Most people go to the cottage to relax. To sip coffee in the morning and lay in the sun. Maybe read a book and roast a wiener or two.
I go to the cottage to pilfer from the forest and judge people wearing inappropriate swim trunks. Honestly. There is just no place for G-String bikinis in cottage country. For a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is sand spiders.
I spend the majority of my days scouring the edge of the water, the beach and the forests for things I might want to bring home. Could be twigs or reindeer moss or small children I think are especially cute.
For me the cottage isn't about relaxing, it's about work, which often requires power tools, safety glasses and prescription strength deodorant. Oh! And those little boxes of Froot Loops that you tip on their side and eat right out of the waxed paper liner.
So last year when we went to the cottage my boyfriend didn't even raise an eyebrow when I told him I wanted to bring some Birch branches home. I do that sort of thing all the time. The eyebrow raising came later when he saw me sawing and shoving entire Birch trees into his obsessively well maintained car.
Birch trees are the perfect thing to pilfer from the cottage because they aren't the hardiest trees around and, in fact, tend to fall over and die with great frequency. Those trees that had fallen over and died? I took em. In the middle of summer, drenched in sweat, I had the foresight to bring em home for Christmas.
Once I got them home I cut them into equal lengths of 6 feet and stored them until it was time to do my planters. I stored them for the past year and brought them out again this year and they're still in perfect condition. Granted, there are many of you who don't have the inclination or opportunity to pilfer the forest. Lucky for you, you can now buy birch logs at garden centres.
Here we go! The basics of how to make a stunning outdoor planter.
If your budget allows, buy a variety of greenery.
If it doesn't allow, steal a variety.
If you're using large tree trunks or smaller branches, dig a hole for them. Insert the log/branch and then pack the dirt around them tightly. Tight, tight, tight.
At this point if you're going very minimalist you can call it a day and go inside for a Hot Toddy or whatever you fancy.
The rest of us will continue on, adding in the greenery.
I don't ever have a real plan other than dividing up the branches evenly between the 2 planters before I start working.
This eliminates the pesky problem of having used too much in one planter and not having enough for the other.
Once your greenery is in you can add whatever other embellishments you have.
I used pomegranates and a huge pinecone. The pinecone you can keep from year to year.
The pomegranates? Not so much.
As you can see, the result is very pretty. Mine looks a little more contemporary with a hint of tradition.
If you were to do yours in a more traditional urn, it would appear heavier on the traditional side.
Now most bloggers would be done here. This would be the end of the story.
But not here.
Remember in the summer I told you I used my Glowing Orbs in the winter as well?
Yup. It's time to break 'em out.
Tie a wire around them ... I used picture wire, but you can use whatever wire you can get ahold of.
Then tie one or two of them to the lower portion of the logs in your planter.
And then stuff them full of mini-lights.
Scatter the lights among the branches as well.
You have now created a thing of beauty ...
... that will only get more beautiful the darker out it gets.
There are a few more tips and tricks I could tell you about with regard to creating holiday planters but frankly I'm sick of writing this post . I'm dying for a coffee and my G String is starting to itch.
love your blog. i will read it daily
oh behave! I can't stand it!!!! First the summer lighting....now this?!!!!?
Yup. I can't help myself. ~ karen!
Ok, so here it is, July, 2014. I've only JUST now finished taking down my Christmas decorations from Dec. 2010 (Had to. We just moved into my son's old house in April.) and came across your blog...this post in particular (go ahead...go back and refresh your memory. I'll wait....la la la di da...get it? got it? Good!) and am having flashbacks of all the great things I was going to do with the front-end loader's worth of woodsy, foresty stuff I collected about, oh, 100 years or so ago.
Got old. Got forgetful. Can't remember where I put it all, but HEY! Bet I can start another collection! Good thing most of my kids still live in CT and can send a care pkg full of birch and stuff I can't find in FL!
Great blog, Karen...I think this post will be my all time favourite, though..."First Time" and all.
Pleased to meetcha! Keep it comin'!
Thank you ma'am! Sir? Maamsir? (Sorry it's hard to tell from the teeny, tiny picture, lol) Welcome to my site and I'm happy to hear you took down your 2010 Christmas decorations! :) ~ karen!
Just now came across your blog, LOVE IT! Love your sense of humour and writing style (am in Canada, so humour is spelt correctly). I am making these for our annual craft show and will let you know how much I got for them. Thanx so much for the entertaining and informational blogs, please, keep em comin'.
Thanks Lori! Good luck with the planters. No need to explain the spelling of humour. I'm in Canada, lol. ~ karen!
Found your website "The Art of Doing Stuff" as I was looking for some lighting ideas for my dark pathway. Solar is out of the question, since the sun is too low in winter time. I wanted to use a similar idea of lighting the walkway as I did last year... a glowing Santa Claus and Snowman, but that is a seasonal theme.
I like the globe idea, yet concerned if the little mini Christmas lights won't burn the globe from the inside, is it safe enough since they will be touching, or is there a way of making them not touch. And... I believe 100 light set (all I have now) would be too much in a 12" globe. I also decided to use the acrylic ones (used for street lamp posts) and not glass shades.
My other concern is ... can or should the opening to the globe be taped?
Hi Audrey - Thanks for visiting my site! I've been using these lights outside for years now and I've never had a problem with them. There's no need to tape the bottom of the globes if you're using outdoor rated lights. Depending on the size of your blog, you're right, the 100 light set would probably be too much, but those lights usually don't get very hot. Where you might run into trouble is if they heated up really fast and touched a glass globe when it was really cold. The instant hot on cold will make glass break. But since yours are plastic they shouldn't be a problem. When I have 100 lights, I just distribute them (by tying sections together with a rubber band) into different globes, set side by side. The lights that run between globes, I just cover with mulch so you don't see it. Again, if you're working with lights that are rated for outdoor use, this isn't a problem. Hope that helps/reassures. ~ karen!
Thank you for your quick response. As you explained, you answered my other question about being able to use indoor lights. Now I know. I have 3 different size globes, and I am really looking forward to this project.
I was also very impressed with your idea of the winter project with pines, spruce branches etc, and incorporating lights and globes....its definitely something to admire.
Thank You Karen.
Wow, that is really cute. I don't have to run to the store or a second hand store, my house is full of these things. And if I ever run out, I will just go our to the shop and dig into my husbands stash of outdated lighting. #shoemakersson and #theplightofanelectricianswife
Hello! I'm in Bunbury, Western Australia and have never heard of 'planters' until I slipped on the internet and landed on your site. I am hooked now! Your writing style is exquisite, tongue in cheek, and droll, and the projects you share are brilliant, absorbing, and engrossing. All in all a real treat !!! Thankyou so much !!! (And if you like I will teach my giant talking parrot to call you Princess Leia.)
Thanks Alicia! I seem to have a bit of an Australian following for some reason. I attribute it to Australians being smart. And having a similar mentality to Canadians. ~ karen!
Lol...and here it is, Feb of 2015 and I'm STILL checking out your site!!
And no, not even "ma'amsir"! Name's Rev. PEGGY L Pearl-Kirkby...so I'm a gal! Sorry it took so long to shake your hand, but I'm still here, preparing early for THIS year's holidays!! Have a wonderful spring/summer...I'll be back! :D
My first time seeing your post................you are a funny girl:} I found you on yahoo so I hope I can find your website. Please add me to your list of friends to share your ideas.
Hi Sandy! Thanks for the compliment! One question. Why are you looking at holiday planters in April, lol? If you want to subscribe to get my posts by email you can just click here. ~ karen!
You're Kewl! <3 a fellow COFFEE junkie!
Hi, beautiful. I would like to do it, if not in a nursing home now, using maybe a bit fatter and shorter birch, and some how making a light on the top of each, lookinglike a flame, fake with colored paper or real using an idea of yours. Bingo, candles in a Christmas candle holder. Your greeners and globe instantly made me think of birch candles. Merry Christmas, many months in advance.
I am Charity Director at St. Vincent de Paul in Great Falls, Montana. We have a thrift store that supports our charity services - Food Bank, Emergency Financial Assistance, Prison Ministry, and Angel Services (Free furniture, clothing, household for people in need).
Anyway, I am always looking for ways to repurpose/rejuvenate/ items and am hoping to make some space for a repurposing/repair room. I love this idea! We have done some pretty neat things, although I don't get enough time to do what I'd like to. We have auctioned some of the items at our annual fundraiser. Just recently a local artist refinished a couple of small tables and painted artwork on them. I especially like to save items that may have been heading for the trash. Last year we took an old tall wall cabinet that was going in the trash and fixed a few small things, refinished it and put a piece of granite on top - a beautiful TV stand with lots of storage! Like you had said in one post, recycle, reuse, etc., and our thriftstore is a perfect place for it!
So I do want to subscribe to your emails here at this address at home and as well at my work address of email@example.com.
Now for my original question! Do you do anything special with the tops of the birch branches?
Hi Jan! I don't do anything special with the tops of the branches, no. :) I also repurpose these shades into bird feeders and garden blogs. If you search "orbs" in the search bar under the picture of me holding the fish you'll find them. ~ karen!
I have some solar mini christmas lights I want to try so i can eliminate the wires
i'm just gonna print this out and shove it under anyones nose, who gives me the hairy eyeball when i'm scavanging for birch logs on my doggy walks. it's b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.
Ha, you had me hooked at power tools. We too have a cottage but we call it the cabin and it's on forty acres in NW Illinois. Just this morning I was cleaning up some tree branches that we had cut down yesterday. I was looking at the amazing lichen & moss and the brain started clicking. We have a flower show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in July. I'd love to enter the competition with a high heeled boot covered in lichens, pine cones, grape vine twirls, etc that I find while playing with my chainsaw. I'm going to try your preservation hints. Wish me luck!
I love your picture of the boxwood. When I saw it I decided that I love the red berries with the green. It may be time for me to consider getting planters and doing something like this.
hi Karen. Love your ideas. Love your humour more. Can I play in your corner of the playground? Kind of hard, mind, considering we are opposite sides of the pond. Look forward to reading more of your blogs. x AA
Welcome aboard Ann! ~ karen
I am happy to discover your blog. Just reading about your lights have inspired me.💛