Things to do with Willow – Wattle Planters

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As I have mentioned before (a lot), over at Red Twig Farms we grow different varieties of dogwood and willow for cut ornamental stems. The majority of the inventory is sold over the holidays for outdoor containers and flower arrangements. Come spring, we look at the remaining crop and think of different ways we could have used the remaining stems. Last year we made wreaths that are great for winter and spring doors. This year we made four willow planters for an east coast garden.  These are very similar to all the wattle fencing you see in culinary gardens. However, instead of being willow fence panels wired together, we created these as one complete frame.  The best element of the solid design is the wrapping of the branches around the corners more like a basket. These were a labor of love, so will most likely will not be until next winter that we will have these available for ordering.

Things to do with Willow - Wattle Planters, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Things to do with Willow - Wattle Planters, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here are the planters we made prior to shipping off to the client. These baskets are 24x24x13 for size reference.


Here are some other examples of waddle fencing used in vegetable gardens:

Things to do with Willow - Wattle Planters, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here is a photo of wattle fencing at the kitchen garden of Daylesford Organic. These are created in panels that are joined at the corners. This method allows you flexibility to the size of planter bed.

Things to do with Willow - Wattle Planters, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

The garden is by del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show, their design for Daylesford Organic. Trust me, wattle fences are used by more than just Daylesford Organic.


Here is  a post with the wreath we made this past winter with the Red dogwood branches. These were very easy to make relative to the waddle planters. Next on the list for this year we are going to make an archway that will be great for the entrance to a woodland garden or for a wedding. Will share photos once its completed. See there is a never-ending list of things you can do with cut ornamental branches!

Container Inspiration – Art Deco France

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This weekend McCullough’s loaned containers for the Columbus Museum of Art’s Art in Bloom event. Placed next to the museum’s entrance, the containers nodded to both the Art in Bloom event and the current exhibit Toulouse-Lautrec 1880 – 1910 Paris. We took influence from the vibrant color of Toulouse-Lautrec’s artwork and deco cast iron to compiling the flowers and containers we used. Even though the containers are created using traditional spring plants (plus some amaryllis we had blooming in our greenhouse), combined in a small 3′ x 5′ area, the impact grand compared to the same flowers often lost in the landscape bed.  Sometimes coming out of a long cold winter going overboard with color is required.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Why this works and what we used:

The grouping of three different containers allowed us to fill the entire vertical area will color.  The curly orange willows in the tall background container allowed us to provide height that is often difficult to get in containers.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art


This rusty cast iron planter with its decorative feet and crest gave us some history to the grouping of containers that lean more to the traditional and modern design. The low height grounds the grouping with the rich reds and yellows.  The amaryllis are a off season flower, but the large trumpet flower looked right at home with the tulips and pansies.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art


We added only two lily plants to this container, but provided the hit of orange to reference the curly willows. The deep red tulips, dark pansies and sweet potato vine reference the low cast iron container while the yellow forsythia bridges the height between the tall curly willows behind.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art


Here is the containers next to the door for full scale and impact.  These containers are good advocates for investing in containers for  home, business or event entrances.  They are a small investment with huge impact.

Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Toulouse-Lautrec inspired planters for Art In Bloom, Columbus Museum of Art

Using Branches in Containers with Red Twig Farms

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Yesterday my article on Garden Design was published about using ornamental branches in containers. I intended to have a blog post up to accompany the article, but have been so busy creating client holiday containers and hanging decorations I got a little behind on the blog.


The stems used in the article and for clients are all grown on our farm in Johnstown, Ohio next to our offices. The farm is named Red Twig Farms directly after the scarlet bark of the dogwoods. You can find more information about the farm on previous posts here.



We have hundreds of plants that we harvest from each fall after the leaves fall and the bark has reached its peak color. By cutting back, coppice, each year we ensure the new growth comes back in tall single branch formats. Depending on the age and species of the plants we can get between 2 and 6 feet plus length branches.


Dogwood Branches


We grow red and yellow twig dogwoods. The red is great with the seasonal colors for christmas and the yellows are great all the way into spring. I like to use as many branches as possible in my container designs, the bundles above show 50 stems. The dogwoods are also very upright, so you can cram a lot into a container without spreading out too far in width. However you can also use just a few and will pop against any greens added to the container.


Example of yellow branches used in a spring or early fall container. 


Example of yellow branches used in a holiday container. We placed LED Christmas lights around the base of the stems to provide a glow.


Example of Red Twig Dogwoods in a fall container.


 Curly Willows


We also grow curly willow for cut branches. These also grow quickly through the season between 2 -6 plus feet in length. The additional benefit of these stems is the gnarly shape the branches grow and are very wide when used in containers.  We grow three colors (left to right  in images above and below): Black, Scarlet and Green.




Example of curly branches used in a holiday container design.


Ordering Branches

If you want to order any branches you can order from our Etsy Store. They are packaged in bundles of 50, but we can do in any order you wish. Also if you want a large bulk, you can email and get wholesale pricing.


Additional Holiday Decorating:
I will do a post dedicated to holiday decorating once we are done and that will include more examples of the branches in container designs. I have yet to decorate at home, and that is often where I do something a bit unconventional but also takes significant hours to execute.  I would love to see how you extend the season with container designs or if you have any questions about using branches.