Friday, November 20, 2015

Container Tips from a Pro at Sheridan Nurseries

It is and has been one of the best Novembers for putting winter containers together.  Yesterday the temperature was 17C -- a little over 60F -- compared with the fierce cold and snow last year, I feel like I'm in heaven!

Sheridan Nurseries invited a group of their professional clients to come to an all-day open house and attend a demonstration by their designer Mike to show us how we could channel our mini-Mike.  Not only did we get a private demo, but he was kind enough to share all sorts of his little tricks and tips.

This was our school zone - right in the middle of all the goodies!

While I waited for the event to start,  I had a quick run around to see what's available:

(Do you remember years ago asking the Christmas-Tree-Lot-Guy for some of those branches that were taken off the bottom of the tree.   Forget the trees - this is the business you want to be in!)

Nice, simple and traditional:

If you want red - buy it now - all of this merchandise will be sold out in the days ahead.

Same goes for silver and gold:

Some very cool natural elements:

Still reason for the birch trees to be very afraid.

Pine cones all dressed up: 

What's your vote on this folks?  Scrofulous or Fabulous?

We were introduced to the Sheridan Professional Team and to the man of the hour....

Mike our designer.  He would be taking us through two designs and offering tips and tricks throughout his presentation.  The first container was done in florist oasis - a less forgiving option than soil - once you've made your hole in the oasis, you've made your choice.

TIP 1:  Oasis should be soaked (hole-side down) in water.  Do not push it down to make it soak up water faster - you'll create air pockets.

Mike started with some gold tipped cedar, going around the container.

Tip 2:  All the branches should be cut on a 45% angle.  Remember these are living branches - containers must be kept watered until freeze-up.

Continue to build around the container.

Tip #3:  Hand sanitizer removes pine gum from your hands.

At this stage - before you add any of your faux pieces - be sure to wilt-proof (Wilt Pruf) your greens.  This will help keeping your container looking lovely - and when you've invested as much money as you have in making something this nice - it's worth keeping it looking good.

Tip #4:  Be sure to wind-wilt-winter-proof your greens.  Spray them until they are about to drip.

If you plan on keeping your pot at your door until March - think about how festivey you want it to look.  This may not be a problem in a southern climate, but here on this side of Lake Ontario - once the pot is frozen solid, you've committed, you'll have to hacksaw the former season out of the pot.  

Natural elements translate better in late winter than a disco-ball glitter pick.

And the final element are sweet little lights.

Tip #5:  Tuck the light switch toward the back of the pot in a spot where you can find it easily.

Now, this beautiful pot designed by Mike would retail for about $350.00.

Mike started the second container with silver fir.  It was going to be a pot viewed only from the front. This insert was filled with a heavy mix.

Tip #6:  Use a heavy mix in your pot - not potting soil.

Tip #7:  Over the winter with the freezing and thawing - pots can crack - that's why you use an insert rather than plant directly in your expensive pots.  It also makes it easier to swap out and change your design.

Mike cut branches at both ends.  If the container is well filled you won't notice cuts at the top of the branches.  The more you put in - the higher the perceived value of the pot - don't be stingy.

Tip #7:  Don't waste anything! Branches with just a few bits of green on them can be used as supports for bows.

Use branches at back to give height and to prop up floppers.

Tip#8  Prepare everlastings before inserting & use wire cutters to make picks and wired sticks the right size.

This insert would retail for $400.00.

Hint #9  Remember these displays have to look gorgeous from the street - more is better!

It's all about the effect - here's an instance where a bird in the bush is definitely better than those in hand.  

Thanks to Sheridan and especially Mike, who patiently answered all our questions.  I'm looking forward to using these hints as I put my containers together in the days ahead.

Hint #10  If you're collecting your greens now - keep them cool and out of the elements.  And, if you see something you like - don't count on it being there next week - buy it now!


Emily Khan said...

Scrofulous! :-)

Paul Jung said...

$70 for urn inserts? Darn, I'm in the wrong business!

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Wow, those look great. This is timely, as I was just getting ready to prepare containers on my front porch. Some good ideas. Thanks!

Barbarapc said...

Emily - vote counted!
Oh Paul, I know - saw that they were selling little tiny baby trees at Whole Foods - looked like they had lopped off the top of the tree and obviously can make more selling the bottom branches rather than selling the whole tree. Sort 'a like the auto parts business - the parts are more valuable than the whole car/tree.
Beth, Mike was great - you know once I tucked the branches into the mix, I never gave them another thought - and they did look vile by mid-January - who knew watering and the Wilt-Pruf was the key? B

Jennifer said...

What great tips Barbara! I am definitely going to try out the hand sanitizer. Just the other day my hands were sticky with pine sap and it was hard to get it off. The prices of some of those arrangements are incredible! The wagon is adorable, but $350? Yikes! The only problem I find with Christmasy containers is the ground freezes in your container and you are stuck with Christmas until April. I actually prefer to do most of my containers (scattered over the whole garden) in a more neutral theme and leave Christmas to a single container for the porch.

Kathy said...

You sure did learn a lot of tips. Wilt-Pruf--it makes sense. I have never really thought about planting up containers for the winter. Maybe I should. Maybe next year.