Containers for Early Spring

bachman's front containerWe are in the in-between time for northern gardeners —still a month or so too early to be setting out pansy pots, but oh, my, oh, my, those winter containers of spruce tips and red-twig dogwood look old. Adding containers for early spring is a great way to perk up your front porch, celebrate the season and get excited for the gardening year ahead.

Heidi Heiland of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens and the new garden store Heidi’s GrowHaus calls these “Fifth Season” containers. These containers for early spring can be whimsical or spare and can include a mix of real and faux plant material. Sometimes just adding some accents to your winter container and removing anything that seems to bellow, “Christmas,” is all you need to do.

lotus seed pods

Dried lotus seed pods add texture to the container.

Last week, I was invited to a preview of the Bachman’s Spring Ideas House, which was full of ideas for early-spring containers. At the front door of the house, was a tall container with white birch boughs at the back and a mix of pussy willows, faux magnolias and other flowers toward the front. At the base of the arrangement were dried lotus seed pods, which add an interesting texture and round element to the display.

My own front porch now features a tall container with a few pussy willow branches in it. The pussy willows were bought at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show and have looked good despite our up and down temperatures. It’s simple but a welcome relief from the pot of greenery and twigs that sat on the porch for several months.

Some gardeners will force bulbs inside and place the pots of tulips or daffodils on their porch or stoop for early spring color. You need to be ready and able to bring them indoors, if the temperatures get too low, but these are a great supplement to the blubs growing in your garden.

Other ideas for materials for containers for early spring include:

  • Twig balls! They come in brown or green shades and can be added to winter containers to refresh them.
  • Moss. A base of greenery will elevate even simple pussy willows.
  • Forsythia. If you have a container that can hold water, consider adding forsythia branches to it. They will bloom earlier, though the display won’t last for long. (Alternatively, buy some artificial forsythia to place in your container.)
  • Birds’ nests, Easter eggs, ceramic bunnies, any bits of decor that add a note of spring to the container.

—Mary Lahr Schier