Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Raising the Dead

The corpses of Christmas past march forlornly down the streets, waiting for the trash truck.  Block after block they lie scorned, when just days ago they were lovingly decorated and tastefully white-lit -- or tarted up with tinsel and colored bulbs (but never mind those).

How about a second coming?

Consider the winter window box (that's one of mine above). Much of the filler is branches of pine and fir scavenged from the street to flounce down the front, replacing the summer potato vine, and stand tall at the rear to give oomph to the cabbages and berries that are the main show.

Another box, a neighboring street, a more modest display-- but charming, I think. Like a spot-colorized black and white photo. Here, sprigs of green form a  nest for pine cones. Given the winter chill (I hesitate to say cold since we're still wearing sweaters in mid-January) the greens should stay nicely at least into February.

It's so mild here that the roses are still in somewhat straggly bloom. If you hadn't thought of pansies and cabbages and ivy and such -- winter mode for your boxes -- and need something to punctuate the greens, the last of the roses would do nicely.

Stick them (or any other flower that's malingering in the garden) in those plastic rose/corsage water holders with the stabby bases and poke them about.

When the tree branches brown, as they sadly must, there's plenty else to replace them that's either free or reasonably cheap, for instance a snow storm of baby's breath.

For scavenged color without fuss, branches of holly do very nicely just stuck in the soil -- big ones for a lush back-drop, twigs if you've got greenery already in place or simply massed upright to fill the entire box.

Rhododendron and magnolia leaves mix well with berries but can also stand alone. Or combine them with cypress or yews for a shaggy drip over the edges, maybe adding a scented filler of rosemary and some tangled branches of witch hazel or bittersweet and rose hips for punctuation. Maybe toss in a camellia or two (in those water holders) just...because.

Needless to say, if you don't grow these plants you can steal them (on moonless nights) from your neighbor. 

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