Friday, December 1, 2017

Illuminated Outdoor Christmas Planter

Is it just me or are Christmas decorations coming out earlier and earlier every year? 

This fall I was seeing Christmas trees in stores and on social media in mid-October. I love decorating for the holidays, but Christmas in October is just way too early for me!

Here in Southern Ontario, it starts to get pretty cold by the first of December, so I like to start my decorating by adding a few seasonal touches outdoors. A festive arrangement of greenery lit by little fairy lights was my first project. Here's how I made it:

I decided on a star as the centrepiece for my arrangement. Grapevine stars like this can be found at a variety of stores and nurseries (they even have some at the grocery store where I shop). If you can't find a star, you may be able to find a grapevine sphere or other similar embellishment. Birch logs wrapped in lights might also be nice.

In the past, Christmas lights always meant ugly wires in the daytime and long extension cords. 

Now, with these new LED options, the lights are on a fine filament that virtually disappears into the greenery of an arrangement. With the battery packs, there are no long electric cords. I did a couple of projects last winter with these lights and my love affair with them continues this year as well.

I found this set of 60 lights at The Real Canadian Superstore (Michaels has similar sets of lights). The copper-colored string was perfect to wrap around my grapevine star. In the daytime, the copper filament all but disappears. At night, the tiny LED lights make the star sparkle.

To illuminate the star, I began wrapping the lights about 6-8" up from the bottom of the dowel. This will leave a length of the wooden dowel free to be pushed into the dirt of my urn. I also left a length of the light cord-free, so I would have more room to manoeuvre when it came to hiding the battery pack in amongst the greenery.

Once I had the whole star wrapped, I tucked the end of the light cord in amongst the grapevines.

There are so many wonderful options for greenery. To save money, 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, fir, boxwood and cedar at the grocery store. 

To make my arrangement I am using an urn that was filled with annuals last summer. I cleaned out the flowers and left the soil as is. There is no need for fresh soil in a winter container like this. The main purpose of the soil is to hold the evergreens in place.

As an additional measure of security, I also dampen the soil in my arrangement. When it the water freezes, it holds the branches firmly in place.

As with any good container 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 urn. 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 arrangement.

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, oregonia and euonymus.

At the end of step 2, the urn has filled out nicely.

Next, I like to add some colorful accents with assorted fruit, berries and pinecones. 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.

I used a mix of blue juniper berries, pinecones and faux red berries in my urn.

The final task is to add your star and the lights. I pushed the star into the centre and tucked the battery pack in behind the greenery. Then I added one additional string of lights.

I found this set of indoor/outdoor lights at Walmart for under $10. It has a green cord that disappears in amongst the greenery in the urn. This light set runs on three AA batteries.

The two battery packs get tucked in amongst the greenery at the back of the arrangement.

Here's the final arrangement all lit up at dusk. 

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  1. Wonderful arrangement and great idea for I have the same planter in black.

    1. Good luck with filling your black urn Janneke. I am sure it will look terrific.

  2. Gorgeous, as with most everything you do!!

  3. Jennifer, I love your planters! You can definitely teach me a thing or two about decorating. I checked into the battery powered lights, what a great idea. Amazing to see they have a really long lifespan when lit.

    1. They do hold up pretty well. The wreaths I did last year with similar lights lasted well into the new year without a change of batteries.

  4. This is beautiful, Jennifer, and it looks relatively simple to do.
    I can imagine lots of variations here too.
    Thank you so very much for sharing, and I wish you a wonderful week!

    1. I am sure there are lots of great variations possible. I hope you have a wonderful week too Lisa!


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