by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Winter is the season to bring fresh evergreens inside for remembrances of growing seasons past and fragrance that can only come fresh from the forest. Cut sprigs can be carried inside anytime in winter, not only for special celebrations around the Christmas tree. This column highlights evergreens made to be planted outdoors, their sprigs and branches for floral displays around the holiday feast, wreaths, and sprays.
FYI – pines, firs, boxwoods, and cedars are good for indoor decoration as they dry out slowly; hemlocks, spruces, and most broadleaf evergreens will last longer if used outdoors or sprayed with ‘Wilt Stop’ just after harvest.Greenery gathered from your garden will be far fresher than any you can buy, and the variety will likely exceed selections at even the most elegant florist. Plant now for these evergreens to take root and flush colossal spring growth. Shrubs such as cedar, holly, pine, boxwood, and spruce add an organic sensibility and often a natural scent to the indoors. Filling your home with fresh, fragrant, colorful greenery is never more natural than when you head out to the yard and clip whatever you need.
Below are some suggested varieties to use in holiday decorating along with links to further information and buying options. Of course, most seasons we carry these varieties here at Watters Garden Center.
Insider Tip – When gathering live greenery from your shrubs and trees, remember that you actually are pruning your plants. So consider carefully which branches to cut and which ones to leave. Distribute the cuts evenly around the plant to preserve its natural beauty. You don’t want to end up with bald spots!
Golden Mop Threadleaf False – ground-hugging little conifer loves full sun. Its golden color adds a Midas touch to wreaths and garlands.
Majestic Beauty Japanese Black Pine – fast growing conifer with extremely dark green foliage. Bunches of needles deliver a striking touch to a runner of evergreens.
Colorado Blue Spruce – rigid, tiered branches densely covered with stiff gray-blue needles. Good for wreaths, really effective just in a vase.
Little Gem Dwarf Southern Magnolia – smaller in scale than other Southern magnolias but with the same fragrant blooms. Makes a seriously elegant garland. Only evergreen magnolia that grows in mountains of Arizona.
Emerald Isle Leyland Cypress – tall and narrow, perfect for a high screen. Soft texture makes it one of the best conifers for a mixed evergreen wreath.
Whipcord Western Red Cedar – whimsical yet stately effect planted in mass. Let branches spill over the sides of a vase of red roses for an unforgettable show.
Castle Spire Blue Holly – seasonal wreaths, trimming packages, napkin rings, and dressing the holiday table. Every garden needs a holly for its year-round good looks.
AND A FEW “WHO KNEW” CHOICES!
Yellow Ribbon Arborvitae – tall and narrow, think flanking gold evergreens on either side of the front door. Also good foliage for winter window boxes.
Mountain Pepper – deep green leaves, red stems, white flowers, and foliage is edible. Ideal for tucking into ready-made wreaths for additional fullness and color.
Sienna Sunrise Heavenly Bamboo – Nandinas are easy and fuss-free, adding year-round color to borders. Add red-hued new foliage to a vase of white flowers.
Sungold Thread-Branch Cypress – soft and mounding form makes a sweet little hedge. Mix with branches of winterberries in a silvery vase.
Pink Tip Podocarpus – yes, new tips are pink. Snipped branches add texture to wreaths. Often overlooked option for a low hedge or ground cover.
Tuscan Blue Rosemary – in warmer zones rosemary is looking fat and sassy this time of year. Pliable stems just beg to be turned into little wreaths.
Golden Deodar Cedar – look at those nearly glowing cones. Need more be said? Specimen tree adds a highly graphic element to landscapes.
It’s cold outside, but that doesn’t keep our planting crews from installing some fresh new evergreens in the yard for you.
Watters Planting Crews are ready to help. With our 2-year planting guarantee, you never have to worry if your winter evergreens are going to make it through the cold of the holiday season.
Until next week, I’ll be helping friends pick the perfect holiday evergreens here at Watters Garden Center.