Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
December, 2011
Regional Report

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Bring the garden indoors this Christmas with evergreens.

An Abundance of Evergreens

When I was a child we had very little money, but my memories of Christmas are of abundance. Not because my parents went into debt buying toys, but rather that our home was filled with the joy of the season, to say nothing of lots of cookies and free decorations from the garden. Because of the assortment of evergreen trees and shrubs in the yard, there were plenty of green boughs and red berries throughout the house. And, no, they weren't elaborate decorations, as my mother worked and didn't have time to spend untold hours on them. Their natural beauty, used simply, was quite enough.

So if you're wanting to have an old-fashioned Christmas, go out into your yard. If you don't have many evergreens or berried plants in your garden, think about which friends might be interested in sharing. Or make a party of it, inviting people to bring items from their gardens, then mix-and-match, making wreaths, arrangements, swags, or anything that strikes your imagination. Whatever your approach, the result will be deeply satisfying.

Plant Choices for Christmas Decorations
In choosing plant material for holiday decorations, there are the obvious choices and then the not-so-obvious ones. The needled trees, including pines, spruces, firs, and hemlocks, are the at the top of the list, of course. But what about those yews, false cypress, or arborvitae shrubs around the garden?

A Simple Evergreen Arrangement
Besides wreaths, swags, and garlands about the home, I like having arrangements on tables and sideboards during the holidays. Having them basically be a mass of evergreens means that they will be beautiful throughout the weeks ahead. Not only are they inexpensive to make, but they're easy as well.

For a simple, low centerpiece, I like to choose a small basket, maybe 6 inches or so across, then find a plastic container, such as for food storage, that fits inside. Then I cut a piece of floral foam that fits snugly inside that and soak it thoroughly. If you don't have floral foam, then crumple a piece of chicken wire to fit into the container filled with water. Cut various kinds of evergreens into 6- to 8-inch lengths, using tip pieces only and removing the lower few inches of needles or leaves. Now, just start inserting them all over the basket until it is completely filled. Add a few other elements, such as pine cones or a small dried pomegranate with floral wire or picks attached. And you're done! If you want to gild the lily, as it were, add a few fresh flowers, changing them out as they fade.

However you decide to use natural greenery and other items from your garden in Christmas decorations, the pleasure of having some of your garden indoors with you will add to the blessings of the holiday.

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