always offers us an elegant way to add color and cheer to our winter landscapes-- especially for the holidays. Fresh-cut, evergreen trees are the perfect addition to any container since they are available in all sizes and shapes from 3-footers on up to 14 feet for the largest trees. Also, as long as these cut trees remain outside in the cold, there is no need to water the containers.


Start with a Great Container. What's your style? Casual, rustic, modern? Each can look equally as festive when you combine interesting containers with fresh-cut, Fraser fir trees, holiday greens or berried branches. Whether you prefer metal, floral buckets, flower market pails, milk cans, red-painted terra cotta pots, Victorian cast-stone urns or wooden barrels, you can enjoy holiday decorating with confidence.

Christmas Tree in a Pot: Move outside the standard tree stand by choosing a unique container. Choose one that is appropriate for your space and the size of the tree. A Fraser fir is ideal because there is no needle drop and the soft needles make it easy to handle. Place the tree in the container and secure it by adding sand or pack in topsoil around the trunk and lower branches.

Take Two: Add drama to your pair of holiday containers by using a single color and material. Try filling the containers with only branches of red winterberries or go faux with picks of fabric poinsettias, berried holly or re-usable winterberry stems. Go natural with many sizes of pine cones, huge sugar cones, lotus pods, magnolia leaves, curly willow or red dogwood branches  or white birch logs. Or, when using cut evergreens, Douglas, Fraser and Noble fir boughs last the longest. TIP: Some container designers recommend using a block of floral foam to secure the branches, picks etc. Wedge the floral foam tightly into the container on top of a layer of topsoil. Let floral foam stick up a few inches above the edge of the container. This makes it easier to stick branches into the sides at a more natural angle.


It's a Wrap with Burlap. Here's an easy way to create a miniature, evergreen forest. It's easy to disguise summer pots or pails by wrapping them in sheets of burlap. Simply gather the fabric together at the top of the pot or at the trunk of the tree with heavy twine or a wide, red ribbon. Place three differing sizes of trees in their 'burlap' pots on a front porch, at a main entrance, back deck or anywhere in your yard that you would like to make a woodsy atmosphere. To make them show up at night, trim the trees with tiny white lights. As darkness arrives earlier in winter, you can look forward to enjoying a little extra light. If you desire more color, tuck 'picks' of faux red flowers such a amaryllis or poinsettias in between the branches of the trees. Or, add faux berries in red, gold or white throughout the tree.


Seeing Red. This is your chance to make old pots look new again. Look for a matte or glossy, red spray paint.
Spray an old container with fresh paint with a few light coats rather than one heavy layer. After drying, the pot is ready for a single green Christmas tree or fresh-cut greens and berry branches.


Feeling Nostalgic? After searching through your basement or grandmother's attic, you might be lucky enough to find an old Radio Flyer wagon or a rustic, wooden wheelbarrow. Vintage items such as sleds or chalkboards can be interesting as backdrops for fresh, evergreen trees, too.


A Designer's Secret Weapon. Make it easy to add color and texture to a base of evergreen branches with the creative use of 'picks'--those long-stemmed accents attached to a sturdy stick. Choose from artificial berries, flowers, greens, gold and silver baubles and other unique accents in holiday colors and metallics. Bunches of twigs such as red and yellow twig dogwood, curly and goat willow, or birch branches add height and will last all winter. 

Take it to the Heights: Try a tuteur. Tuteur is the French word for 'trainer.' These pyramid-shaped objects can be constructed from wood, branches or metal and were originally used for plants that needed a vertical support. They also can be used in a container or as a stand-alone garden sculpture. Tuteurs make interesting decorations for the winter holidays with their 'Christmas tree' shape. They look very festive simply strung with lights or placing branches inside and around the base--depending on the size of the tuteur. Or add height by placing a tuteur in the middle of a larger container of cut evergreens.  

If you take the time to gather a few simple elements, you'll have fun putting together a holiday season that is inspired by nature.