Why should the seasons of spring and summer get all the fun when it comes to hanging baskets? A holiday basket can be made incorporating materials from the landscape along with some ornamentation to make a hanging display for porch or patio. The arrangements are a unique and festive welcome to guests who arrive and an enjoyable everyday sight for you. View from indoors looking through the window as it hangs in an entryway or on a deck.
These holiday baskets use natural materials featuring aromatic boughs of evergreen. The gift that keeps giving they are inviting and attractive from November through February. As Jack Frost adds his natural touch in the cold months the basket will glisten and dazzle. Their appeal and glitter is enhanced by the natural movement of a hanging arrangement versus a static pot or planter.
Place the basket to be arranged in a pot on a table to make arranging easier.
Light weight potting soil is added to the hanging basket first to provide the foundation for the stems and branches. Once placed outside this is the soil that will freeze and hold the branches and stems in place for months.
Next, as we do with spring planters, work from the center to the outside of the pot thinking “Thriller” in the center, “Filler” as the next layer and then finally “Spiller” as we work to the outside rim of the basket.
Branches for the basket should be cut at a 45 degree angle making them easier to press into the soil until firmly in place.
“Thriller”: Branches of Birch, Scotch Pine, Willow, Red or Gold Twig Dogwood are examples of “thriller” centerpiece visual vertical placements in the center of the basket. These are the first additions to the basket working them into the center of the arrangement.
“Filler”: Working towards the outside of the basket we now fill with evergreen branches. Fraser Fir, Scotch or Austrian Pine, Douglas Fir, Colorado or White Spruce branches make great filler branches making up the bulk of the basket. These aromatic evergreens provide the gravitas for the visual mass of the holiday arrangement.
“Spiller”: White Pine with its long needles and nostalgic look provide a perfect addition as their pendulating look will crook or spill over the side increasing the size of the basket well beyond its borders. Adding some Cedar or Juniper provides visual interest whether used to augment the filler portion of the basket or as a spiller.
Finally comes the ornamentation portion of the project giving the basket your personal touch. Pine cones or Berry stems provide a natural means of ornamentation. Unbreakable plastic color ball ornaments can be wired to the branches using multi-color or a themed single color. Florist wire available in many bright colors is easy to work with and can weave throughout your arrangement adding additional interest. The addition of LED lighting in the basket will make it glitter in the nighttime hours, especially when nature adds the frosty touch.
LED lights are available in miniature so they subtly add to the feel of the basket without sticking out. You can avoid outlets or extension cords by purchasing some battery operated sets to nestle between the branches or your basket.
Deck the halls with some Holiday Hanging Baskets this season. “Season’s Greenings” and Happy Holidays with a little help from Mother Nature.
September is an ideal month for innovation in the garden. Fall Mums, Asters, Pansies, fall annuals and spring flowering bulbs arrive to help you rejuvenate your landscape canvas. It is truly a stroke of genius to garden in September. Plants put in the ground have plenty of time to root before winter and will be well established to perform in spring. Peonies, Iris and other perennials can be divided and moved. Tulips, Daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs can be planted. Flowering shrubs and perennials as well as trees establish well when planted this month. Here are some ideas for artistic splashes of color for your landscape that you can invest in now.
• For an artistic stroke to your landscape, plant Allium cristophii or Allium schubertii bulbs. You will be rewarded next spring with stunning unusual splashes of color in dramatic fashion!
Neighbors taking walks through the neighborhood will be sure to ask what those unusual flowers are!
• For a stroke of color combine sub-zero pansies with spring flowering bulbs planted in September. The pansies are available in a kaleidoscope of colors and will bloom this fall. They will bloom again when the snow clears, in spring the bulbs planted below them will grow through the pansies to flower above them. A bed of bright yellow pansies with purple tulips is an amazing sight in spring. Or blue pansies with yellow daffodils will provide dramatic drifts of color next spring.
• Buy and plant ornamental grasses in September. They provide immediate interest and will establish themselves now for future enjoyment. Most grasses have inflorescence (plumes of “flowers”) in fall and the foliage gives visual interest swaying in the breeze. Hardy and reliable as well as deer resistant they can dramatically change a landscape quickly. Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is a favorite of mine.
• Plant ornamental kale this month for unusual and interesting color through November. Although it won’t overwinter you will love the enjoyment it will bring you in the fall months. It will tolerate some frosts and even becomes more dramatic after a few cold nights. Plan on it looking great all the way to Thanksgiving Day.
• Colorful mums can be planted in containers with colorful stems of willow, dogwood or other branches poked through the soil as vertical interest. After the fall season the chrysanthemums can be planted in the ground for winter, cut back and mulched to return again next spring.
• Henry’s Garnet Itea is a fun flowering shrub with long lasting red fall color. It blooms in summer and puts on a great show in fall year after year. Or try an Oakleaf Hydrangea with its dark red to burgundy foliage on cinnamon colored exfoliating stems. When it comes to flowering shrubs I will always opt for a panicle hydrangea in September with ‘Limelight’ one of my favorites.
September is a wonderful month to experiment in your landscape with great success. The weather is friendly to plants and enjoyable for people to be outside expressing their artistic abilities with plants. Time spent planting this month is simply a stroke of genius.
Vines and vineyards have a rich storied history. From the Middle East to France and beyond there is evidence of wine production dating back to 4,000 BC and beyond with numerous Biblical references celebrating vines…..talk about “Da-vine” intervention. I use grapevines on fencing in my yard, not for the production of grapes, but rather the aesthetic feel it provides in my landscape. The same can be said for Hops (Humulus lupulus). With the interest in craft beers, growing hops not just for production but their ornamental qualities has become popular. Hops are an herbaceous perennial easy to grow. Provide sunlight and plenty of support and by August and September the presentation of foliage and “nuggets” (hops) can be quite spectacular! Hops like a rich, well-drained soil, so till deeply with good organic matter for best results.
The list of vines you could try in your yard is extensive and fun. If you don’t have a lot of yard space going vertical may be just the answer to create an intriguing enjoyable landscape. From Climbing Hydrangeas to Trumpet Vine, Honeysuckle to Wisteria, you may find you have to apply “tough love” and at some point slow their growth to encourage blooming via root pruning. A vine wants to grow and grow sometimes in lieu of producing blooms. In those cases some root pruning or stress will show the vine who is boss and get it to bloom.
Remember vines grow. It is their “nature”. Provide sturdy support structures with a tendency to “overdo it”.
Here are some vines I suggest you try in your landscape to get growing.
• Wisteria. Make sure to have a strong structure for this vine with plenty of room to grow. A Wisteria can swallow a structure or building but planted in the right place the blooms and results are stunning.
• Clematis. The key to Clematis is “cool roots and hot tops” Mulched at the base and with organic matter in the soil in a sunny area the flowers are simply gorgeous.
• Climbing Roses. Heavy feeders that need sunlight and support, if given these three elements a climbing rose can provide floriferous results for years to come.
• Trumpet Vine. This aggressive grower is easy to grow with some even labeling it “invasive”. That said if you have the room to grow, this woody vine produces blooms to attract Hummingbirds to your yard and provides a visual explosion. (note that both Trumpet Vine and Wisteria both may benefit from root pruning see mention earlier)
• Honeysuckle. With sweet yellow to orange and red blossoms this easy growing vine will attract pollinators, butterflies, hummingbirds to your landscape. Prune back hard in fall and the following year watch it grow!
• Climbing Hydrangea. With white lacecap blooms in summer and aerial rootlets this vine is a “clingy” must in the aerial landscape with glossy green foliage.
• Hops Humulus lupulus. An herbaceous perennial that is ornamental in summer and has broad interest due to the craft beer industry.
• Passion Vine Passiflora. For exotic blooms this might be your vine. Not hardy in most areas of Michigan (herbaceous habit surviving in zones 6 or warmer) don’t let it keep you from trying this vine for its intriguing blooms.
• Morning Glory Ipomoea. What’s the story morning glory? Easy to grow from seed in warm weather this vine has adorned many mailbox posts and lampposts in its day. A tender annual its tendrils are fast growing and adept at pirouetting.
• Moonflower. This tender annual vine has unique unfurling white blooms perfect to be used on decks where evening entertaining will take place. With moonflowers as well as Morning glories go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer (which grows more foliage). Supplementing with some high phosphorus will encourage blooming in lieu of foliar growth.