It is time...to switch out the outdoor pots!
As much as I love this bountiful look, I need to work while the dirt is still soft. In Minnesota, our days are numbered and a couple of cold nights can turn the dirt in my pots to complete, unworkable hardness. So today I will share my steps to outside, holiday prettiness!
My first stop is to Minnetonka Drive-In in Spring Park. This old A&W drive-in is run by the Bennyhoff family. I've been going here to get my spruce tips for as long as I remember, because theirs are the absolute best! I'm also partial to supporting their family business, since their mom was my wonderful accompanist whenever I sang at our old church! Here's Dave who runs the drive-in year round, and his sister Sandi who oversees the fall/winter seasonal offerings.
Everything from red and green dogwood branches, to curly willow, to magnolia leaves and gray-green euclyptus. You can create whatever look fits with your personal style. Closer to Thanksgiving, they will have wreaths and beautiful, fresh-cut trees.
I've got my spruce tip bundles. I pick up some dirt at the local garden center on the way home. I use a combo of potting soil and topsoil. The potting soil is light and the topsoil is heavy with a higher moisture content, so the dirt will freeze hard.
Once my pots are full of dirt, I open the bundles of spruce tips and arrange them from tallest to shortest. Just a note: spruce tips are not the actual top portion of a tree. They actually grow in swampy areas of northern Minnesota and Canada. So you are not "wrecking" a tree by using these.
I pick out the tallest ones with the nice long tips for the center of my pot, and reserve some of the shorter ones with small cones on them for the perimeter of the pots. Some of the scragglier ones get hidden in between. I then trim off the lower couple of inches of branches with a pruner, so they will sink into the dirt more securely.
Once the tips are in, it's time to add the lights. I like to wrap the lights around the branches, starting at the bottom and working my way up. I don't like seeing all those wires in the daytime, so I try to have them hidden lower in the greens. Once the snow comes, they get hidden anyway!
After the lights, I add sticks and other textures of greens-long needle pines, flat-needle cedars and boxwood. At the end I add other pretties from around my yard-dried hydrangeas, sedum heads, black-eyed susan heads, pine-cones. Some years I like a country look and will do artificial red berries, red dogwood, and plaid ribbons in knots, other years I go subtle with grey-greens and will use pampas grass, hydrangeas, and eucalyptus seeds. My mom's english tudor home looks great with curly willow and magnolia leaves. Whatever your style, and your home's style-pots of greens are a great way to add beauty from November to March, without any maintenance! Before a cold night, I give the dirt a little water, so it will freeze hard.
Try something different this year. Try on some Patina General style and plant your beauty in a little junk: a minnow bucket, a spreader, a wheelbarrow, a feeding trough. It will make your arrangement even more unique. As I arrange for myself, I'll make sure to do some extras to have at the store the friday after Thanksgiving, just in case you need a few more decorating your home!