Deck the halls...naturally!

By Lynette Walther | Dec 12, 2019
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther Don’t forget our feathered friends this holiday season. Pack pinecones with a mixture of peanut butter and birdseed and string where they can reach them. Don’t be surprised if the squirrels take advantage of your holiday offering.

Christmas is less than a couple weeks away, and whether you are on a budget or not, holiday decorations don’t have to cost a fortune when you decorate naturally. Getting into the holiday spirit is easy when you look to nature.

Keep in mid that if you don’t have ready access to greenery on your own property, gathering it requires permission from the landowner. But a little goes a long way, and evergreen foliage can even be recycled after the holidays to mulch perennials or young shrubs for winter protection.

Light up an urn

Fill an urn with pine, spruce, fir, cedar and holly and wind a string of outdoor lights through. Try a pair to flank an entry door for a holiday welcome. Add color with a red bow, or go slightly un-traditional with silver or gold accents.

Holiday wreath

Use a wreath form or re-purpose a wire coat hanger to tie on small bundles of greenery. Add pine or fir cones and holly berries for accent. Dried flowers and seed pods are also nice enhancements. Or go simple with a wreath fashioned of birch tips. Remember to add a generous bow for good measure, and there are more places to hang a wreath thaa door. Try a single wreath or a series of small wreaths suspended from an opulent length of ribbon and hung in windows.

Make a swag

Don’t have the time or desire to fashion a wreath? Make a swag instead! Collect a variety of greenery or cones. Simply tie them together and add a bow or a bunch of colorful berries. If you have a decorative shovel, a piece of driftwood for example or other item that would make a good starting point, use that to attach your swag ingredients.

Fresh garland

More evergreen foliage can be fashioned into a garland to drape a doorway, windows, a porch, a stair rail or mantel for fragrance and holiday sparkle when you add a string of tiny white or multi-colored lights to the garland. Accent with red berries, pine or fir cones, dried flowers or seed pods, feathers, whatever your imagination dictates.

Nature’s wrapping paper

Start with a can of spray paint (try gold or silver as well as red or green), a roll of kraft paper or plain unprinted newsprint. Select a variety of natural items, fern leaves, cedar, pine or fir tips, etc. Position greenery on paper and lightly spray your natural “stencils,” moving them around to create a pleasing pattern. A little greenery tucked into the ribbon bow adds an extra thoughtful touch.

Grow an amaryllis

Sometimes reaching as large as eight inches across, amaryllis blooms are truly a treat—so it’s lucky that they are fairly easy to grow. Bulbs can be mail ordered or purchased in handy kits in stores this time of year.

Fresh centerpiece and table toppers

Include the holiday table with an arrangement you fashion from conifer cones, holly berries and greenery. Add a string of battery-powered mini-lights, glass or other tree ornaments to suit the mood. Or pull out those pedestal dishes to stack and create a Christmas “tree” of greenery.

Fill a windowbox

Long after those geraniums and annuals in the windowbox have been cleared out, now is the time for them to shine again. Gather pine or fir cones, and fill those boxes brimming (If soil has been removed, fill lower two/thirds of box with something light like crushed paper or empty plastic bottles) and add sprigs of fir tips or pine. Strings of lights, a colorful bow or glass Christmas balls add sparkle and contrast.

Grapevine tree

Wild grapevines can do more than form wreath bases. Create a series of consecutively smaller wreaths to stack or wind vines into a cone shape which can be decorated with natural accents to form a “tree.” Flexible grapevines can also be used to create large spheres to add lights to and hang from tree branches or to create stars lit with strings of lights.

Don’t forget the birds

We collect clean pine and fir cones whenever we see them to save and use for holiday decorations. Cones make great little bird “feeders” when packed with a suet/peanut butter mixture and rolled in birdseed. Try stringing a line of these decorative cones to give our feathered friends a Christmas treat.

Lynette L. Walther is the 2019 GardenComm Gold Award winner for writing, and is a four-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Award of Achievement and the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. Her gardens are in Camden.

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