Use your imagination and landscape to decorate for the holidays


This past week I spent time preparing for the Master Gardener Volunteers of Clark County to cut greens from my landscape to be used for holiday swags. Each year these volunteers make more than 125 swags for patients at the Springfield Regional Cancer Center as a community service project.

Fortunately, many years ago I planted spruce and pine seedlings to be used eventually as a windbreak. As with so many things in the garden, these trees got away from me and grew so well that many of them were too close together.

So, we are thinning the trees and using the greens for the swags. I am really thankful for this recent nice weather. The volunteers are usually cutting greens in the worst-possible cold, wet weather.

Cutting greens from the landscape is a great way to decorate for the holidays. When I refer to greens, I am talking mostly about evergreen plants that make great indoor and outdoor decorations.

There are also deciduous (lose their leaves) plants that make good decorations as well. These include willow branches from the corkscrew willow or the wavy branches of Harry Lauder’s walkingstick as well as the colorful red, yellow and gold branches from the variegated dogwood shrubs.

I also like to use Russian sage, a perennial, in some of my decorations. The silver stems still look great and will last through the holidays.

Take a look at your landscape and try it. Be creative. If something doesn’t work you can throw it in the compost pile.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using fresh greens and landscape cuttings for decorations.

Since they are live plants, they may not last a long time indoors, though some last longer than others.

For instance, juniper and pine hold up better than Norway and blue spruce. Evergreens like pine, spruce, and juniper hold up longer than broadleaf evergreens such boxwood and holly.

Stems of the dogwood shrubs hold up all season. Deciduous holly with it’s incredible red berries will hold up through the holidays.

When cutting pines, keep in mind that the branches only have buds on the ends and not all up and down the stem. This is important!

When you remove the ends of the branches, with the buds, there will be no more growth on that stem. Be selective and remove pine branches from places that won’t be so obvious.

You can always prune branches of trees and shrubs and spray paint them gold and silver.

I collected the fruits of osage-orange trees (hedge apples) and spray painted them silver and gold for a nice outdoor decoration. These eventually rot and should not be used indoors, but will last through the holiday outside.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

5 signs your relationship is hurting your mental health
5 signs your relationship is hurting your mental health

Everyone in a relationship knows how easy it is to accuse a partner of something they didn't do. It's their fault, you tell them, whether the spat is about towels on the bathroom floor, an angry mother-in-law or a missed restaurant reservation. Sometimes you know you're wrong the second these words leave your mouth; other times you recognize your mistake...
How to know if your child is overweight
How to know if your child is overweight

It's easy to fall in love with your child's chubby cheeks and pudgy legs. But by the age of two, if your toddler is heavier than the other children of the same age, it's possible that he or she may be overweight.  How can you tell the difference between normal baby fat and an actual weight problem? Here's the skinny on excessive weight and obesity...
What is autism? Things to know about the disorder
What is autism? Things to know about the disorder

Autism is a disorder that has been around since the 1940s, but still has an air of mystery around it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 59 children in the United States has autism. But with a list of different symptoms and causes, it can be hard to know what you should look for and how to tell if your child might...
IHOP offering 60 cent pancakes TODAY for 60th anniversary
IHOP offering 60 cent pancakes TODAY for 60th anniversary

After nearly a month of calling itself the "International House of Burgers," IHOP is going back to what made it famous — pancakes. The diner chain announced its second "name change" in as many months last week, tweeting that it would "never turn its back on pancakes (except for that time we faked it to promote our new...
Grandma was right: Why it's good for your health to be outdoors
Grandma was right: Why it's good for your health to be outdoors

Sure, there are treadmills at climate-controlled gyms and Nintendo's Wii is still going strong with indoor workouts like Zumba Fitness 2. And yet, old-fashioned advice to "go outside and play" is still the best for your health, according to researchers the world over. In one study published by the NCBI, researchers...
More Stories