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DIY Dazzling Holiday Planters

Enjoying your outdoor space can be a year-round venture. Creating a decorative winter container is a creative process that will provide you with a beautiful piece that will last on your walkway, steps or balcony well into March… just in time for spring.

Similar to arranging ornamental pots in the summer, follow the three-step process: Thriller, Spiller and Filler. However you gather your materials, whether foraging from your own yard or a friend’s yard (with their permission!) or buying bundles of greens from your local garden centre, I’ll show you a step-by-step no-fail guide to achieve a festive container that will dazzle.

Create A Base

1. Create a Base

Fill your container up with soil. The soil will act as an anchor for the contents of the pot as well as give the plant clippings a drink for hydration before the soil freezes.
Add the "Thriller"

2. Add the “Thriller”

This will be the eye-catching focal point of your container. Most often it is placed in the centre of your piece, but feel free to be creative. If your container will be placed in front of a wall, you could put a tall “thriller” at centre back. It does not need to be tall, but your thriller should be different and unique from the other pieces in the container. Dogwood and curly willow are fun options that will also withstand the cold season. Have fun with it!

If you pick something tall and heavy like the birch poles shown below, dig them down deep and tightly pack the soil around them to secure them. This is especially necessary if your outdoor space is located in a windy spot.

Expert Tip: If using birch poles like the ones displayed in the photo, don’t place them standing straight up. Rather, angle them out slightly as to form a triangle if looking from a bird’s eye view. While not noticeable right away, a slight angle creates more depth and will give it the air of a professional job. The length of your selected poles should be relative to the depth of the container.

Add the "Filler"

3. Add the "Filler"

The thriller and the spiller are the eye catching components of the winter pot that receive all of the credit, but the filler is your workhorse. Select cuttings and clippings that take up a lot of volume and place them surrounding the “Thriller.” Boxwood and cedar are excellent filler choices.

4. Add the "Spiller"

Spiller refers to greens that drape over the edges of the pot, which create a look of abundance. Spillers can be stuck into the soil on an angle, as long as the stem is long enough.
Find a groove between alternating between placing your spiller and filler as you work, keeping in mind the shape of the container. This can be a meditative part of the process.

Adding another focal point in front is optional. In this example, magnolia leaves work as both a spiller and filler. Although more pricey at the garden centres, magnolia leaves are a beautiful addition to any winter pot and keep in good condition throughout the season.

Expert Tip: Step back often and observe what the container looks like from different vantage points.

Add more

5. Add, Revise, Experiment

Take your container to another level by adding fancier thrillers. Add as many bells and whistles as your design taste desires. Winter pots are an optimal time to play around and experiment with different textures, heights, and colors. Bedazzle your planters, feel free to glue a large pine cone onto a stick and add it to the mix. Go for gold, or silver, or red. Grab something festival and sparkly that inspires you. A specifically festival piece can always be removed after the holiday season. The most important part in creating your own container is to enjoy the tactile nature and creative freedom of it. It’s a bonus that you end up with a beautiful arrangement that will be a conversation point during the holidays and into the New Year. Expert Tip: The secret of a well done container lies in volume. Even if you only have two types of greenery, you can create an impressive winter pot, just jam that container full. Enjoy your masterpiece!
Finished Holiday Planter

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