We must gather at the river

Never mind the river. That song just popped into my noggin as I was getting ready to type.

Let’s get some stuff together for our patio decorations. All Martha Stewart like. So, get your team of hired help together, sharpen your felcos and …………what? NO HIRED HELP? EGAD! HowEVER will we manage? Listen up. We can do this.

Go do a light pruning on your red twig dogwood and get about 18 or so 3-4 foot twig cuttings and without the leaves. And hell, if all you have is yellow twig, get that. I do red because it is about 6 feet from the front door and I am trying to keep it to a manageable size. See, double duty: decorate and prune simultaneously. (If you are nice, someday I’ll tell you about the time I combined cocktail hour, the lighter and trimming the ornamental grasses. I called it multi-tasking, others thought we should have called the fire department.)

Then, you must liberate some more cuttings as we are about to make a fabulous, over the top, stunning, three or four month dazzling display for the front porch. We will need the same stuff for our winter pots as we do for our summer flowering pots: fillers, thrillers and SPILLAHS. Nasty old Boston Ivy, the one that turns bronze this time of year, is a good choice. I get together some of all these items:

– the black eyes of the former black-eyed Susans. I always leave these seed heads just for this reason.These add a wonderful little “pointillist” bit to the arrangement. As an oil painter I am thinking Seurat right now.

– some ornamental grasses, some with plumes and some without. Note, rain and damp will make the plumes close up but they will re-fluff when dry again.

-I am going to try to use some of the glorious leaves from my oak-leaved hydrangeas. They are a wonderful reddish brown.

-I kind of pretend I am walking through the neighborhood, Felcos hidden, and snag a few pyracantha branches teaming with berries.

– You could use crabapple branches. Know you may come out the front door to a thieving party of robins in late winter, dining on the fruits of your labor, especially if you were able to get branches with persistent fruits.

-this is THE time to harvest the berry laden branches of the nandina or heavenly bamboo

-also time to prune the laurels……a finer shiny dark evergreen filler you have never seen.

-corkscrew willows or contorted filbert branches.

-small squash or ornamental corn……….if your house has gold tones, stick with the more goldish colors, my house looks really good with the dark burgundy corns. Please, think this through. And do NOT do the hurdy gurdy gold and red. Stick with one main color just this once. It is called a color theme. Not a theme park. (Or as a friend once said, it is a Japanese style garden, not Japanese New Year garden).

-some of you will have access to the infamous bittersweet. I hate you. But use it.

-clean the old plants out of the pot, leaving the soil. We are using the soil as our “foam base”. Not home base, but I can see the similarity. You will want gloves, a broom and a trash can.

See cute photo. Now you know where we are headed. Stay tuned. We shall refine our arrangement during our next session.

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