In the Garden: Stay green in winter with containers


Master gardener Lexi Burfield of London changes her window boxes and containers seasonally. As winter rolls around, she doesn’t let them sit empty. Instead, she cleverly arranges clippings of greenery and natural materials from her yard for eye-catching containers that last for weeks. The other day, she shared her tips and inspired me to give it a try. Perhaps you’ll give her fresh ideas a go, too.

Lexi begins by gathering varying shades and textures of greenery from her yard. She clips branches from her windbreak of spruce trees. She also suggests trimmings of boxwood, holly, hemlock, juniper, ivy, cedar, cypress, pine or the bottom branches of a Christmas tree. For accent, she gathers pine cones, hedge apples (also known as osage oranges), red-twig dogwood branches, curly willow branches and red-berried branches (e.g., winterberry, crabapple and even bush honeysuckle from the woods). One year, she purchased pots of miniature conifers to plant in the containers then later replant in the ground in the spring.

Lexi arranges the greenery in her containers and window boxes by inserting the ends of the branches in the soil or laying them on top of the soil. Some containers weather winter better than others. For example, terra cotta or ceramic containers may crack in very cold conditions, but most other materials (plastic, com-posite, metal and wood) tolerate freezing temperatures well.

Lexi likes to combine different shades of green and different textures to add inter-est. Once the greenery is in place, she embellishes with clusters of pine cones, vertical spikes of red-twig dogwood and other natural materials. She says ribbons and strings of lights can also be added to finish the container arrangements.

Celebrate the Solstice
Chadwick Arboretum at The Ohio State University is celebrating the winter sol-stice—the shortest day of the year—from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 18. At the free event, visitors can savor roasted chestnuts, drink hot cider, and walk the arboretum’s illumi-nated labyrinth. The event takes place at the arboretum’s Lane Avenue Gardens near the Agricultural Administration Building, 2120 Fyffe Rd. in Columbus.

Teresa Woodard is a volunteer with the Madison Co. Master Gardeners. Questions and gardening news items are welcomed at 740-852-0809 or by e-mail at madison@


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