How to Transition the Container Garden From Fall to Winter with Textures

November 6, 2012

transistion containers from fall to winter with texture by roanne robbins via

My fall container compositions need a switch out.  The mums look tired, the veggies have given up and the grasses have not fared well in the enormous gusts of wind. Time has been escaping me lately and I am thinking that I should just transition my containers along before the next shift in the wind comes and I am chiseling away at icy soil. I have been hypnotized lately by all the fabulous plant life along the highway. Moving quickly

and paying attention to the road you really only get a textural impression- dense cones of reds, wispy gold threads, linear slashes of browns.

textural winter container plantingThough the color palette will be different. I want my winter containers to be all about long lasting texture. This year I will steer away from the ornamental pull of classic cut greens and opt for something more garden-like; a party of mini conifers, evergreen woodland treasures, heath and heathers.  I am envisioning red sticks slashing across the composition, grid-like webs of birch branches weaving in an out of crisp green bristles, wiry stems spinning around the base of the planting and pillowy patches of mosses resting in the negative space.

Here is a list of materials I am considering – maybe they might inspire your winter containers too:

  1. Birch branches  – both big and small.  Cluster together smaller branches; they can create a frame or larger branches might be used as stark beautiful trees when used upright.
  2. Conifers of all sorts.  – These can be cutting from a wide variety of shrubs or small plants.  Look to roadsides, neighbors yards (and of course our own garden), the woods and anywhere that beautiful greenery is persisting in the cold of winter.
  3. Moss – Walking in nature provides an opportunity to view and collect pieces in a variety of shapes and colors.  Make sure not to over-collect and leave some to continue to grow wild.  Also, a small variety of live mosses can typically be purchased in floral shops and garden centers.
  4. Boxwood – Boxwoods that are used for shape and for need regular prunings and late fall and early winter is perfect time to prune and use the trimmings to fill a container.
  5. Berried Branches – My favorite are winterberry (red) and Callicarpa (purple) but there are many other shrubs and trees that provide other colors and sizes of enduring winter berries.
  6. Colored Branches – Dogwood branches come in a variety of colors (red to yellow and even red fading into yellow).  Other naked branches tend to be shades of brown, but in a pattern, woven or in a cluster they might be more visually striking.
  7. Seed heads – Look to the garden for inspiration – grasses and many flowers have enduring shapes and intriguing textures.
  8. Winter plants – Heathers and hellebores are constant options.  But also consider bulbs like snowdrops and perhaps new shrubs (like winter blooming viburnum bodnantense) that can be later relocated to the garden to grow to its full size

planting for winter containers

And Now to plant shop! – Roanne

images Alyn Carlson


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