6 Branches and Berries to Spruce Up Holiday Decor

15 Jan

6 Branches and Berries to Spruce Up Holiday Decor

When business comes and I want to create some atmosphere using a table structure, I eschew the offers in the local supermarkets and opt to swing through my own gardens, snipping branches, gathering what I need to make an artful centerpiece that takes minutes to prepare.

Woody trees and shrubs with interesting bark or even stubborn fruits are well worth adding to the landscape — not only for their seasonal attraction outdoors but due to their usefulness in getting your house spruced up for winter holidays and informal gatherings.

One of my favourite trees for winter attention is that the multitrunked river birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’). It creates a dramatic statement with its textured bark, which exfoliates in rich layers of ash, silver, cinnamon and burnt umber. I’ve added this tree to a birch grove and revel in its colorful structure from inside my house; it is not something I usually snip, due to its scale and size, but I do collect small birch branches from the woods in my home to stuff in outdoor planters by the front door with leafy greens.

Listed below are some other plants and shrubs I like to cut for easy style.

Paintbox Garden

Eastern Ninebark
(Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)
Common name: Purple ninebark

Inside my Vermont backyard, purple ninebark retains its leaves longer than every other deciduous shrub. All parts of the shrub are densely colored, and its bronzed purple foliage and dark stems make this a great choice for tall structures. The dessicated flower heads are intriguing, providing some feel.

Blend cut stalks with snips of yearly coleus in shades of chartreuse, burgundy and magenta.

USDA zones: 2 to 7 (find your zone)
Water necessity: Average
moderate requirement: Total sun
Mature size: 8 feet tall with a 5-foot spread
Planting tips: Shrubs are elastic and transplant easily. When they are mature, cut them to the ground in late winter to rejuvenate the plants and keep the compact size. Purple ninebark is a fantastic choice for mixed boundaries and hedgerows.

Paintbox Garden

(Ilex verticillata)

Winterberry creates a show when planted in masses along a woodland border. The cultivar shown this is ‘Winter Gold’, which has unusual orange fruit which strikes its peak color in November and so is most eye catching after the leaves have dropped. Adaptable to moist conditions and poor soils, winterberry is superfunctional and contains knockout good looks.

When cutting branches, handle with care, since the berries easily drop off the stem.

USDA zones: 3 to 9
Water necessity: Moist to wet soil; tolerates swales and bogs
moderate requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Planting tips: The species is dioecious, meaning there are male plants (pollinators) and females (fruiting); both are necessary for fruit. Make sure your female has the proper male partner planted nearby. Mass female plants for best effect throughout the winter season.

Paintbox Garden

Redosier Dogwood
(Cornus sericea)

With its wine-red branches, redosier dogwood makes a great clump-forming tree to get a wildlife boundary or hedge. C. ‘Baileyi’ is revealed here in the foreground with a spray of fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) supplying great contrast.

Cut the stalks and unite them together with evergreen boughs in containers out of your doors, or tie small bundles together with twine and lay them over dinner plates for premeal decoration.

Additionally called redtwig dogwood, this shrub is notable for gaudy red stems which stand out in the landscape.

USDA zones: 2 to 7
Water necessity: Moist to wet soil; tolerates poor soils
moderate requirement: Full to partial sun
Planting tips: Comparatively fast growing, this multistemmed shrub can gain from tough pruning when mature to encourage new growth and contain the spread. Be aware that it is stoloniferous; allow room for it to grow. It makes an excellent naturalistic hedge.

Paintbox Garden

American Beautyberry
(Callicarpa americana)

For those who adore purple, nothing beats beautyberry. Shown here is American beautyberry, which makes an appropriate choice for pragmatic settings along with other U.S. sailors, such as Virginia sweetspire and anxiety marijuana. It’s a multistemmed shrub which produces clusters of purple fruit in the fall.

Look also for Japanese beautyberry (C. japonica) ‘Heavy Berry’, which has a pronounced fruit collection, or the white-fruited variety C. japonica ‘Leucocarpa’.

USDA zones: 6 to 11
Water necessity: Moist, well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Full to partial sun
Mature size: 3 to 2 feet high; clump forming
Planting tips: Utilize this species in mass plantings for high-wattage consequences. It creates loose, spreading clumps which could be hard pruned every couple of years to keep decent form.

Oakleaf Hydrangea
(Hydrangea quercifolia)

Hands down, oakleaf hydrangea has it all: peeling bark using mild caramel hues, deeply lobed leaves which turn russet together with the first frosts and a rocky character that’s easy to appreciate. Believe “rustic lodge” when making structures with those branches — use old sap buckets, classic pitchers or shiny ceramic vases, and set them using gourds and pomegranates.

A U.S. indigenous, oakleaf hydrangea creates a great plant for sunny borders and woodside borders, forming gaudy flower panicles which are effective when cut dry or fresh.

USDA zones: 5 to 9
Water necessity: Moist soil
moderate requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 4 to 6 feet tall with an equal or a larger spread
Planting tips: Gardeners in chilly climates can grow this in safe places; it is doing well here in my zone 5 garden, sheltered from north winds with a woodland border.

Paintbox Garden

Green Hawthorne
(Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’)

With the first snowfall, the red berries of ‘Winter King’ hawthorne stand out from the snow in a boundary that’s based in my kitchen window — what a delight. When cutting, I am careful to avoid the thorns that give this plant its name. I snip off the thorns, then cut branches for dry containers filled with birch twigs, pine, fir and spruce tips.

One of the great landscape trees for yearlong interest, ‘Winter King’ is a fantastic alternative for homeowners due to its moderate size and rounded form.

USDA zones: 4 to 7
Water necessity: Moderate; favors well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Total sun
Mature size: Grows to 25 feet high with a larger spread
Planting tips: Use as a focal point; combine with a backdrop of evergreens for best effect in winter.

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