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Let your garden bring the glitz to winter containers

The same pots that burst with bright annuals this summer can provide color, texture, and interest this winter, according to Abigail Rea, manager of horticulture at The Morton Arboretum. Many of the materials can be found right in your garden.

At the Arboretum, the containers around Arbor Court and the Administration Building get a new look in fall with gleanings from the landscape. Here are Rea’s tips for interesting holiday containers.

Make sure what you use can stand up to snow, wind and ice. For an arrangement that will last through the holidays to April, “it’s worth it to put in some effort now,” she says—but only if it won’t be in tatters before spring. Among the possibilities are stalks with dried flower heads of oakleaf hydrangea or Annabelle hydrangea; branches with colorful bark, such as red-twig dogwood; and stalks of ornamental grasses.

Build on a foundation of evergreen boughs, such as spruce or fir. The potting soil left in the pot can anchor the stalks.

Use short clippings from evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood or yew, to cover the soil. Stick them in at an angle and they will create not only an attractive green underskirt to the arrangement but a latticework to help hold branches and grasses in place.

Lights are best used on evergreens that can “hide the mechanics” of wires and plugs, Rea says. Lights on dried grasses or other dried materials are unattractive during the day.

To dress up a dried arrangement, look in the craft store for sprays that provide color or shine or glitter, she suggests. Rea especially likes to “glitz up” the fluffy dried flower heads of hydrangeas, she says. “It gives you a little bit of winter shine and shimmer even in the daytime.”

Click here for or more information on winter gardening.