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How to Make Your Own Christmas Urn

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How to Make Your Own Christmas Urn
By Rob Sproule

If there is any truth in the expression “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” it may help to explain the intensity of the love affair that we Albertans have with our gardens.  As we cloister together in our centrally heated homes through the depth of winter, we’re increasingly finding ways to make our  outdoor  spaces  just a  little  less  lifeless.

Every Fall we haul our big  pots away from our front door and into garages and sheds. To  me, this is a white flag to winter that it can cover our entire outdoors in white cold nastiness. Why not keep the pots  where they are, top them up with sand and  cheat winter by flaunting a fresh  evergreen container that will last through the  holidays  until  early  spring. The Magic of Evergreens
Instead of  staying  trapped indoors like a  besieged  army is at our gates, let’s get out and reclaim our porches, patios and doorways and fill them with life.

Classics at Christmas, evergreen  containers  can easily be “De-Christmasized” for visual appeal until the March thaw. While they look like only a  florist  can put them together, the fact is that anyone can make  their  own for a fraction of what it costs to have them professionally made.  Christmas Container Gardening

Materials Needed

While you’ll have a lot of freedom in the decor you can use for finishing touches, the basics you’ll need for your container are fairly tried and true. Load up with about 8 bundles of western red cedar, pine, silver fir, blueberry cedar, and juniper for a 16″ ish diameter container. Plan to give or take a bundle for every 2 inches diameter if the pot is bigger or smaller.

You’ll also need some sharp pruners. Treat your evergreen  branches  like cut flowers, snipping a good inch off the bottoms at a 45 degree angle,  which will make it easier to jab it into the sand. Grab a big bag of play sand and, if you want to tie balls and cones to sticks, some cheap  bamboo  stakes, florist wire and wire  cutters.

You might get a little  sticky  doing  this. While this means your greens are  fresh, it can also be annoying. If you’re  sensitive  to sap, or if you just don’t want it on your fingers,  make sure to wear gloves. Personally, I  think  the smell of  evergreens  on my hands is worth the stickiness.

Creation Basics  

Play sand is the best medium to use  because it’s fine  enough  that you can jab branches into it but dense and  heavy  enough to hold them in  place,  especially  when wet and frozen. If  your  containers are already half full of  spring soil, save some money by  keeping  the soil in and heaping  the  sand overtop. You’ll need 8-12″  of sand for a solid grip.

Central  branches  will add a  potent  vertical aspect. While the loop-de-looping  curly  willow used to be in vogue, many people I talk to lately are gravitating towards the clean,  straight  lines of dogwood and birch. If you’re using blunt-ended  branches  (like birch poles), place them first and pack the sand around them. 3 poles, angled slightly  outwards and at various heights,  will  look the best from a  design point  of view.

In an evergreen  container  everything  flows from the  centre, so  start jabbing your ingredients in the middle. Begin with the tallest cedar,  pine, and fir, selecting robust  stems  that  won’t flop over. Spiral your way outwards,  alternating the  types  of green you use as using  progressively  shorter,  floppier  stems. Think about your final shape before getting too far along; do you want a classical pyramidal shaped look or a  more  contemporary, off-set container with room for decor?

Take time for perspective. Step back periodically and walk around your creation, making sure you like the shape and feel of it. If you don’t then rip some out and jab that section in  again.

Decorating your Container  

Once you’ve  “greened”  your container and you’re  happy  with the  basic  shape of it, it’s time to break out the bling! There’s no shortage of this on offer at Garden Centres, from red berries (real or fake) to cones on sticks, flameless candles, balls, bows, birdhouses,  reindeer and Santa Clauses. It’s personal preference from here on in.

It’s easy to turn cheap Christmas balls or big cones into  container ornaments by tying or gluing bamboo stakes onto them and jabbing  them in like the evergreen branches. Keeners can tie bows onto the  branches and adorn the container with larger  decorations to add  visual  “oomph.” Wicker balls work beautifully for a rustic,  natural look. They’re cheap and  easy to tie onto stakes or even  evergreen branches.

If you want to go a step further in  battling the forces of  winter, drape outdoor lights through the greenery. You can hook them up to a  timer to make sure they greet you when you get home from work, just make sure they’re cool LED and not a fire-hazard.

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Read through our Growing Guides for tips to enrich your garden! 

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