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Deciduous Interest

December 05, 2011

Perhaps you have already purchased your winter greens, scavenged branches from local Christmas tree farms, and are looking for accents that wont cost you an arm and a leg; deciduous trees and shrubs could be your solution. Interesting colored stems could be a natural focal point for a wreath or centerpiece, contorted branches could be a great insert into your containers, and never forget the added essence of berries and nuts in your winter displays. Vibrant branches and stems from red and yellow twig dogwoods (Cornus alba and sericea ‘Flaviramea’) are the most popular, but birch (Betula sp.) trunks and branches, corkscrew willows (Salix matsudana var tortuosa), contorted filberts (Corylus avellana Contorta), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), blueberries (Vaccinium sp.), and even the fuzzy buds from a magnolia (Magnolia sp.* can be an amazing, holiday accent. Remember that the best-colored branches of many of your shrubs are found in areas of new growth. If you are planning on maintaining a shrub or shrub bed to be harvested for seasonal and floral displays a technique known as coppicing is suggested. This maintenance practice requires pruning the shrub back to a stump slightly above grade to promote vigorous sprouting of straight branches without laterals, is most effective. Several species of willows (Salix sp.), shrubby dofwoods (Cornus alba, Cornus racemosa, Cornus elegantissima, etc.), and even birch trees (Betula sp.) can all be maintained in this manor if staging progressive harvesting over a several year period. Berries become alive when they have an all white blanket of snow as a backdrop but are best if harvested before snow and ice take their toll on their fleshy outer coatings. Crabapples (Malus sp.) are a holiday favorite and provide berries in a variety of colors ranging from bright yellow to deep purplf, but many other trees and shrubs like Russian and Japanese quince (Cydonia oblonga and Chaenomeles speciosa), Purple beauty berry (Callicarpa dichotoma), sparkleberry (Ilex verticillata), and vines like bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and grapes (Vitis sp.) can bring an added element in designs. Whether you are incorporating the decorative husks from a Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima), the famed Ohio buckeye fruit (Aesculus glabra), or the delicious morsels of an American filbert (Corylvs Americana) into a display you will not be disappointed.

The holidays do not always have to be dominated by berries; several elegant seasonal displays utilize nuts and their accompanying husks or shells into a sophisticated, aesthetic design. Explore the fruits of deciduous trees and do not ever be afraid to experiment with placing these plants in displays and bocquettes. Potted Plants Perhaps the gift of floral design has not been bestowed upon you and you still are searching for a way to make your house look elegant and inviting during the colder months. Do not be overcome by fear and contemplate planting a potted shrub or tree in your annual planters. Although they still require care during dormancy, several evergreen plants can be used in the planters that brought you joy during the summertime. It is important to make sure that the plants receive an adequate amount of moisture and are buffered by the elements if possible.”Several species can handle being planted in winter-hardy containers of an adequate size if properly maintained throughout the winter. Even plants like evergreen selections of sedges (Carex sp.), needled and select broadleaf evergreen shrubs, and some small trees can be successfully added to an exciting display and then planted in your landscape the following year. This web article will continue with care instructions for potted plants and an overview of the science and myths of dormancy. TBG has been blessed to have overwhelming support from several volunteers and relies heavily on their talents in constructing our holiday displays. Especially from the TBG Garden Club Forum, where floral experts utilize the attributes of any and all plant material to create masterful works of art. They are always looking for individuals to expand on their passion and are located at TBG’s front gates. TV Horticulturist Jonathan Milbrodt recommends the following reference books that he trusts the most for gardening information and plant identification.

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