by BRIAN MINTER
December 6, 2003
Hanging baskets in winter? You bet! One of the hottest new trends is to take scruffy, tired-looking moss hanging baskets left over from spring and dress them up into gorgeous winter baskets that add a touch of warmth, grace and seasonal charm to any home during the cold and dreary months of winter.
Recently I was looking at some rather bedraggled baskets swinging in the winter breeze. Wow! I thought, wouldn't they look great all decked out with Christmas greens. It took a few tries to get it right, but I finally learned to create a rather neat looking basket that stood up to the cold winter winds and looked fresh for weeks. The secret is to use a 12 or 14 inch wire basket frame lined with lots of lush green moss and packed with moist soil or peat. Leftover summer baskets work well. Next, cut fresh greens about 12 inches long and firmly set the ends into the basket so the top sides hang down gracefully. Make sure the greens are secure enough to withstand heavy winds.
The basket goes together much more effectively if you hang it up, or at least set it on a high table, so you can actually see how the basket will look from a hanging position. Don't cut your branches too long, but rather try for a balanced, graceful appearance. The type of greens you use will vary according to availability and the winter weather in your area. We use lots of cedar and cypress, but in colder areas, you may have to use spruce and pine. You can certainly mix two or three greens together, but for the most pleasing effect the basket should have a natural, rather than a contrived look. Start at the bottom and work your way up. On top, keep the branches rather flat to cover the basket rim. Now comes the creativity.
First decide the 'look' you want, then have some fun. For natural baskets, I use burlap or raffia bows in the centre with long tails hanging over the sides. Berries, either fresh or artificial, look wonderful tucked here and there all around the basket, but be sure to make them look like they belong. Pine cones add a classy touch if you wire the ends and set them in so they hang just a bit. Use white tipped cones because they show up so well. For some Christmas glitz, use gold, silver or beautifully toned ribbon, stem balls or whatever else you need to create that special look. It is really quite easy. In terms of care, very little is needed. In sunny or windy weather, misting the greens with a bit of water and keeping the soil moist is helpful.
The beauty of soil and moss is their moisture retaining ability and the weight they provide to keep the basket from being blown around by the wind. Antidesiccants like 'Wilt Prof' can be sprayed on all the greens to prevent excessive drying by winter weather. These baskets can make a spectacular addition to your outdoor decor. Once the Christmas season is over, take out the Christmas novelties, put a bird feeder on top and leave the basket out as a neat feeding station.