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Sprucing up the holidays

My Secret Garden owner offers tips on creating decorative greenery in the winter

Published: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 12:21 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 10:59 p.m. CST
(By Nicole Weskerna – nweskerna@shawmedia.com)
Debbie Notaro, the owner of My Secret Garden, demonstrates how to make decorative holiday greenery during a workshop at Wasco Nursery and Garden Center in St. Charles on Saturday.

ST. CHARLES – A Debbie Notaro added layers of greenery to a fiberglass pot on Saturday, she told a crowd of about 50 people that making decorative holiday planters should be fun, playful, organic and traditional.

Notaro, owner of My Secret Garden, offered tips on using fresh greenery, such as spruce tops, noble fir boughs and gold lace juniper, during the holiday season at a seminar held at Wasco Nursery and Garden Center in St. Charles. She showed the versatility of filling a planter with various plants to decorate a home or business, and she said such planters could last as long as March.

"I like to put things in that are not necessarily Christmas," she said. "As winter goes on, you can change it up."

After laying many branches of evergreens and other plants into a large container, she demonstrated how to change the look throughout the season. Some of the elements she added included bows, pine cones, colored twine shaped into a ball, large decorative candy canes, artificial fruits, birch logs and hearts made of wire.

"You can keep changing the design for very little money," she said.

Notaro advised workshop attendees to weigh down light containers using bricks so they wouldn't blow over. She said she also waters the planter once the decorations are complete, as the water tends to freeze in the winter and helps keep the greens from fading into a rusty color. She said to also avoid brushing off any snow that might accumulate, as that helps keep the container moist.

Kim Schroeder, a buyer and sales representative for Wasco Nursery and Garden Center, said workshops such as Saturday's are held almost every month. She said Notaro's focus on Saturday was using all live materials to spruce up various items many people have around their homes, such as outdoor benches, bird houses, bird feeders, bird baths and mailboxes.

She said other workshops throughout the year include working with native plants and perennials, and pruning techniques.

She noted that the nursery is open all year round, except for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

"If you want help designing installations for the spring, the best thing is to come early," she said.

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