Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
December, 2010
Regional Report

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Combining wispy Boston fern with delicate pink poinsettias brings a fresh look to a traditional holiday display.

What's YOUR Holiday Scene?

Outside the greenhouse, families sipped hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows and sized up Christmas trees. Blue spruce, Douglas fir, or the white pine? A brief flurry of snow enhanced the magic.

Inside, we shopped among the customary red poinsettias, fragrant paperwhites, and evergreen swags. And we meandered through California-inspired vignettes of holiday decoration at the Meadowbrook Farm open house.

Lush, cascading, pink, Dragon Wing begonias hung from the rafters. Huge pots of the spectacular, large- bract poinsettia 'Maren Pink' sat at eye level. Clustered on the floor, elegant mounds of the rosy pink, ruffled, camellia-like flowers of poinsettia 'Carousel' framed the picture.

"Think outside the box" was the holiday theme. Honor the traditional, but experiment with fresh ideas. Create holiday cheer with a dash of the old, a splash of the new, and favorites from your plant collection.

Even those of us on a tight budget can create a beautiful holiday scene, encouraged David Fierabend and his Groundswell Design Group. "Use traditional material in nontraditional ways," he advised. "Mix and match plants and materials we don't readily associate with the holiday season.

"Create little stories or vignettes," added Fierabend, who with his team designed this open house display. Cluster complementary and contrasting colors-- think bright pink and chartreuse-- and textures. Try wispy Boston fern with the pink-on-pink and red poinsettia 'Ice Punch,' dreamy light pink 'Monet Twilight,' or pink and white 'Marble.'

From Your Garden and In Your Home
"Not everyone can come in here, buy, and completely redecorate their house for the holiday season," noted Matthew Rodriguez, also of Groundswell. "We can still have the classic red bow on the wreath AND be inspired to use 'green' materials. Search your garden for a flash of red holly (Ilex) berries, instead of or to complement the red bow. If you already have a fern, include it in your decorating for the holiday season as well."

Take something in your home and add something sparkling or holiday-like, Rodriguez suggested. "For example, decorate a Ficus (fig tree) you've had for years. Wrap burlap around the base, tie with holiday raffia and string some twinkling lights. Wrap a red bow around a decorative piece of pine. These are combinations you wouldn't typically think of."

Rodriguez guided me to a table of succulents and cacti. Shallow clay bowls were brimming with squat plants holding plump green or purple or blue leaves. In several sat bright, 4-inch, red mushrooms brushed with gold-- mercury glass mushrooms. My eyes skimmed for the fairies and gnomes. Nowhere in sight. Maybe they were hiding from the shoppers. In the background, 'Jingle Bell' poinsettias, red with pink speckles, carried the glittery theme.

This is a California holiday look, Rodriguez said. Succulents, cacti, begonias, and other tropical plants are the West Coast's evergreens. Combine the best of East Coast and West Coast design. Use your imagination and what's on hand in your home and garden. Voila! You've created your own holiday story.

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