Flower Solutions for a Shady Front Entry–Make It

Current floral arrangements at my front door

Current floral arrangements at my front door: foliage is 3-4 weeks old, flowers replaced last week

What does your main entry say about you?  The front door is the first impression when guests arrive. Whether close enough to the street to play into “curb appeal” or privately situated behind a hedge or gate, it matters that your home is welcoming.  A little “vignette” next to the front door is cheerful and can celebrate the season.

A homey and unique entry makes you feel good when you come home at the end of a work day and beckons you to hang out on a Sunday morning to read the paper. Part of what makes an entry cozy is plants, flowers and more plants.

We are blessed with a wrap-around, covered deck at our home.  The downside is that the full shade of the patio is a lousy exposure for plants.  Were we in a warmer clime, houseplants could fit the bill to provide the leafy, lush effect I’d like.  Alas tropical plants can tolerate only a very short stay outdoors here in Western Washington.  And rotating potted flowers quickly gets expensive.  Experience has taught me to use our uniformly mild weather as an advantage.

golden sneezeweed, variegated rhododendron foliage and blue sea holly lasted 3 weeks

With some trial and error I found the solution to the problem of my shaded entry is homemade bouquets.  But floral arrangements are short lived, right?  In actuality, depending on what plants you use and the time of the year, cut flowers and foliage in full shade can last weeks to months–just as long or longer than that pricey florist cyclamen.

Whenever I prune the garden, I take the spoils up on the deck and arrange bouquets that substitute for potted plants.  After doing this for many years, I have learned which plants last in water and which do not.  I have my favorite plant and flower combinations and a variety of vases and cache pots collected from vintage and thrift stores.  The cache pots lack drainage holes and therefore make delightful, colorful containers in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Pliable plastic containers are a good bet for winter as they stand up to freeze-thaw.

In the winter a bundle of evergreen branches can look good for months–dress it up with berries, lichen, twigs or cones and it’s a holiday scene.  Switch out branches as they fade and add flowers as they pop up in the garden for an easy, ever changing rotation.  In mid-summer, I have seen the exotic, large leaves of Ligularia and various other perennials last for a month in a tall vase when mindful of changing out the water a few times.  A grouping of vases and pots creates a verdant look on the table saddled up to the front door.

frog on vase blog

Resident frog on the vase

The wall pocket under the porch light is a favored location for a garden bouquet. In fact, for two seasons now, a frog has hung out in the arrangement as it is good cover, a fine source of water and being near the light, a convenient hideout for ambushing insects.  Spotting a glimpse of it or hearing its croak is a source of joy.

On a Sunday morning, I like nothing better than to peruse the garden with a cup of coffee and pruners, selecting flowers, twigs or seed heads to create a new bouquet to spruce up the front porch.  Switching out table cloths and matching vases with the colors and patterns is part of the process.  Curiosities found in the garden are staged there–feathers, rocks, moss. The creative process is satisfying and it’s so fun to come home to.  Who needs a welcome mat?©Colleen Miko 2014

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is a freelance garden writer and speaker who regularly writes "The Perennial Bookworm" where she reviews garden and natural science books, as well as a regular contributor to "WestSound Home & Garden Magazine" on a variety of horticulture topics.
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