A Winter Holiday Tradition: decorating with fresh greenery

Fresh greeneryIt is hard to believe, but the Holidays are fast approaching. Now that the colorful annuals in my containers have given up, and the glorious golden leaves on my Linden tree have fallen, I miss seeing color around me. The coming of winter solstice means the days are getting shorter and shorter. Let’s face it, it’s getting dark.

For me, it is a time to add a bit of red and green and perhaps some sparkle to my home. I love to decorate with fresh greenery. Fresh cut boughs and garlands add a welcoming scent and a natural look to my front entrance. I’d like to share some tips and ideas so you too can start a new tradition of decorating with greenery for the winter holidays.

Branches of evergreens and berry sprays

Evergreens bring dramatic elegance to containers both inside and out. For interesting texture, I like to use conifers like cedar and pine or choose holly branches. Sometimes I combine aromatic evergreens such as eucalyptus, balsam and juniper to maximize fragrance. To arrange these, simply insert cut branches and berried stems into a pot filled with top soil. Use top soil, not potting soil, because it is heavier and much better at holding evergreen stems upright. Add a bow and a sprig of winterberries to make it colorful. Display it outside, but not in direct sun. Indoors- keep it away from any heat source.

Our winters tend to be intensely dry so the most important thing to remember is to keep greenery moist. Condition the cuttings by soaking them in warm water for a day or so before arranging them. Dry, and spray anti-desiccant (sold at nurseries) to help retain moisture by sealing the pores on leaves and needles. Daily misting with water also makes a big difference in how long they will stay green.

Arrangements of evergreen tips, pine cones and aspen logs.

My gardens are full of pine cones at this time of year. I like to add them to my empty flower pots and also use some as mulch under my shrubs and trees. My hanging baskets look splendid with cut boughs of blue spruce and Austrian pine and painted branches I’ve trimmed from my trees. String lights woven through the branches illuminate the arrangements. Even when they get snowed on these arrangements provide winter interest as they glisten in the sun.

Make it sparkle

Did you cut down an old Aspen tree this year? Why not cut the trucks or branches to varying lengths and display their pretty white bark in your containers? Want to add some bling? Dip the ends in glittery gold or silver paint. Drill out holes deep enough to hold votive candles and display them on a mirror. One tip- use LED votive candles so you can safely add greenery to your tabletop decoration.

So brighten your holidays with festive greenery this year. As you welcome your family, friends and neighbors to your home, I hope you’ll raise a glass of eggnog (or your beverage of choice) feeling good about reusing and repurposing the natural elements from your garden to illuminate your surroundings. Cheers!

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Out of the Deep Freeze: a Wildlife Playground

Colorado temperatures fluctuate wildly.  Here in Arvada, we have been in sub-zero temps for several days. Finally today we will see double digit numbers on the thermometer.  Climbing into the above freezing territory feels like a heat wave with the sunshine on the snow-covered ground. I’m not the only one feeling cheerful about it. The wild critters have come out to celebrate the thaw and they are absolutely blissful about it!

I watch snow dropping off the evergreen boughs as playful brown squirrels chase each other around. With fast twitching tails they tease the birds who come to the feeders for their share of the seeds.  Hungry rabbits have been munching on my roses and dormant shrubs. It is time to capture and relocate those bunnies if I want to save my garden from their plunder.

Of course the critters have heard me come outside to take their pictures. Hiding now, all I get to show as evidence are their tracks.