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So I said earlier that I would do a step by step of how I made an evergreen branch pot fairly cheap.
Start with a pot. I used garden soil (not potting) packed pretty hard.
My design will be one sided - this makes life much much easier and the container will be less expensive to decorate because you only need to decorate one side. I started with Fir (looks like Balsam Fir) branches arranged at the back to make a nice solid green backdrop. You could use other greens for this but I like the firm branches and flat fan shape you get from fir - I've also used Carolina Sapphire (Cupressus 'Carolina Sapphire') which is also fairly upright but much finer in texture. Leyland Cypress (X Cupressocyparis leylandii) could also be used. Important thing here is strongly upright - you don't want it being crushed by snow).
Pot with Fir
I used Ontario Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) for a "skirt" on this pot. I much prefer the shape and colour of BC Cedar (sp.?) but I was looking to save money and this was the way to go. Also the Ontario cedar will be exactly the same in April as it is now while the BC Cedar tends to brown around the first few warm days in March. I do my containers seasonally - one for post-frost spring/summer/fall, one for late fall/winter/early spring so it's nice having everything last until the dogwood is rooting and leafing out before having to take everything apart.
Pot with Fir and Cedar
After this you basically add whatever decorations you want. I have used very natural things like Sugar Pinecones & berries with Magnolia Leaves as well as more glittery seasonal things like large gold snowflakes and balls. I wanted to cheap out here so I went with a single 5.99 Ball on a Stick with some pinecones from something last year (Super easy table-top decoration - Brandy Snifter + pinecones (I used natural colour but shiny) and small ~ 1 inch green and red ball ornaments - I had extra ornaments and used them on the tree to help tie it all together) and filled in around it with white pine. At some point (doesn't have to be at the end) add dogwood or willow (or something similar) branches for height and a bit of extra colour (and if you use dogwood or willow then you get a number of cheap shrubs the next year too!).
Water well until the container freezes then that's about it. I have mine in a sheltered spot so it doesn't collect snow like it did last year.
So what did this cost?
6lbs Ontario Greens - $8.88 (Reg 14.99)
Bundle Dogwood branches - $7.99 (10 sticks, only used half here)
Red Ball - 5.99
Pinecones (had them last year, don't really remember but less than $10/10)
Already had pot & Soil so total is less than $30.
I had enough greens left over to make a small wreath as well (fairly boring though without adding a little extra to it) and could probably have managed to bang out a small door swag as well but didn't really feel like it do I just have a few pine branches still lying around.
Now I've been talking with my colleagues at work about this and apparently these containers are not wide-spread. My supervisor (from England a few months ago) says these don't exist back home (in a wonderful land where hardy plants can be grown in containers year round). They're not common or popular anywhere that doesn't freeze over either because, I suppose, the greens won't last very long then.