Garden Photo of the Day

Cherry’s Winter Garden Decor

Garden projects to get through the cold, rainy months

Regular GPOD contributor Cherry Ong from British Columbia today is sharing some of her gardening projects for the winter, looking back at what she did last year in order to make plans for this season.

It’s almost that time of the year again when there’s relentless rain, cold and prolonged darkness. I can never get quite used to the darkness and the gray, so I look to gardening projects even through the cold months. Holiday decorating does soothe my soul to some degree, and last year was no exception.

Senecio candicans 'Angel Wings' (Zone 8 – 10 or as annual), Cupressus arizonica var. glabra 'Blue Ice' (Zone 6 - 9) and Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion' (Zone 6 - 8)I recycled the Senecio candicans ‘Angel Wings’ (Zones 8–10 or as an annual) from my hanging baskets, planted them on the feet of Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Blue Ice’ (Zones 6–9), and tucked in some cuttings from Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ (Zones 6–8).

Magic MarlotThough it’s a diminutive shrub, I never tire of seeing Skimmia japonica ‘Magic Marlot’ (Zones 6–8) in all its winter glory.

window box arrangementI used a combination of store-bought and homegrown cuttings to create this window box arrangement. It’s nice to have such a view while washing dishes in the kitchen.

wreathI made this door wreath last winter with a combination of store-bought and homegrown greens, an antler I found in an antique store many years ago, reused pinecones from previous years, and foraged birch branches.

handmade evergreen swagsHere is one of the handmade evergreen swags I gave away as gifts to family and friends.

Decorated winter urnA decorated urn greets visitors by the front door. I added a rusty sphere for height and some art.

Corokia wreathsI really love the form of Corokia (Zones 7–10) and used it for a short time as a houseplant. I made the wreaths from olive branches and cushion bush from summer containers and wired the tillandsia in place. These small wreaths made great gifts for family and friends who live in condos where bylaws prohibit evergreen wreaths and swags on front doors.

sweetboxOne of the most welcome scents in the dead of winter is sweetbox (Sarcococca, Zones 7–9). Ours are getting quite large. Any suggestions on when and how to prune them without sacrificing the flowers and fruits? I prune them as needed, but somehow I think there is a smarter way of doing this.

Agave parryi hanging basketThis is part of my zone denial. I leave dishes of hardy succulents out all winter. Semps (Sempervivium, Zones 4–9) are wonderful, but I have to admit that some of the agaves have succumbed to the weather. This Agave parryi (mom and pup; this is one of the larger pups) has weathered several winters.

View Comments


  1. nwphilagardener 12/02/2021

    These are a diverse and inspiring group of photos showcasing subtle and charming ways to celebrate the holiday season botanically without all the shiny and ornaments and sparkly ribbons.
    I imagine the sweetbox ought to be pruned heavily after the flowers end in late winter/early spring to make sure to maximize buds for 2023 blooms!

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/02/2021

      Thank you. I appreciate the tips on pruning sweet box. Happy holidays!

    2. joe_green_thumb 12/03/2021

      Yes, this is when I prune my sarcococcca

  2. User avater
    PKKing 12/02/2021

    Lovely and so creative!

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/02/2021

      Thank you. Hope you will have some fun creating some holiday decor using garden ingredients.

  3. sagebird52 12/02/2021

    Very imaginative and esthetic. Great work.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/02/2021

      Thank you for your kind words.

  4. User avater
    cynthia2020 12/02/2021

    Cherry - I enjoyed looking at your photos, thank you for sharing. I especially like the urn combination.

    I have a friend who loves gray and am wondering if she might like that Senecio in her garden...

    Love the comment about what one can see from a kitchen window - we spend so much time in there - a view is essential for me!

    Finally, the librarian in me found a few sources which you probably already figured out for yourself!

    Re: pruning Sarcoxocca
    "To keep the size and shape in check, prune only the tall forms and prune shortly after they’ve finished blooming (March-April). This forces new growth and stems that will then flower the following winter."


    1. Cut damaged stems first, such as those with blackened leaves or those that have dropped some leaves. Trim with pruning shears just above the healthy leaf cluster farthest from the ground. If the entire stem is damaged, cut it off at ground level.

    2. Trim any stems that extend around the edges of the patch into a path or onto a wall just above a leaf cluster about 2 inches inside the patch’s general border. If the stem starts at the border of the area you want to clear, trim it at ground level.

    3. Clip any stems that awkwardly grow beyond the plant's regular height at the junction of the stem and its supporting stem. If it does not connect to a supporting stem, clip it at ground level.

    4. Trim the oldest stems of sweet box at ground level to keep it looking young. The oldest stems will be woody and thicker than the rest and will be located in the oldest part of the patch.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/02/2021

      Thank you especially for the pruning tips for sweet box. Happy holidays to you and yours!

      1. User avater
        cynthia2020 12/02/2021 are welcome and happy holidays to you as well!

    2. User avater
      simplesue 12/02/2021

      Good info...I have Fragrant Sweetbox, said to stay about 3 feet tall.... and was wondering what some of the names are of the tall ones you mention?

  5. sheila_schultz 12/02/2021

    The holidays are surrounding us aren't they? I've loved watching your decorations evolve year after year, and this years batch is quite beautiful. The orbs are excellent, and as I look up and see the low pot filled with air plants on my credenza, I'm thinking that a rusted orb would be the perfect addition! Thanks for the idea, Cherry, have a fun weekend.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you and happy holidays to you and the family! I hope to see your gorgeous creations on GPOD and Fine Gardening.

      1. sheila_schultz 12/06/2021

        I'm retired, my dear friend. But, thank you for being hopeful! Hugs.

  6. gardendevas 12/02/2021

    How lovely these are — may the gardening continue!! I particularly like the Senecio/Cupressus planter. Senecio was unhappy in our heavy soil - I will try it in a pot next year.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you and please do. I love Senecio Angel Wings and it definitely is a must have in any garden. Enjoy!

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/02/2021

    Cherry, as usual your containers are wonderful. And that skimmia is out of this world.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope you have Skimmia Magic Marlot in your garden.

  8. brackenfairy 12/02/2021

    Cherry, you are a true artist! Thank you for sharing your beautiful arrangements.

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you for your kind words. Happy happy holidays!

  9. User avater
    simplesue 12/02/2021

    I really love that arrangement with the ‘Angel Wings’ and other things around it in the black iron urn- just gorgeous!!!!
    I'm looking for a recommendation on a tall variety of Sweet Box, is yours tall? Can you share the name?
    And your "handmade evergreen swag" on the black door is just flawless!
    You're really good at making those winter garden arrangements!

    1. User avater
  10. [email protected] 12/02/2021

    I'm always filled with anticipation when I see Cherry's pics are going to be featured- I think my growing conditions are quite similar. New on my wish list: the Blue Ice cupressus, and that skimmia japonica- Wow! And if only my olive tree and my callicarpa would grow big enough for me to use for decorations! But they will...Thanks so much!

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you. Wishing you the happiest holidays and many many years of fun times in your garden no mattter what the season.

  11. btucker9675 12/02/2021

    Everything is beautiful....

    1. perenniallycrazy 12/03/2021

      Thank you and wishing you and your family the happiest holidays!

  12. Meelianthus 12/04/2021

    Hello Cherry ~ Your arrangements are always beautiful and so full of life. What fortunate friends to receive your artful gifts and I can tell you really enjoy making them ;). I have never seen that particular Skimmia and am going to search it out for my gardens (of course I will then have to find room to plant it!).
    Have a wonderful Winter Cherry.

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