Looking for a beautiful centerpiece for holiday entertaining? Look no further than your garden center.

Start by buying an ivy hanging basket. Select a plant that has long strands, preferably 15 inches long or longer. Add a wire circle that you’ve shaped from a metal clothes hanger. Then use a decorative pot as a slipcover for the grower’s pot. Here are the steps to a beautiful icy wreath topiary.

1. Remove hangers from the growing pot and slip the pot inside a slightly larger decorative pot. Choose one with a drainage hole if the ivy is to be displayed outdoors.

2. Take a wire clothes hanger and bend it into a circle. Insert the hook end into the center of the ivy pot. Select strands of ivy and wind them, one at a time, around the circle.

3. Continue winding strands of ivy up and around the circle until desired fullness is achieved. Let unused strands of ivy cascade all around the pot rim.


Pest free pots

Terracotta is so hospitable to plants that fungus and bacteria often move in as well and often don’t leave without a fight. Give your pots a good cleaning before stowing them away for the winter.

After taking out plants, remove any caked-on dirt by hand and hose. Then, soak pots overnight in a mixture of 1/2 cup bleach to every gallon of water. 

The next day, don a pair of rubber gloves (bleach may irritate your skin) to scrub the pots with a firm bristled brush or nylon scouring pad. Rinse with clean water. Let pots dry thoroughly before storing.

(Source: Martha Stewart Living)


Ice bowls

Need an ice bowl for an upcoming party? Try this tip.

Freeze the water into shape using two glass or stainless-steel bowls; one should fit inside the other with 1/2 to 1-inch of space between them. You can scatter flowers, fresh herbs or citrus slices in the larger bowl; place smaller bowl inside. Tape so tops of bowls are at the same height. Pour water between bowls to 1/2-inch from top; add more flowers and arrange with a skewer. Freeze overnight.

Let bowls stand at room temperature on a dish towel for 10 to 20 minutes, or until they separate easily. Do not run under water. Remove tape, lift out top bowl and invert ice bowl out of mold. Freeze until ready to use.

(Source: Martha Stewart Living)


Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.