Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to make a Winter Hanging Basket



There was a time, when I took down the hanging baskets, that are filled with flowers in the summer, and stored them away for the winter months. Then it struck me that I was missing out on a huge opportunity. Winter is a long season here in Canada (or at least it feels that way). Why not use those same hanging baskets to put some color back into those drab, cold months?

So as well as the metal urns and window boxes, I started to fill my hanging baskets with greenery and berries. 


Altogether I have quite a few containers of one type or another to fill, so I try to forage as much as possible from the yard and the adjacent woodlot. I harvest responsibly, pruning branches carefully, so that I never damage the trees or shrubs I am cutting.

In the shady part of the garden, I am lucky to have quite a number of yews. Every fall they get a good haircut which leaves me with quite a bit of raw material for my winter arrangements. But even with the yew, I don't have quite enough evergreen boughs to fill all my containers, so I also buy mixed bunches of pine, fur, boxwood, oregonia and cedar at the grocery store. 

Once upon a time Magnolia leaves were one of the pricy winter container options, but for the last few years Walmart has had them available for a very reasonable cost. So I buy a few magnolia branches as well. Magnolia leaves have those soft, suede-like undersides that warm up all the other greens.


Though it tempting at this time of year to add holiday bows and baubles, I resist the urge. The ground will be frozen in January, making it really hard to remove seasonal flourishes later on. Holiday decorations become cringe-worthy in February and March! 

Though I try to avoid a holiday look, I do add some fruit and berries to my baskets for a little color. In the garden I forage rose hips, crabapples and euonymus berries. From the store, I purchase western red cedar, with its little brown rosettes, blue juniper berries and incense cedar, with its golden buds.

Here's how I put my hanging baskets together:

Step 1: The baskets that hang on our front porch are actual brown twig baskets. If you don't have a woven basket like this, a traditional plastic hanging basket would work just as well. 

Fill your hanging basket with potting soil (if you don't have a hanging basket that is already filled with soil). The only purpose of the soil is to secure your evergreens in the pot.

White Pine (left) and Cedar (right)

Step 2: As with any good containers planting, use "spillers, fillers and thrillers" to create a nice arrangement of greenery and berries. 

Begin with the "spillers" that will drape down over the edges of your basket. For this I suggest long pieces of cedar and pine. Both evergreens have soft stems that allow them to hang down gracefully over the rim of the basket.


This is the basket after the white pine and cedar have been added.


Step 3: Next it's on to the "fillers" that will give the arrangement the fullness you want. 

For this, you can use almost any type of evergreen. I used pieces of boxwood, yew, spruce, noble fur, yew, oregonia (the variegated leaf you see above) and the magnolia leaves.


At the end of step 3, the basket has filled out nicely.


Step 4: The final step is to add some colorful accents with assorted fruit and berries.


If you don't have crabapples or rose hips, you can substitute with red winter berries, which are readily available at a variety of stores and nurseries. If you can't find winter berries or they're too expensive, faux-berries would work just as nicely.


As well as the two hanging baskets on the front porch, I also fill the wire baskets in the back garden.

It looks so much nicer than leaving them empty all winter! 


A hanging basket like this goes together pretty quickly. It takes just 15-20 minutes to make something that will look great throughout the long months of cold and snow! 

21 comments:

  1. Lovely display, Jennifer! I stuffed my dried (and spray-painted hydrangeas in my urns a few weeks ago, with a little luck they'll hold up until spring. I love the demo on layering the assorted greens, I'm always a tad rusty on the procedure. Never thought of using rose hips for color, great idea!

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    1. I missed the moment when it was best to dry my hydrangeas, so they are all still out in the garden. I never thought to spray paint them.
      This year, I haven't as many rose hips as I have had in previous years. I find them to be just as pretty as berries, so I love to use them in arrangements.

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  2. What a fantastic idea. Your baskets are just lovely.xxx

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  3. Beautiful! I'll have to try one of these. We have lots of pine and spruce...I should go out and collect some ground cedar before we have snow.

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    1. We are luck not to have had more than a covering of snow which melted almost immediately. I still have a few urns and window boxes to fill. Hope your basket works out Deborah!

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  4. FANTASTIC idea and post, Jennifer!!
    And they are just beautiful.
    I am pretty much surrounded by woods, so I should be able to find a lot of interesting "stuff."
    Will definitely be giving this a try!
    Thank you SO much, my friend, and have a great weekend.

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    1. How nice that you have so many raw materials at close hand. Good luck with your seasonal arrangements Lisa!

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  5. Your arrangement is gorgeous, and what a great idea, Jennifer! And very timely. Just today I noticed the summer flowers in the hanging basket in front of my house have expired. I was telling myself to take it down, but now I will do what you suggest instead.

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    1. I am sure any arrangements you do will look wonderful Deb!

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  6. What a beautiful posting, Jennifer. You are so talented. You motivated me to try this. I have five window boxes I would love to do, but that's a bit ambitious, so I think I'll start with just one hanging basket. P. x

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    1. I have the same number of window boxes pam. It does take a bit of work and lots of material to fill them all, but it is a fun kind of work.

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  7. Recently I was gifted two wooden hanging baskets and had already planned to use them for winter interest. Thanks for the how to-most timely.

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    1. Glad the post timing worked for the arrival of your new wooden baskets Susan. I am sure the baskets will look terrific when you get them done.

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  8. Quite beautiful and love evergreens during the holidays...I have many evergreens that I use for fillers on my mantel, baskets and ironstone. Every time I clip I worry is I took too much..but they always recover. A very lovely looking basket.

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    1. I always trim my yews back hard to fill all my arrangements, but as you have found out Cathy, they always bounce back.

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  9. Your display is beautiful Jennifer and I love the idea of the hanging baskets! Happy holidays to you!

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  10. Yes, why not have winter hanging baskets.
    Your display looks so lovely.

    May I wish you a Happy December - it will soon be here!

    All the best Jan

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  11. Beautiful basket and a beautiful Sheltie, too. Thanks for sharing.

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