Central Alberta does not have to worry about lack of snow this holiday season. The white stuff is everywhere. Adding colour to the outside over the holidays and throughout the winter makes the world outside appear a more hospitable place.
Wreaths or swags are decorations that go up easily and make a big impact. Artificial wreaths or swags will last for a few years before they become worn looking while live materials last a few months, longer if they are out of direct sunlight. Place wreaths or swags where they will have the biggest impact: on doors, walls and fences where they will be noticed.
Large outside pots and planters need not be empty all winter. Fill them with an arrangement of greenery. The materials can be natural, artificial or a combination of both. Choose a large container as it needs to hold a large arrangement. Small arrangements can become lost in the snowy landscape. Fill the container with sand, foam or potting soil to hold the branches in place. Start the arrangement by placing the largest branches in first, then fill in with smaller items. For balance, try to have the height of the arrangement one and a half times taller than the container.
Add small items and fine details to containers that are close to paths and doorways. These same details will be lost on arrangements that are farther afield.
Birdfeeders add colour; the feeder itself, as well as the birds that frequent it. Do not leave the feeder empty for long or birds will find another source of food. The colour and design of the feeder is up to each individual. The distance between the perch and seed determines what size of bird can stop and feed.
Another option is to purchase or make bird food decorations. The decoration would then be placed on a tree similar to the decorations placed on an indoor Christmas tree. The result is attractive and practical, since it provides food for the birds. It is best to have a few extra decorations to replace them as they get devoured.
Add a heater to the birdbath and watch the birds flock into it. Open water is a sought-after novelty during the winter months.
Large pieces of outdoor artwork add interest to the yard. Pieces can be put displayed only during the fall and winter or left in the yard year round. Where the pieces might be overlooked during the summer months in favour of colourful plants, they are the centre of attention once the weather gets cold. Choose outdoor artwork to enhance the house and yard.
The next time the temperature rises above freezing, make snowmen or snow sculptures. They can be dressed as with traditional snowmen or sprayed with food colouring or snow paint. Like all things made of ice and snow, they will melt on warm days, morphing into different shapes. Expect the parts of the sculpture that contain colour to melt first as colour absorbs the heat of the sun.
For people who live where space is not a problem, farm and acreage dwellers for example, there are always the round bale snowmen. These take time and patience to ensure that the bales are balanced on top of each other. Know that the effort is appreciated as it brings a smile to faces as people drive past.
Add a bit of colour to winter this year to break the monotony of the stark white landscape.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.