Outdoor Woody Arrangements

Outdoor Woody Arrangements

Part of Ep. 1604 Winter Landscapes

At Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, Phil Mueller shows Shelley how to create colorful winter containers with berries, flowers and branches. Favorite plants for winter displays include dogwoods, curly willow, Fantail Willow  (Salix sachalinensis), Giant Pussy Willow  (Salix chaenomeloides), Flame Willow (Salix willow) and Winterberry (Ilex verticillala).

Premiere date: Nov 16, 2008

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We're in rural Soldiers Grove at Star Valley Flowers a very unique flower farm.  I'm with the sales manager, Phil Mueller.  Phil, Star Valley Flowers has been growing for 20 years.  I heard of you a long time ago. 

Phil:
You're right, 20 years ago, we started as a small cut-flower farm.  Now we're considered the largest cut-flower farm in the Midwest that doesn't grow anything in a greenhouse.  Everything's grown outdoors.  We're producing a lot of things that people might be familiar with at their house whether it's something like spirea or Cranberry viburnum Snowball viburnum, lilacs, things like that. 

Shelley:
So when you say cut flowers, you're not talking perennials.  You're talking trees and shrubs. 

Phil:
In the floral industry, it's called "woodies" things that have bark and a stem like wood. 

Shelley:
This is one family of the woodies. 

Phil:
Red twig dogwood is something we produce.  We're shipping it from Honolulu to Boston, all over the country.  This is something that we're using in the fall as a seasonal decorating item.  In addition to this, that most people know. 

Shelley:
It's in my back yard. 

Phil:
Here's another variety we grow.  Look at the color.  That's Cardinal twig dogwood.  My favorite dogwood, one that I have in my house as a cut branch is yellow twig dogwood.  Then the new variety that we started with this year is called black twig dogwood. 

Shelley:
That's my favorite.  Look at all of this! 

Phil:
Right here, you have four different items that are all naturally created, are extremely colorful and thanks to our Wisconsin climate, that's what we get. 

Shelley:
These are beautiful! 

Phil:
In addition to this woody seasonal decorating item we're also known for willows.  These willows, we sell through the springtime.  Curly willow is an item that is vastly used in the floral industry.  It takes up a lot of volume in an arrangement.  It's something that's a stock item here.  There's green and red curly willow. 

Shelley:
They just look so beautiful by themselves. 

Phil:
And as a plant in a winterscape, as well.  For something a little more unusual, this is called fantail willow, Salix sachalinensis.  It's from the eastern part of Russia. 

Shelley:
This isn't sick or diseased? 

Phil:
No, the plant itself grows like this but only about 15% to 20% of the plant grows like this.  The rest grows in straight shoots.  We're selectively cutting out the good stuff.  Two other kinds of willows.  Some Salix chaenomeloides or Giant pussy willow. 

Shelley:
Look at the size of those, they're cute. 

Phil:
This is nice thing to use in the winter whether it's the hulls that have a cooler color or in the springtime when you have that white catkin. 

Shelley:
You could use it either way. 

Phil:
This is Flame willow, for the color of the bark.  It's nicely branched, with a lot of volume. 

Shelley:
Very delicate looking.  Then you also brought berries. 

Phil:
We are known for fruiting branches.  We do things like bittersweet, Cranberry viburnum Blueberry viburnum, Snowberry, things like that.  This is Winterberry, Ilex verticillala the only deciduous holly. 

Shelley:
This looks like it's been out in the field. 

Phil:
This has probably gone below zero.  If we had cut this when we should've been cutting it which was maybe before it gets to 15 or 20 degrees, it'll have a more vibrant color to it.  But for outdoor decorating, that doesn't really matter. 

Shelley:
If I'm growing it at home, it doesn't matter.  If I want it brighter, get out there earlier. 

Phil:
Yeah, when you get around to it cut it and throw it in a pot. 

Shelley:
You keep talking about throwing this stuff in a pot.  How are you using this in outdoor decorations? 

Phil:
Well, most everybody has some kind of urn or pot that maybe at one time in the year had mums or something like that, that's now dead.  Rip that out.  Instead of having it empty through the winter, takes those dead plants out and put something else in here.  We have filled this urn with soil.  We put in some red twig dogwood and Fantail willow in the center to give it some height and volume.  Then we've taken some greenery and put it in.  Here you go, Shelley, put a few of those in.  The idea here is to create something that's bountiful. 

Shelley:
One trick that I know is that if you water this especially during the cold season it's going to freeze and it won't move. 

Phil:
No, and actually, when it does thaw out you'll be ready to plant.  So maybe in March or April, you can put something else in.  Then we can throw in a little Winterberry just to have more color.  You would fill this in and have this overflowing. 

Shelley:
Let's put this out of the way and look at other options. 

Phil:
We put a few more here. 

Shelley:
Is this terra cotta? 

Phil:
No, we've used a plastic pot.  For terra cotta, it's important to put a liner in it so that you're not going to pop the pot when the water and soil freezes.  Here we've got a variety of green, some Winterberry some curly willow and pussy willow that we've bundled together. 

Shelley:
I like it bundled like that. 

Phil:
It's a stronger look, more of an accent.  You see it very clearly. 

Shelley:
It has an impact. 

Phil:
Here, we've taken some yellow dogwood, some greenery and we've bundled some Cardinal dogwood.  But what we've really done that's interesting is we've taken one of these hanging baskets, which most people have anyhow. 

Shelley:
At the end of the growing season, they're usually ugly. 

Phil:
And you don't have to hang this but you might as well use it.  You don't even know that's in there.  Throw it on the entryway or the back deck. 

Shelley:
This one is my favorite. 

Phil:
This is probably my favorite, too.  I like the shape of it.  I like the Flame willow.  And it was also the easiest one to do.  It's simply a bunch of Flame willow stuck in the soil a lot of greenery, and some Winterberry for accent. 

Shelley:
We should be scrounging in our backyard or maybe start growing things with colorful bark or just keep our eyes open. 

Phil:
Most of these plants would benefit from being pruned. 

Shelley:
Thanks very much, Phil. 

Phil:
Thank you.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+
EPISODE RESOURCES+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.