Thursday, December 10, 2015

DIY Outdoor Winter Containers

I am no floral designer.  When it comes to arranging vases and containers and the like, I know very little.  However, I am a member of a garden club that has quite a few floral designers, and I have enjoyed learning at least some basic 'tools of the trade' from them - just enough, anyway, to be able to turn my two whiskey barrel planters into proper-looking holiday winter containers this year. (woohoo!)

my holiday winter whiskey barrel container
The containers were fairly easy and quick to assemble.  Most of my time was spent in tramping through our woods surreptitiously cutting branches from trees where Mr. Red House wouldn't notice.  (He has a thing about trees.)  I ended up used four different types of evergreens, some spray-painted branches, ball ornaments, ribbon, floral foam, floral picks, and a couple wire hangers to make them.


Anyone who has done any floral designs or who is more crafty than me might know about floral foam, but for me, a newbie, it was a revelation.  Ah, this is the magic behind it all!  I used wet floral foam, often sold under the brand Oasis, as I want my greens to last as long as possible.  I just stuck two brick of wet foam on top of each container, securing them to the soil by sticking a piece cut from a wire hanger down into the middle of it.


Some notes about floral foam for fellow newbies: there is wet floral foam and dry floral foam, and you could probably use either here.  You can find them at pretty much any arts and crafts store.  To use the wet kind, fill up your sink with water and just set the foam blocks on top of the water.  They will slowly absorb the water and sink to the bottom.  (It is good to do it this way as opposed to just dunking them into the water to avoid getting air bubbles in it.)  After it is wet, it is easy to cut if you need to cut it down to your container size.

The one drawback with the wet floral foam is that it is not good to keep putting stuff in it and then taking it back out, as it will start to crumble.  So you want to have a good idea about what you are going to put in it and where before you start.  Dry floral foam can be more forgiving.


I first stuck white pine branches in a ring around my whisky barrels, as it was what I had the most of and it spilled nicely over the edges.


After a bottom layer of white pine, I started to layer my other greens (fir, Hinoki cypress, and boxwood), sticking them into the sides of the floral foam.


Then I placed my tall "thriller" pieces: branches cut from shrubs out in my woods that I spray-painted white.  (Thank you, Karen, of Quarry Garden Stained Glass blog, who was my inspiration.  She is the spray-painting queen of containers!)


I picked white because that was the spray paint I happened to have, but I think red or even silver or gold would have looked quite nice in these containers.  After that I stuck many of the small pieces of evergreens into the top of the foam to fill it up and hide the foam.  Then came the decorations to give it some color!


The second trick I learned this year was to use wooden floral picks.  Also found at any arts and crafts store, they come in a variety of sizes, and it makes it a cinch to attach ornaments, pinecones, lengths of ribbon, or whatever else you need to the arrangement.  Just attach the decoration onto the wire end and then stick the wooden pick into the floral foam.


And viola!


I hope this helps any floral arranging newbies like myself!  Happy gardening...


...or in this case, happy decorating!

27 comments:

  1. Very nice! It looks like the fancy holiday pots they show on Houzz. I just dragged out the fake wreath for the door again this year.... I admire your holiday spirit -- thanks for sharing how it's done for those of us who know even less. :-) Happy holidays to your family from ours! -Beth

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    1. Wow, thanks! For my door I took out a fake wreath - one project is enough for me this year :) Happy holidays to your family as well, Beth!

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  2. They look great, Indie! I added some winter elements to my planters this year, too, but they don't look as amazing as yours. Lovely!

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    1. Aw, thanks! This definitely turned out better than just leaving all the existing dying petunias in the pot for the winter :)

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  3. Wow, Indie! I love your arrangements! (And shucks, thanks for the praise, blushing here.) I've never tried floral foam, that's a great idea. And those picks are neat, too. Do you get a lot of snow in your area? We were in the 50's today (unbelievable) and it's raining tonight. Your arrangements will be pretty in the snow, too.

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    1. It's been amazingly warm here too. I'm not complaining after last year where we got record amounts of snow! You definitely inspired me with all your beautiful containers. I always love Frank the Urn!

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  4. Those look great and I like the white branches, they really stand out. The greens should last quite a while too.

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    1. Thanks! Next year I might try red, as I love some pop of color (and, of course, we all know I like red!)

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  5. I love the look of evergreens! What a great DIY project for those who are lamenting the absence of colorful flowers this time of year :-)

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    1. With it usually being cold and/or snowy for so long here, it is nice to have some sort of evergreen outdoor decorations. It will likely be covered in snow by next month, but will hopefully look good for awhile at least!

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  6. Indie!
    I'm delighted with your Christmas decoration.
    It is very beautiful. Can I use your idea?
    Sticks are great.
    Have a nice weekend.
    Greetings from Poland.
    Lucia

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    1. Sure! I was hoping the post could help out some other people who don't usually do floral design stuff. Have fun decorating!

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  7. Beautiful! I'm no floral designer, either, and I just bought a bundle of red-twig dogwood stems for an outside container. Painting branches--why have I never thought of that?! Thanks, Indie!

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    1. I know - that's what I said when I saw Karen's post on all her painting for outdoor containers! So simple and smart! I think next year I'm going to paint some branches or something red or even glittery gold.

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  8. Brilliant! Glad you were able to sneak a few trimmings out of the woods for this. It came out great and really makes a nice holiday display.
    I tried something similar this year but really thought I was a genius for spraying my own branches.... apparently it's just another case of me being too impressed with myself lol

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    1. I thought the idea was genius, which is why I stole it! :) Spray paint is a great thing - there is no way I'd get away with cutting branches from our birch trees, which are much beloved by Mr. Red House!

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  9. I'm very impressed with your project, Indie! I have 5 window boxes that need decorating, but I've always left them empty as I'm clueless. I don't think I'll have time this year as I'm going away, but I'll print out your post for next time. P. x

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    1. Glad it was helpful! The foam really makes these things so much easier. Safe travels!

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  10. Veddy interesting. I didn't know about the picks. I think you did a good job with your design. I just kinda wonder why the thriller piece couldn't have some small ornaments or would that be too much. I've got "gild the lily" DNA...

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    1. Ah, I like how you think! Little ornaments on it would probably be quite adorable!

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  11. Great step-by-step instructions! I am no floral designer either, and I did not know about wire picks! thank you! your arrangement is inspiring!

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    1. Aw, thank you! It's been so helpful learning these things, and I am happy to be able to pass it on!

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  12. Wow, I am impressed. That is flower arranging on a grand scale.

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  13. Perfect decorations and directions for this newbie....thanks!

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