Even though you can't be growing petunias and pansies this time of year, that doesn't mean all of your outdoor containers have to be packed away until spring.
Containers bring a bright spot amidst the cold, dormant landscape of winter. Fill them with plants and other natural materials as the seasons change to keep a focal point of interest going.
Here are some tips for keeping porch containers working through the winter:
Less is more. During the winter, there is less competition in the outdoors to draw the eye, so use less for more impact. If you normally have three pots flanking each side of your door, scale back to only one or two. Or make two large containers and minimize the amount of materials in the other four.
Thriller, filler, spiller still applies. Even though the materials may be different in winter, use the same formula used to combine plants in the growing season. Use a tall element such as dogwood branches for thriller, rounded items such as dried pods, cones or flowers for filler and a cascading component such as evergreens for spiller.
Plan an easy transition from "holiday" to "winter" decor. Many elements such as evergreens and pine cones used for holiday decor in December transition well into simple winter interest for the months ahead. By removing red bows or glass balls that say "Merry Christmas," the rest of the container can keep the seasonal interest going until it's time to plant pansies.
Take a sustainable look at your landscape. Many of the components for winter containers might already be in your yard. Create your own scavenger hunt and look for:
• Berries, such as red/black cotoneaster, blue/green juniper and orange elders.
• Cones from evergreen trees and shrubs.
• Seed pods and dried plants, such as yarrow, spirea or echinacea.
• Colorful deciduous branches that can be cut such as red-twig dogwood or others with an interesting shape, such as sumac.
• Evergreen branches from trees and shrubs or the lowest branches that came off the Christmas tree when you put it in the stand.
If you still need a few more items, the local garden center can supply the rest.
Take time to create your own look that says "winter" and to appreciate the scaled-back ambiance of the winterscape. Sometimes, we have to look a littler harder this time of year, but Mother Nature has truly given us much to see and enjoy outdoors.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970- 468-0340.