Tips on dressing up window boxes through New Year

? Now that the frost in many areas has zapped all but the hardiest of flowers, it’s high time to dress your window boxes and containers for the cold. Even if your budget is tight, you can put together a stunning display – one that can transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas and on into winter – if you re-use and recycle.

Scout your own back yard first and see what catches your eye, whether it’s pine cones from your spruce tree or seedheads from your sedum. Prune your evergreens, trim some red-twig dogwood stems and snip a few rose hips off your shrub roses. You’re not cheaping out. You’re making use of what nature has to offer.

“Containers and window boxes should be a concentration of the season’s best,” said Scott Endres, co-owner of Tangletown Gardens in Minneapolis. “So check out your garden. Go for a walk in the woods. Then go to a garden center for a little inspiration.”

We asked Endres to create an easy-to-copy window box of foraged finds and store-bought accents. By changing just a few items, he took one basic design and restyled it in three fresh ways. You can, too.

Bring in the harvest

Inexpensive squashes, colorful gourds and pie-worthy pumpkins serve as focal points that give this autumn window box a taste of Thanksgiving.

Here are some suggested materials:

¢ Foraged – birch branches; juniper branches; oak stems with leaves; rose hips; bittersweet; pumpkins; squash; gourds; kale; moss; ornamental grass.

¢ Store-bought – dried eucalyptus; magnolia leaves.

¢ Ornamental kale adds texture and a burst of cold-hardy color.

¢ Could also use cabbage; pansies; mums.

¢ Squash creates a focal point and lends a traditional harvest look with an eye-catching twist.

¢ Could also use edible pumpkins; gourds.

¢ Rose Hips bring a spot of much-needed color to harvest and holiday displays.

¢ Could also use bittersweet; viburnum branches; red-twig dogwood branches; sumac branches.

At home with the holidays

For a more festive feel, Endres got rid of the harvest-hued vegetables, added a few Christmasy items and pumped up the red-and-green color scheme.

¢ Remove – squash, pumpkins, gourds, oak stems.

¢ Keep – rose hips, bittersweet, grasses, moss, eucalyptus, magnolia.

¢ Add – Norway pine; boxwood; pine cones; glass ornaments

¢ Pine cones make for a festive focal point (especially oversized sugar cones).

¢ Could also use scavenged pine cones (group several together for impact); seed heads from your garden; groups of stems or branches.

¢ Glass ornaments give this arrangement a distinctly holiday feel.

¢ Could also use grapevine balls, dried pomegranates, dried oranges, vintage toys, wired ribbon, twinkle lights.

¢ Norway Pine Boughs provide a wintry backdrop.