Chicago Botanic Garden : Holiday Center Pieces

December 23, 2012

You can create beautiful holiday center pieces with things found right in the backyard. Nancy Clifton, Horticulture Program Specialist with the Chicago Botanic Garden (, joined us live during our ABC7 News Sunday Morning with tips on making center pieces.

Essentials to build a winter container:
- Structural greens for support like Scot Pine and Frasier Fir
- Softening greens like Western Cedar or White Pine
- Decorative foliage like Eucalyptus or Southern Magnolia
- Berried branches such as winterberry or taloberry
- Ornamental branches such as Curly Willow or Mossy Fruitwood
- Combine these five elements and you will succeed in creating a wonderful winter container
- Other materials such as fruit, pinecones, decorative pods and dried materials can also be added.

- Decide if container to be one-sided or to be seen from all sides
- Start by preparing container: add foam or soil or both
- First add your structural greens, select a tall wide branch, and always try to remove a few lower branches to leave a stem to insert in foam/soil
- If one-side place branch in back, for all around insert in the middle of container
- Add more of structural greens reducing the length and size of branches as you reach the pots edges.
- Use second structural green, if using more than one, follow with softening greens next.
- After softening greens add decorative foliage
- Ornamental branches, fruits and pine cones or other add on materials are inserted after greens.
- Finish with the berried branches
- Water container so foam/soil freeze holding stems in place
- Watch for locations with heavy snow loads and wind.
- You can also make containers for indoors just watch for drainage and heat sources.

Wonderland Express ( Through January 6, 2013
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(closed at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24; closed all day Dec. 25)

Regenstein Center

$12 for adults
$10 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors (62+)
Members: $10 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors (62+)
Parking $20 per car; free for Garden members.

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