top of page




In this project, we will build a holiday planter, with guest June Spanier of June of All Trades. June will demonstrate how to fill the large 3-foot tall Sonata planter for the holidays, bursting with seasonal greenery and playing with traditional green and red colors.


  1. one 36" Sonata planter

  2. planter liner (that's what June uses) to fill the 18" square opening

  3. soil to fill 3/4 of the liner (or oasis, but June uses soil)

  4. gardening gloves

  5. winter greens from your local garden supply/greenhouse, or forage
    June used:
    · silver fir, medium length needles (1")
    · spruce tips (she buys in bundles of ten), short needles (1/4")
    · princess pine, long needles (2"-3")
    · cedar, trimmed to approximately 20" long branches

  6. oregonia branches, trimmed to approximately 13" long

  7. 3 pinecones on picks/sticks (sugar pine cones, or Jeffrey pine cones)

  8. winter berry, real or faux (from a craft shop)

  9. cardinal twig dogwood (or try curly willow) in thin, slender branches

  10. decoration bling such as ornaments

  11. a fabric ribbon bow, June puts hers on picks/sticks

  12. 3 birch logs, 30-36" long (June puts hers on picks/sticks)



First, start with a great container.  June chooses the 36" Sonata often for her commercial clients due to it's large estate-sized height, as well as the wide 18" opening.  This planter is ideal for cold temperatures because it is made of recycled rubber, and won't crack even at -40 degrees! 



Next, find the tallest of the spruce tips and start with this branch as your center.  Place vertically directly into oasis or soil. 


Continue building around that by placing more spruce tips on either side of this first centre branch, arranging them vertically.  This will build height.


In this demonstration, June uses nine spruce tips.  Continue placing them in the front and back of the planter to completely fill the top opening, securing the branches into the soil or oasis. 


At this point, identify which face will be the front of the planter.  Notice how June will push the last branches for the sides at a 45 degree angle, to create some direction to the sides to the right and left.



Now it's time for the princess pine.  Longer needles provide a soft contrast to the short ones of the spruce.  These will be added only to the front of the planter design.  Place five branches, one on each side falling at a 45 degree angle away from the centre, to create a spray along the rim of the planter.  Then, add two more on the insides of each of these.  Finally arrange a third in the center. 


Already you can see different textures with only two greens!




Silver fir adds contrast and interest for two reasons. 

First, it is a different color (more blue, or silvery) and secondly, fir adds another needle length.  

The silver fir is only silver on one side, and the needles grow very flat, so you can turn it to the silver side, or the green side for a completely different look.

June places the silver fir in both the vertical and horizontal direction at the middle of the front of the planter.


Complete the greenery base with the final additional of the last branch:  the cedar.  Cedar has a fan-like branch with a soft flat bright green needle.  Use this branch to add more texture and depth to the arrangement.  

June adds the cedar branches in between the silver fir, at a 45 degree angle across the rim of the planter, as well as across the height of the spruce tips.  

The cedar spray is feather-like and provides another beautiful contrast in texture.


Now that we have our base, it is time to add visual interest with focal points. 


PINECONES: June is adding sugar pine cones, and she put them on the sticks off-camera.  It makes it much easier to add the pine cones to the arrangements.  Place the pine cone sticks vertically into the front of the arrangement.

OREGONIA:  June uses huckleberry or oregonia, with small leaves.  Tuck these in beside and behind the pine cones.

BERRY SPRIGS:  These are faux berries, which will last with bright red color through the season.  However, if you can find fresh red winter berry it could be used as well.  June tucks these on either side of the front focal point pine cones.

DOGWOOD STICKS:  You can use curly willow, alternatively.  These add height without heaviness, drawing the eye upwards.

BIRCH LOGS:  June adds these last, and they are on a stick for simplicity when working on site at a client's home.  You alternatively start with the birch logs in the center of the arrangement and build around them.

RIBBON BOWS:  June makes her own, but you could purchase pre-made bows from a craft shop.


Remember to water the soil to keep the greenery looking fresh and vibrant while the weather is still warmer.  Once the temperatures drop and the soil freezes in, watering is no longer necessary.

Photography and video credits:  Dane Nelsen, Minnesota

bottom of page