Decorate with Textures from the Landscape

Lee ArmilleiField Notes

Although much of the landscape is going dormant this time of year, if you look closely, there are amazing textures all around you. Evergreen branches and winter berries are commonly embraced, but with a little more exploration, you can find interest in unexpected places. These textures can be used for outdoor planters, indoor centerpieces, wreaths, window boxes, and more. Below are some of my favorite textures, plus ways you can use these materials to keep the landscape spirit alive!


Evergreens are generally the base to winter arrangements, both indoors and out. Any and all evergreen branches are fair game. Spruce, pine, boxwood, holly, and magnolia are all favorites. Keep in mind that junipers tend to be more prickly and rhododendron stems will prefer moisture. To mix it up, consider aucuba, arborvitae, or microbiota.

Mixing different evergreen textures gives a rich, full display, while selecting only one evergreen for the base tends to look more contemporary.

Textures of evergreen landscape plants

From upper left: Norway Spruce, Korean White Pine, Boxwood, American Holly, Southern Magnolia, Aucuba, Arborvitae, Microbiota

Berries and Branches

Berries and branches provide arrangements with accents of color, texture, and/or height. Think about whether your display will be viewed up close or from a distance. For up close viewing, tiny details along branches can be appreciated. It may be better to bunch berries or branches to make a bigger impact if your arrangement is viewed from far away.

Added to an evergreen base, red berries from winterberry holly or red chokeberry pop against greens. Branches from red and yellow twig dogwoods are colorful, but can also expand the shape of your arrangement by increasing the height or width. Or look for budded branches like those of witch hazel to add texture. A walk through your own property may unveil unique berries, exfoliating bark, or curly branches.


Berries and branches from the winter landscape

From left: Winterberry Holly, Red Chokeberry, Red Twig Dogwood, Witch Hazel

Dried Flowers and Seed Heads

Dried flowers and seed heads can be used either as a focal point or as accents. Since we generally encourage property owners to leave perennials, seed heads, and grasses standing over winter there should be plenty around. Some of the plants you harvest for arrangements may be more delicate than others, but have fun and try what looks intriguing to you!

I love the attention dry hydrangea blooms capture; in a protected area, they’ll last for months. Try blooms from bigleaf, oakleaf, peegee, or any other hydrangea you have close by. Purple coneflowers not only provide seeds for birds, but can add punch throughout arrangements. Grasses such as Northern Sea Oats and Indiangrass can also add wonderful texture. We recommend to avoid using seed heads from the ornamental grass Miscanthus, as it is considered an invasive species and we want to reduce the spread of seed.

Dry flowers and seeds to decorate with in the winter

 From left: Oakleaf Hydrangea, Purple Coneflower, Northern Sea Oats, Indiangrass


To see gorgeous examples of these plants used indoors and out, check out our Pinterest board: Design with Winter Texture.