Why the “thrillers, spillers, and fillers” idea works for winter containers

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Pine, spruce, and cedar boughs have suddenly appeared in garden centres and at my local grocery store. Each year, I like to figure out a new theme for my holiday urn. I started looking at some photos of the containers I’ve made over the past few years and I came to the realization that I apply similar principles to my winter urns as I do to my spring, summer, and fall creations: thrillers, spillers, and fillers.

Basically, that whole idea works even though you’re not dealing with plants, but rather branches and sticks and accessories.

A “thriller” would be that main focal point: perhaps some berries, birch boughs, or a fun accessory. For example, I’ve used spray-painted silver stars made out of twigs and a mini birdhouse.

Your “spillers” are those lovely pine, cedar, or spruce boughs that spill over the side of your container.

“Fillers” can be anything from magnolia leaves to colourful sticks, like dogwood, as well as euonymus, pinecones, etc. They provide that lush, full look to your container.

Here are a few examples to illustrate my points and hopefully inspire you to create your own container!

winter container

I always consider my “thriller” to be the focal point. Last year I used a mini birdhouse framed by cedar boughs, birch branches, and euonymus.

winter container

The “spillers” in this winter container are all those lovely branches that radiate out and over the urn!

winter containers

Here, I’ve used birch boughs and red sticks as my “fillers,” but they also contribute to that focal point created by the stars and pine cones.

winter containers

And here is one more for good measure that illustrates the whole concept!

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2 Responses to Why the “thrillers, spillers, and fillers” idea works for winter containers

  1. I love these! Such great ideas, thank you for the inspiration and how to tips! I have my two big urns still in their Autumn arrangements but have been wondering if I should change them for Christmas.

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Laurin, I’m not sure where you live, but where I am (southern Ontario), the plants in your fall container would freeze! If you’re going to make a winter container, anything that’s perennial, I would tuck into the garden and then you can work on adding boughs and branches!

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