If you love gardens, as a participant or as a spectator, you might be missing your summer garden when you look out at the frozen remains in your backyard. Perhaps you moved plants in to protect them from frost but had to sacrifice others because some family member selfishly refused to let you turn their bedroom into a greenhouse.
However, the beauty of a garden is not confined to the warm months of the year. Making arrangements, formal and informal, from items found in your garden is a way to appreciate their winter beauty. When a small naked branch is used where it can be looked at closely, it focuses the eye on the exquisite details of nature — much like a Georgia O’ Keefe painting forces the viewer to really look at a single, small flower.
It is becoming increasingly popular to use evergreens, cones and bare branches to decorate outdoor containers for the winter. Use evergreens cut from your trees or purchased, and stick them into the soil of a frost-proof planter. When planting summer containers, several varieties of plants are usually mixed. Follow the same method and mix evergreens of various colors and textures in your winter compositions. Add interesting branches from red or yellow dogwood, twisted willow, white birch or any tree with exfoliating bark such as Bechtel crabapples. Berries from junipers, holly or pyracantha add color and depth. Consider including lights to increase the visual appeal.
The holidays provide an excuse to bring these same elements inside for decoration. However, when using berries inside keep an eye on young children and inebriated adults, as the berries may not be edible.
Evergreens may begin to dry after a few days, so keep them in cooler areas of the house if possible. Use branches singly or bundled on any flat surface with or without additional embellishments. Tree or shrub branches can be displayed upright with ornaments as a tabletop holiday tree.
Some people include sagebrush in their efforts to bring nature indoors. A few non-conformists even use large sagebrush as their Christmas tree.
During the summer we drag furniture, people and food outside, so it is only fair to bring some of the outside in for the winter.
After working for years in commercial greenhouses in Idaho and Utah, Susan Harris of Shoshone is a garden designer and garden coach. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.