Edible Gardening

Arrangements that Chase the Winter Blues


These outdoor arrangements can last for 6 weeks on your doorstep.

It is a quiet time again in my garden as summer perennials are cut back, trees and shrubs have lost their leaves and even the last asters are gone.  This is the season that my reliable favorites really stand out. Evergreens like Chindo Viburnum with its super glossy deep green leaves, Yoshino Cryptomeria with its drapey tassles tipped with tiny straw colored buds, the variegated Osmanthus that looks like a white-leafed holly, and my tall Nandina domestica or “Heavenly Bamboo” with its heavy clusters of red berries, “Gold mop’ Cryptomerias that provide bright yellow color right through the winter, and of course, Boxwoods, Magnolias and Pine, are all tough plants that really earn their space.

These plants also provide wonderful material for holiday decorating!  I have spent the past several days putting together fresh arrangements for Greensboro Beautiful’s annual “Holiday Greenery Festival”, truly one of my favorite events of the season!  It is TOMORROW (Dec 5th), 8am to 7pm, at the downtown Farmers Curb Market at the corner of Yanceyville & Lindsay Streets. The market will be filled with fresh wreaths and the smell of evergreens and apple cider, there will be music, food and fabulous gifts. There is no place that is more fun to hang out before Christmas, even if you can only get away for 30 minutes of your lunch hour!

Outdoor potted decorations are fun to put together.  Now that those summer annuals are gone, you can fill those empty pots with little pansies, or put on a whopping display with giant branches of Nandina and evergreens. Simply stick your cut branches into a pot of moist potting soil and leave it outside on your doorstep for months of color.  A bit of spray-on glossy lacquer will keep the leaves and berries from drying out over the winter.  (If you keep the soil moist, you may even find that a few things will root.)


Gold spray paint jazzes up these dried hydrangeas. Pine, magnolia, chamaecyparis and nandina make a long lasting arrangement so pretty you never miss the flowers.



This apple gourd took a year to dry. Now it is light as a feather, lightly sanded, painted and preserved for years to come. Decorations are simply tied to the stem.


What? You don’t have all these plants in your garden?  Time to make a list of what to plant the first of March!

Meanwhile, keep mulching up those leaves to top-dress your existing beds and to build up your compost pile.  As soon as my leaves are gathered up or blown back into the woods, I will be adding pine needles (mostly to slopes and in my asparagus bed) and wood mulch to keep the soil from heaving so much through our coldest weather.  By the way, I can’t believe the city is thinking of selling our leaves to Japan!  The good news is that we can get all we want for free at the White Street landfill and there is nothing better for creating beautiful soil.

If there is an area of your lawn where you are planning to add a new bed, now is a good time to pile a thick layer of wood chips over the area to kill the grass so you can plant right into it this spring.

Seed catalogs are already arriving in the mail, and I can’t wait to check for new varieties of flowers and vegetables to grow next year. Some of my favorites are Pinetree Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds, and Territorial Seed (the best catalog for teaching you how to grow vegetables.)  See the “Weblinks” page of my website for more info, and let me know what cool seeds you find!

(I have room to add about 5 more students in my 2014 classes. Please let me know if you will join me!)

Best wishes to you and your family for Happy, Happy Holidays!