I’ve lately been looking at Pinterest “Winter containers”, and unsurprisingly, a lot of pins are containers designed by Deborah Silver, of Detroit Garden Works. She has a distinctive personal style–you can always identify her designs when you see a page of google images. Here are a few examples:
So I decided to have a go creating my own, using Deborah’s “template”.That includes zip ties, a centre bamboo stake, a mixture of greens, and subtlety.
One thing that’s not obvious at first glance is that all the above containers were full of heavy wet potting soil, which gives a nice solid medium for these top-heavy creations. They were previously filled with plants of some kind–probably annuals, since there’s nothing left of them. In my case since I don’t (or barely) plant annuals, I have containers with either dormant perennials, or shrubs with bare patches.
Since my camera or computer corrupted some of the pre-pictures, I can’t show you what these looked like before I started winterizing them. One held long-since faded pink chrysanthemums which I cut down. Another just a boxwood with a lot of empty space around it. And the third (least successful I’m afraid–I’ll continue to work on it…) a Dwarf Alberta Spruce in a too-small container.
Some of the options I considered for winterizing included:
The main foundation for my additives is conifer branches. I’d love to have had some cedar and some pine, but there weren’t any (free) windfalls. A mixture is good, but in my opinion, if you already have an evergreen shrub that you’re building around, two more different greens is ample, more begins to look a little busy.
Skimmia is easy to prune, since it makes lots of low-to-the-ground branches that I’d prefer to be limbed up a bit. So a clip here and a clip there gives a lovely selection not only of the briliiant red berries, but another non-conifer greenery.
Pyracantha is another berry-bearing shrub that can be actively pruned for both it’s greenery and its berries. Just be careful of the thorns.
I used two different Hydrangea blooms–one is ‘Invicibelle’, pink when it’s fresh, with tiny individual blossoms, much smaller than most hydrangeas. The other I used is “Limelight”, with panicle-shaped blooms.
Here are my final products.
I used the red-twig dogwood, bundled together with zip ties onto a bamboo stake, plunged down into the centre of the container. This is where you need to be careful if you’re modifying a container that otherwise has dormant perennials. I didn’t think there was much risk of damaging the mums…
Then came the conifer branches, mostly Douglas-fir. The light blue/silver is actually just the underside of the Doug-fir, providing colour variation, but same texture. There is also some silvery spruce which are more densely needled, and stiffer, so they stand up better. The Doug-fir with its weak branches tumbles over the edge, hiding the not very attractive container. And a few crocosmia stems with their seed heads are sticking out like satellites!
And finally the boxwood container:
Not exactly up to Deborah Silver’s standard, but she’s a hard act to follow! At least these give you an idea of what you might do–and no doubt, do with more flair than I’ve achieved here. But I’m learning…