At Phoenix Farm the decorations are kept as natural as possible. For a festive outside arrangement by the front door I gather softwood boughs of white pine, hemlock and sometimes balsam. Then I cut branches about 2 feet long from the staghorn sumac with large bunches of red berries. For a final touch I trim some 2-3 foot lengths of red osier dogwood with bright red bark.
A large planter full of dirt stays by my door year round. In season it contains annual flowers, mums or the tree branch decor of winter. The ends of the softwood boughs, sumac, and dogwood are pushed down into the dirt to form a stable design that withstands the weather. This looks very pretty frosted with a couple inches of snow.