Snippets: Winter Containers

Today I am excited to share Roanne Robbins’ first post in her new Studio ‘g’ series.  We are calling it Snippets and it will be all about container plantings and cut flowers.


It’s January and here in New England we are just starting to get winter. December was unseasonably warm and even though in the moment I loved the mild weather and the extension to my gardening season –Hooray for planting bulbs after Thanksgiving and feeling my fingers while hanging garland in December- cool temperatures are key to keeping winter adornments looking photo fresh.

So while it may be 3 degrees out, I am calling all gardeners to get out and toss the crusty wreaths, drag your containers into the garage and thaw them out or better yet, bring out extra empty vessels and get started.

Note: to all gardeners who ran out of time before the holidays and forgot to plant your winter composition, this is your 2nd chance! –   As odd as this sounds, frozen soil or no soil at all, here are some easy ideas for transitioning your winter container planting in the middle of winter.

cranberry winter containers for the garden

Shop your grocery store.

Materials and garden center availabilities may be limited. There are great natural materials at the grocery store. Artichokes, kumquats and nuts look really interesting when enshrined in ice. I like to fill empty frost friendly containers with cranberries and water. It looks very graphic and bold and reminds me of Andy Goldsworthy.

Repurpose the vessel.

Think of all the other ways you can use your container. Bird feeder? Log holder? There is beauty in functionality.

What garden items can be repurposed? Topiary frames, obelisks and white lights can be used creatively.

topiary structures with white lights


Display Nature

If soil is frozen build an interesting composition on top.

If your winter greenery is frozen in the soil cut stems to the soil level and begin building.

Make a moss landscapes beneath an over wintering tree.

Display moss vignettes, collections of pinecones and other cool treasures you find on daily walks.

Make a grapevine structure or snowball topiary (think croquembouche but with snow)

birch logs in a container

(images: Cranberries in antique Chinese mortars by Alyn Carlson, Bird seed wreath adorning base of dormant fothergilla while bird seed ornaments adorn the branches, Continuous Container Gardens, by John Gruen, birch logs with grapevine wreath and princess pine accents by Alyn Carlson, Topiary structures with white lights from Detroit garden Works, Burlap covering willow topiary structure with grapevine garland, Birch with moss underplanting vessel,  and privet berries and white lights, Continuous Container Gardens by John Gruen)








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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. Mary Starnes on January 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

    My name is Mary Starnes and I am the owner of The Windowbox Gardener in Indianapolis. Check out my facebook page at I have many photos from all seasons of container gardening. Please let me know if I can help or share. I am a long time reader of Studio g. Thanks
    The Windowbox Gardener

  2. amanda on January 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I am looking forward to more of these “Snippets.” Living in Michigan I stare out my window planning what a girl will rearrange come Spring. Thanks for sharing these ideas of what can be done right now, without moving a lot of dirt.

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