Filling Urns With Winter Branches

Dec 10, 2022 | Projects/Crafts

Last year I planted my urns with living plants such as hellebores, Osmanthus and ornamental cabbages, but this year I decided to go with sticks. Lots of sticks, in various colors. 

Although I grow both yellow and red twig dogwood in my gardens, I purchased the sticks for the urns from the garden center, because I wanted longer stems than I am growing right now. They had regular red and yellow twigs, plus some longer dogwood stems that have shades of orangey-peach…irresistible! I combined these with curly willow, some red painted birch stems and unpainted, natural birch branches. I put two blocks of wet Oasis in the bottom of the urns to hold the stems in place. After the branches were there, I had to decide how to fill the tops so that the green Oasis was hidden. I could have stuck branches of evergreens such as juniper and white pine, but in the end I decided to go with pinecones. 

These urns get moved around to various places in my gardens. This year I decided that they should be on the front step. The boxes and pot that are behind them are planted with tulip bulbs for the spring, and I didn’t want to fill those with greens and disturb the tulips.

The front step is uneven flagstone, and this urn was leaning to the side…a fix was needed!

Dan cut some wood to use for a shim, and that straightened the urn out.

After the stems were in place the Oasis still showed down in the urn, so I collected cones from our native pitch pines to fill the gaps and cover the mechanics, without taking attention away from stems.

All in all, I’m pleased with how it came out, and can’t wait for a dusting of snow.



  1. Lynda

    Fabulous & fun idea

  2. Evelyn Pizzi

    I love this! It’s like an explosion of late autumn pre winter solstice of color! What a great idea! Last year, encouraged and inspired by your Happy Hour presentations, I became more adventurous with my container gardening. Especially for the winter season. Your lectures “introduced” me to the idea of using mini evergreen plantings, boxwood cuttings, branches and twisted willow to keep my containers filled with some greenery even during the coldest months. I have a beautiful bronze rabbit sculpture personally made for my 50th birthday and “Jack” is still going strong in his 22nd year of being outside in his own planter. But he always looked a bit sad during the wintertime when he was surrounded only by soil with just a trellis as a backdrop. Last year after listening to you speak about enjoying the outside garden all year round I bought a few mini gold mop cypress plantings as well as a wintergreen plant (which I LOVE), blue spruce and boxwood cuttings at Hyannis Country Gardens and gave Jack his own winter garden. He looked as if he was leaping out of a boxwood shrub into a field of mop cypress and wintergreen. I thought I would lose the cypress and wintergreen at the end of the winter season but I did not and they are still growing strong… all around Jack. This year at HCG I purchased a bunch of the white branches, winterberries and twisted willow along with evergreen and boxwood cuttings; Jack is definitely not lonely anymore! Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful creative ideas and, even more importantly, your knowledge and encouragement to try something new and different. “What’s the worse that can happen? You lose it…So you grow something else.”:)

    • CL Fornari

      What a great comment, Evelyn! Jack sounds grand. Yes, the secret to being a happy garden maker (and in much of life) is when you lose it, you grow something else.


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