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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Make Your Own Porch Pots. It's Easy!

If you're looking for something a little different to spice up your holiday decorating, "porch pots" could be the answer. They're fun and easy and Tagawa Gardens is here to give you all of the help and supplies you need.

What's a "porch pot," anyway?
A porch pot is a bit like a big flower arrangement. But instead of using flowers and ferns, you use fresh-cut evergreen stems and branches. The star of the porch pot cast of characters is usually a few "spruce tops." These are two- to four-foot tall sections of white spruce specially-grown for this type of decorative use. Harvesting the spruce tops doesn't harm the tree. The entire crop is sustainable, or you can be sure Tagawa's wouldn't recommend it.

The spruce tops look like slender little Christmas trees. Pop a few of them into the ceramic containers, whiskey barrels or whatever you have... containers that already spent the growing season on your deck or patio. Get this far, and you're well on your way to making your first porch pot. (And you're not looking at an empty container all winter!)

Porch pots can also be planted in fiberpots, and dropped down into your existing containers. Windowboxes can make beautiful porch pots, too.

What other materials do I need?
You won't need a thing we don't have at Tagawa's. By late-November, the bins in our Christmas tree area fill up with fresh, fragrant greenery from throughout the country. Incense cedar with its beautful draping branches, just right for cascading over the edge of your pot. Berried juniper, loaded with dozens of grey-blue clusters of tiny berries. Princess pine and shore pine and so much more.

Picking a variety of needle lengths and textures will add interest to your porch pot, and give it a professional touch. Tagawa's sells the greenery by the pound, so you can buy as much or as little as you like.

Ready. Set. GO!
Give all of your greenery a fresh angled cut with a sharp pair of pruners as you plant. Select a spruce top (or other striking piece of greenery, if you prefer), for the center of your pot. Water the soil first, so it's slightly compressed, and holds the branches in the position you want.

If this is your first porch pot, one very easy design calls for your tallest piece of greenery to be in the center, much as the tallest plants in summertime mixed containers often take center stage.

One by one, fill in the pot with a variety of greenery, creating a kind of roundish "bush" effect. If you don't like something, move it. Rearrange it. Mix and match. You're the boss!

Depending on your personal taste, you might want to add some dried materials.... maybe some of that ornamental grass that's still looking so good in your yard. Branches of red twig dogwood or curly willow look great too.

Or you can go glitzy with some artificial greenery and accessories. Aspen leaves with a coating of crystalline "frost." Stems with dark red berries for a warm touch of holiday color.

Add pine cones... dried flowers... or tiny ornaments that reflect your family's favorite sport or activity. Maybe a wiggly yard ornament like a snowman or elf would make a nice accent. The only rule is to have fun! As the New Year approaches, you can swap out some of the accents and decorations, and go with more of a winter theme reflecting ice and snow and fireworks.

Are porch pots hard to keep?
Porch pots last longer if they're not in areas that get lots of sun or strong wind. But even in more difficult locations, with a little T.L.C., porch pots can look fresh for several weeks.

Spraying with an anti-dessicant like "Wilf Pruf" will help the needles hold moisture and add life to your arrangment. You can spray the greenery (both sides) either before you plant, or once your stems and branches are in place. Just try to keep the preservative spray off the any accents that could lose some of their shine and luster.

Obviously, the greenery doesn't have roots, but the freshly-cut stems can take up water on a mild day when the soil isn't frozen. I have good luck watering my porch pots with a bucketful of warm water once a week, if possible.

So what are you waiting for?
Porch pots are fun and easy and anyone can make them!

Come see us at Tagawa's. We have lots of samples of porch pots on display, and plenty of friendly advice to get you started.

Be bold! Impress your family and friends with design skills you didn't even know you have.

And Happy Holidays from all of us at Tagawa's!

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