I do have a memory of getting into my Mom’s rouge pot in an idle moment. Those bright red perfectly circular spots of red I applied to my face made her laugh. I was terribly offended, as I thought I looked beautifully dolled up. All these years later I still like how a little rouge can doll things up; this is never more the case than in a garden gone wintry. Red twig dogwood and preserved and dyed eucalyptus can enliven a winter garden like nothing else does. I am not a fan of red tulips, or red dahlias; the red flowers and the green foliage is a little too much excitement for me. But the excitement generated by rouge red, in a garden gone grey, brown and black ,warms me up.
Dark red eucalyptus and red twig paired with the blue needled noble fir is a dramatic color combination. Very dark colors are best in small spaces viewed up close, or places backed up by a lighter color. The lighter orange/brown brick of this entrance makes that dark red read loud and clear. The big round leaves of the eucalyptus are a great foil to any needled evergreen branches.
Bright red is all the more electric paired with a light green element. As no plant in the landscape has this form or color right now, I have no problem adding in artificial stems. Sometimes people ask how I could stand anything in a pot that wasn’t natural or real; it’s easy. Gardens make people feel good; if an artificial stem helps make an arrangement a little better and the winter a little more tolerable, I am all for it. This contemporary arrangement is all the more contemporary given the obviously faux detail.
I am a fan of many shrubs and trees that sport berries in the fall and winter. However, they have a short lifespan, cut and in a container. The berries of Ilex Verticillata, or what we call Michigan holly, are spectacular but fragile. The berries in these urns will look great all winter, and can be removed the beginning of March. The boxwood might need a little floral dye sprayed on it by then, but I like keeping the pots intact until April sometime.
This wired and windswept winter display was entirely inspired by the floral arrangements of Jeff Leatham. His floral arrangements for the Four Seasons Hotel Paris, the George V often feature flowers set in vases at startling angles. This out of vertical placement attracts attention instantly. Each one of these dogwood stems were wired individually so the form would be kept intact whatever the weather.
Cardinal redtwig is a relatively new cultivar that shines. It stands out so beautifully in front of the drab woodland background. We are sure to elevate the pot off the terrace surface, so water does not collect and freeze around the base.
I have good success using fresh silver dollar eucalyptus outdoors. As it dries, the color does become more subtly taupe-blue, but the big leaves are an invaluable texture. The littleleaf euc tends to dry much faster and not to good end; I am not sure why. Eucalyptus pods dry blue, and hold their color well.
This pair of pots welcomes anyone who comes to visit. They make a very strong reference to my client’s love for their garden, from a long ways away.
Likewise, this redtwig massed in copper pots, framing the view to a beautiful beech. Placed at least 75 feet from the road, they make a clear statement to passers by.
It is good to have something in place and ready for this day. This is exactly how I like my snow and ice.