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My favorite holiday decorations are the ones I do outside. It’s partly because they brighten up what is otherwise a pretty dreary landscape, but also because the decorations outside, particularly the containers, provide the most decorating bang for the buck.I love how with a few collected (and some purchased) materials you can create something that is really beautiful. These containers will last all winter and I won’t get sick of them, like I tend to do after a couple weeks with indoor decorations. I think they make the whole house feel more welcoming.

I took advantage of some unseasonably warm weather over the weekend to decorate three containers at home and another two at work. Although I purchased some of the materials for the containers, it would certainly be possible to create containers like these completely out of found materials (save for the lights).

holiday window box with steel ring: The Impatient Gardener
Holiday window box with lighted steel ring at night - The Impatient Gardener


Holiday window box with greens, dogwood twigs, silver dollar eucalyptus, faux berries -- The Impatient Gardener

I rely on evergreen boughs and dogwood twigs to fill the bulk of the container. Although I’m not a Black Friday  shopper, I swung by Home Depot Friday afternoon to pick up a couple $5 wreaths and scored an entire shopping cart full of the bottom branches of trees that people had purchased that day for free. I also collected some cedar cuttings from our own trees and purchased the rest of the evergreens: Douglas pine boughs and a small amount of incense cedar.

The dogwood twigs were harvested from my parents’ yard, where they grow alongside the lane, and I purchased the silver dollar eucalyptus.

Holiday container with birch, dogwood, greens, pine cones-- The Impatient Gardener
Holiday container at night
pine cone, birch, berry, dogwood container detail -- The Impatient Gardener

And it pains me to admit that I also purchased the birch branches. The face of the matter is that it’s hard to find slim birch branches that people will allow you to harvest (for goodness sake, don’t go cutting down someone’s young birch tree!). And although I think you could probably take any relatively straight branch of the right diameter and paint it white for the same look, it just seemed easier to pick up some 6-foot birch branches on sale at the nursery/craft store and cut them to the size I needed.

I pilfered a trellis from one of the clematis for the urn in the center of the garden and put a “column” of red dogwood twigs in the center for some color.

I do have a few tricks that I’ve picked up over the years from other gardeners and designers who nicely share such tips on their blogs. I cut thick styrofoam to size for each container and, if needed, use staked pounded into the usually frozen soil below to hold it in place. Then I can easily and securely fit all the greens in and they won’t budge. Here’s how to do it.

I also learned a great trick from Deborah Silver to create nice bunches of branches by bundling them together around a stake and using wire ties to hold them together. That way you only have to drive the stake into the pot. You can see how I do this here (a few years ago before I discovered the foam trick).


In the large planter by the front door, I also used some extra large pine cones I’ve had for years.

pine cone, birch, berry, dogwood container detail -- The Impatient Gardener

For the window box, I used a steel ring that I had not yet “planted” in the garden for the centerpiece, along with some faux berries, saved from last year, eucalyptus and more dogwood. I wrapped lights around the ring and then stuck a whole bunch of lights at its base to give the illusion of the center of the ring glowing. I’m happy with the effect viewed from outside, but I’m positively in love with the ambiance it brings to the inside.

Holiday window box from inside -- The Impatient Gardener

There is more decorating to be done outside and certainly inside, but for now, early in the holiday season, these containers bring all the cheer I need. And they also satisfy a gardener held hostage by winter. What sort of decorations do you do outside?

14 Responses

  1. So beautiful,! I have one questions. When you fill the window boxes. Do you water them to keep the greens fresh?

  2. These are all gorgeous! I like how you light everything up at night. How do you keep all the greenery alive throughout the season? I live in TX.

    Shannon ~

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