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Holiday Containers...decorate with Panache! (Posted On: Wednesday, December 07, 2005)

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What better way to greet your guests and brighten your entrance way than a fabulous display of winter greenery in a wonderful container? When selecting a container make sure that it is not only striking in it's appearance but it is able to withstand the harsh elements that it will be exposed to including frost, thaw and high winds. Interesting pots made of wood such as 1/2 barrels, cast iron and fiberglass make great choices. Make sure you prepare your container properly by allowing excess water to escape through unobstructed drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Use coarse stones such as river rocks on the bottom followed by sand. Soil is not appropriate, as it does not allow the moisture to escape.

The bulk of your container can be filler found in your garden or nearby woods - be kind to the plant, as it cannot survive a severe pruning. Work from the base up securely embedding each element. Cut your branches in a variety of heights to create layers. Choose greenery that has a draping quality for the outside of your pot as they soften the look and create fullness. Some branches are flexible enough that they can be bent gently before adding them in. Add height and visual interest with sticks of character such as Corkscrew Hazel, Curly Willow, Dogwood, Birch or variegated euonymus.

Add your expensive greenery near the top layers. Make your choice to create visual interest by adding lots of different textures and colours. Good choices are Holly, Winterberry, Bittersweet, and a variety of Cedars, Juniper and Boxwood.  Select several branches that are thick enough to help secure the evergreens and can go deep into the container. We have some great local suppliers that carry a variety of material for your planter. Try Greentree Gardens & Emporium on Highway 26 or Smart’s Flowers on Hurontario Street.

Stand back and take a look - the minimum is half bough to pot ratio but a more correct look is one third pot and two-thirds greens ratio. 

So now you have the basics - the fun part is to personalize your container to make it amazing! Here are a few ideas that will make your container different than any other. Think outside the box, for instance, an avid gardener may have an old wheelbarrow that could be placed on the porch. Think outside the box for items to place in your display as well - here are a few ideas…


  • Try old ski poles instead of sticks for all you skiers out there.
  • The look of brightly coloured mitts tied to branches is a lot of fun - tie it off with a scarf instead of ribbon.
  • What about old snowshoes or ski boots worked into the arrangement?
  • Fruit can be skewered and added. The look of fresh apples and pears is amazing and well worth the effort of having to replace them periodically. 
  • Old Christmas ornaments impaled on sticks looks great and adds sparkle. Match it up with holiday ribbons. 
  • Artificial flowers such as Poinsettias add colour and texture. 
  • Little birds on the branches with nests tucked in for the nature lover always gets attention.
  • Finish off your display by adding some outdoor mini lights (make sure the colour of the cord is green...not white) to make your creation sparkle at night and welcome your holiday guests.

The list goes on and is only limited by you and your ability to securely fasten all your elements onto the display.

Have fun and I would love to see some of your creations. Send me an e-mail at

Season’s Greetings,

Cathy Lane
Panache Design Works

Panache Design Works specializes in corporate and residental event, seasonal and holiday decor. Make all your events a work of art! You can check out some of our recent projects at Ed Christie’s, Lora Bay, The Westin Trillium House, The Village at Blue, Historic Snowbridge and Blue Mountain Resorts.


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