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CARSON ARTHUR: How to create something special out front


It’s officially time to start building your holiday planters. Even just writing that statement made me question my own insanity. Where has the year gone? How can the holidays be just around the corner already?

All that aside, maybe the holidays are what we need to bring a little joy back into a world that seems full of strife. A pair of planters at the front door may seem inconsequential, but a little bit of colour and festivity always makes me feel better coming home after a long day at work.

Here are my simple steps to creating something special out front this year.

First, you have to start with the fill. I personally avoid the florist foam because of the costs and the fact that when it freezes, everything is locked into place and you can’t make any adjustments.

I had a year when the wind and the cold worked against me and blew just half of my boughs sideways and then they froze in that spot for the entire season. Soil is an easy choice but be careful using soil in a planter that might split.

Soil expands and contracts in areas that get cold followed by warm followed by more cold. Instead, I go with mulch. It has enough compaction to hold everything in place, will freeze and lock everything where it needs to be and I can throw it in the garden next spring.

Next, start with your boughs in the centre. Now, a lot of people I know prefer to start with the height in the middle, but I’ve learned the secret from a professional florist that this is a mistake. Instead, start by building up the middle section with all of the generic greens, like spruce and fir, so that you can lock your tall pieces down into them. This gives the whole structure more stability and makes everything look fuller.

When it comes to adding height, I always try to work with a contrasting colour to the rest of the planter. Whites are classic, even tall reeds that are tan stand out against the greens and blues of the boughs.

By adding the colour in the centre, it immediately draws the eye to your decorations because of the visual drama.

Once you’ve added your height in the middle, then you can start adding the spillers — the pieces that hang over the edge and add more visual drama because they work opposite to all of the parts going vertical.

Make sure to add some bling as well. I am a fan of the sparkly covered branches or the bulbs because they catch the light at night and twinkle. Such a small detail is so easy to overlook as we often build our planters during the day.

Finally, add just one piece of whimsy. Just something small that makes you smile. Even if no one else notices it, put something unique in your planter to say ‘I did this.’

In my case, I love adding my little red cardinal. I found them at a dollar store and every year they come out and sit by my front door to say hello.

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