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4 Ideas for a Classic Winter Container Garden

The temperature is dropping. The holidays are approaching. And gardeners are wondering…what will the winter bring? How can I extend the love of landscaping and fairy gardening through the coldest months of the year? Though the winter brings questions, it is also full of opportunity for gorgeous container gardens, festive fairy gardens, and tremendous tablescapes. This week, I am taking a look at four key ideas all gardeners should consider when planning a classic winter container garden. Ready to dive in? Here we go!

1) Container
When it comes to planting a winter container garden, one of my first and most important concerns is the container itself. The thin plastic, ceramic, and terra cotta pots that served my plants so well in spring, summer, and fall are not a good fit for winter plants. In fact, terra cotta will expand and crack with repeated freezes and thaws. I store my terra cotta pots during the cold months and look forward to reusing them in the spring.

As I plan out my winter container gardens, I will be opting for containers made of metal, stone, lead, concrete, and thick plastic. I will add a plastic liner that is just a bit smaller than the pot, to protect the plants from any cracking. Whenever possible, I elevate my pots to ensure that they do not freeze to the ground. And I am sure to check the drainage holes every couple of weeks or so, just to make sure they are clear of debris and ice.

Winter is an especially important time to have a little fun with containers and winter plants. Colorful and unique containers can help cheer my neighbors (and myself!) up during the otherwise gray days of January and February. There are a wide variety of colorful pots on the market, and there are many reusable and recyclable options in my own backyard. An antique wheelbarrow or wagon makes an excellent home for a winter container garden or fairy garden. Just add some pine branches and a miniature house, and the container will be ready for a dusting of snow.

2) Color
It is easy to add color to the garden with bright pots and other containers. But I cannot forget the importance of colorful plants in the winter container garden. I may sigh while I set aside my flowering annuals for hardy perennials, but I know these plants will get me through the winter.

One of my rules of thumb: Always choose perennials rated two zones colder than the area where my garden is located. Some popular cold-hardy options include Hens and Chicks, Sedums, Coralbells, and Creeping Jenny, but every gardener must be aware of his or her own USDA Zone.

I also like to “spice up” my winter container gardens with fresh-cut boughs. Additions like red twig dogwood, winterberry, and other seasonal branches, twigs, and sprigs can help add color and texture to the garden. Some florist foam tucked into the bottom of a container can help branches remain upright when they are tucked between winter flowering plants and other winter plants.

3) Texture
In addition to bright colors that will add cheer to the miniature garden and winter container gardens, it is important to add a mixture of textures. Consider fuzzy winter plants, like lamb’s ear, or hardy winter grasses. In milder regions, succulents can add texture to winter gardens.

Other fun textures may not come from flowering plants, but from pine cones, dogwood spikes, seasonal branches, and even edible or artificial fruits. The right combination of artificial accessories and winter plants, the winter container garden can resemble a cornucopia bursting with life.

4) Shape
As I plan and plant my winter container gardens, I will try to think closely about shape. This has tripped me up in the past, when I have added winter plants and accessories in colorful combinations, but ultimately ended up with flat, uninspiring containers. My mission? To use simple, clean lines, mix “highs” and “lows,” and to have no fear when it comes to plants that trail or reach.

While many of my winter plants may grow to the same general height, I will want to add plenty of taller branches and sprigs, as well as cone-shaped miniature trees that reach high, pointing towards the top of my house. I also hope to add a couple of trailing vines that will creep down the bottom of the container or window box. Winter containers should aim for a mix of both, without being too busy. This is a difficult idea to perfect, but when a gardener does it, the result is beautiful.

Another fun option for the holiday container garden is the addition of round, oversized ornaments or decorative spheres. These come in a variety of colors and textures. Some even sparkle! After waterproofing, they are the ideal addition to any winter container garden in need of some interesting shapes, especially around the bottom of a taller plant.

Bonus: Scent
Here is one final idea for the classic winter container garden. Think about the ways in which you might add a warm or pleasant scent to your container. Seasonal branches, berries, and fresh-cut boughs all have charming, holiday scents. Mix live and dried materials, including boughs of Fraser fir, white pine, and Scotch pine, until you find your perfect combination.

Miniature Gardening offers a variety of accessories, fairies, garden tools & dollhouse furniture to create enchanting miniature landscapes for plants for fall and winter from 'miniature-gardening.com' or your yard. Story telling and imaginary fairy garden plants from 'Miniature-Gardening.com' bring the playful kid out in all of us. Filled with intrigue and mystique each little miniature garden scene you create is a snapshot of such a dream.

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