Page 20 - The Hunt Magazine - Winter 2019
P. 20

Story and photographs by Betty Mackey
Winter is a fourth season of interest.
n spring, it’s fun to pick big bouquets of blooming shrubs and flowering bulbs. but winter also
has such opportunities. You can go with the same
large outdoor containers you used for decorative plantings during the warm months. Fill them with warm, woodsy arrangements of branches and berries. they make a joyful winter addition to the scene— just when we need it the most.
I have a few tips for you if you plan to go this route. First, you want your containers to be durable and frost-proof, as they’ll be outdoors in the worst of winter weather. Wood, fi berglass, cement, metal and plastic are good materials for this purpose. Drainage holes are also good. Using clay pots outdoors is asking for trouble, because freezing and thawing can cause them to crack and be ruined. Some ceramics are more resistant to this than others, but why take a chance?
The size of the container is important. For most locations— like near the front door or on a porch—pots two- to three-feet wide and tall look good. They can be seen from a distance and will hold sizeable branches. Larger branches usually last longer than smaller ones. Of course, there’s a design factor at play and a big home calls for larger sizes and/or more pots.
The next thing is filling the containers. There’s no need to remove the potting soil from the containers when you discard the old annuals—it helps to hold up the branches. If the soil inside the container is already frozen, you might move it indoors to the basement or garage to thaw, while you gather and condition the natural branches for the arrangement. That way you don’t need to drill into the frozen soil. Use more potting soil to add to what’s in the pots, as needed, filling to two inches from the top. For new pots, you can use Styrofoam blocks and rocks in the lower half
of the pots to save on potting soil. Moisten the potting soil as needed. You may want to add a grid of wire or tape to the top of the pots to help stabilize the arrangements.
You can make great things from what grows in your garden or can be bought or found. After evergreen plants (including hollies) go dormant, prune them as needed and make use of the branches you cut off. Non-evergreen leafless branches are also good, but branches with leaves don’t last.
You’ll need a surprisingly large amount of material. Six feet of branch length is not excessive in a large pot, because part of it will be concealed by the pot. If you don’t have enough greenery to make

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