Using Natural Greenery in Your Holiday Exterior Decor
Penny-wise potting: Instead of using a new floral form as a base for potted arrangements, simply re-use the same containers that held your annuals over the summer. "Don't empty your pots at the end of the season," Carson says. "Cut back the plants that are in there." Before the soil freezes, add the cut greens. The same rules apply to hanging baskets.
To hide the vessels, use cascading greenery, such as cedar and white pine for "a droopy effect" or dress up the containers with a jacket of burlap. If your home is right on the shores of Lake Erie, though, Carson doesn't recommend anything in a potted container or hanging basket because weather conditions can get way too cold. "It's better off in the ground," she advises.
Water or wither: "Cut evergreen needs water," Carson says. "The more moisture you give them, the longer they'll last." Windy conditions can also sap moisture from branches, requiring more-frequent watering. Crush the ends of the stems to allow the cutting to take in more water. Antitranspirants, such as Wilt Stop, can prolong the life of cut greenery by helping to seal in moisture and protecting them from the elements.
Year-round regalia: Since ancient times,
evergreens have symbolized everlasting life and hope for the return of spring. Give your holiday decorations a longer lifespan by decorating with live trees and bushes, such as holly or Alberta spruce. Cut holly doesn't hold up well outside, Carson says, as the berries may blacken under freezing conditions. Keep live bushes in containers through the Christmas season, and then transplant them into pre-dug
holes in the yard. "Have a hole ready," Carson says. " Take
the planting out of the pot, put it in the hole in the ground and mulch it
in really good. It'll have a much better chance for survival if it's
below the thaw-freeze level."
Keep things secure: The winds along the shoreline of Lake Erie tend
to have higher velocities than winds further inland, which makes it that much
more important to keep outdoor decorations safe and secure. "You need
to watch how you are attaching things," Carson says. Wreaths hung by
a ribbon may look nice, but aren't that practical in outdoor applications.
Carson solves the problem by using wire to hang the wreath, then covering
the wire with ribbon.
Accents abound: Consider using other plant species to add color
and texture to an arrangement, such as golden arborvitae, incense cedar, blueberry
juniper and winterberry. If you do accent with ribbon, use something that
is weatherproof. "If you use cloth, the first rain will mush it." Instead,
use a poly backed velvet or satin ribbon.
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