Christmas Decor: Urns and Windowboxes

We generally try to get our window boxes and urns completed at some point during the week after Thanksgiving. Ideally, by the following weekend all of our outdoor decor is complete.

This year we opted for a more natural look. In the past I have incorporated picks with red berries and faux frost. Sadly, mice got into our Christmas decorations and ATE most of the fake berries right off the stems. Odd little critters. No matter. I was ready for a change anyway.

We start, of course, with spruce tips. They create the base of most of our outdoor decorating. We use one bunch of spruce tips (10 stems) per container. Having owned a small retail shop, we try to find a small local road-side stand from which to purchase our tips, although we have on occasion resorted to Home Depot.

I have an ongoing love affair with seeded eucalyptus, so I knew we'd incorporate that. Most floral shops will have this readily available, although if you know you'll need more than a bunch, you may want to place an order.

Since we had a bumper crop of Endless Summer hydrangea blooms this year, I decided we'd also add in dried hydrangeas. I MUCH prefer the faded blooms from Endless Summer Hydrangea to just about any other variety. They are a lighter shade than Anabelle and are much sturdier.

To complement the natural tones, we opted to add curly willow for height. We don't have a curly willow bush in our gardens, but I intend to remedy that this next year. I've had it on my list for ages, but I could never find a spot that I felt was right to add one. This past summer, however, a large birch tree was taken out by a storm; it will be replaced by a stand of curly willows. In any event, this element is also readily available at most florists.

While at the florist shop some silver bells caught my eye, so those were added in as well. Aren't they fabulous? I always try to add something a little unexpected; something you won't see in everybody else's arrangements. This year, silver bells is it.

Add in some arborvitae cuttings from our yard and, Voila!, we have everything we need. If you don't have an arborvitae hedge in your yard, you can find a variety of evergreen stems at most garden centers and many florists this time of year.

Now, to the urns! Since we live in a cold climate (Garden Zone 4), the soil is generally frozen or partially frozen by Thanksgiving. Mark, my ingenious husband, has taken to using a power drill to loosen the soil. Look at him go! Truth be told, Mark puts together most of our outdoor arrangements while I direct. We've been doing it together so long that he doesn't need much direction; all I really have to do is add in the decorative elements.

Once the spruce tips are in, we add the "height" element and build from there. We generally use about one bunch (10 stems) of curly willow per container. And since we didn't use silver bells in this container, we added more seeded euc, two bunches (about 15 stems, depending on stem size), which were added around the lower front and sides for a horizontal element.

We've added our base element (spruce tips), height/vertical element (curly willow), and horizontal element (seeded eucalyptus), so it's time to fill in and add decorative elements. Magnolia leaves, pinecones, dried hydrangea would all suffice here. We were quite happy to be able to incorporate hydrangea from our gardens.

When we stood back to see where we were at we realized we forgot the arborvitae from our yard. Oops! a few snips later and that was easily remedied. it really helped fill out the composition.

These urns, which flank our driveway, happen to be next to our arborvitae hedge. There are also Tardiva Hydrangea on both sides, which coordinate nicely with the decorative elements we used. You can really see the dimension the silver bells add.


The window boxes are all Mark. He works construction and thinks nothing of climbing up a ladder with a handful of greenery. I happily keep my feet on the ground while calling out the ideal placement for the hydrangeas—and snapping photos, of course.













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