Natural arrangements made from interesting dried flowers, seed pods, berries, and foliage harvested from your garden can bring beauty to your home, both inside and out.
You don’t have to be a professional flower arranger to create beautiful holiday and winter displays, just a creative imagination. Take your shears on a stroll through your winter garden and start clipping and collecting.
Many evergreens can be safely thinned and "plucked" at this time of the year. There are so many different colors and textures of greens that can be used to create a wonderful foundation for a variety of Christmas and holiday arrangements from centerpieces to swags and wreaths to beautiful outdoor displays. Each year, Andre cuts boughs of various firs, pines, cypress, cedar, spruce, boxwood, and magnolia so that he has a wide variety of colorful greens to work with when decorating for Christmas. Fall is a great time to plant some of these evergreen trees and shrubs in your own gardens so you will have attractive plants in the landscape year around and a bonus of some beautiful greens to cut at holiday time!
View Mark Viette's video tip on cutting and using fresh greens in holiday decorating.
The flowers of many perennials and shrubs dry naturally right on the plant and can be cut and used in beautiful, long-lasting arrangements allowing you to enjoy your garden’s beauty well into winter. Hydrangea, yarrow, sedums, and ornamental grasses are good examples.
In addition to flowers, look for other interesting colors, shapes, and textures in and around your landscape. Dried seed pods from oriental poppies, Siberian iris, peonies, and yucca make wonderful additions to a fall and winter display. Even daylily seed pods or their dried flower scapes are neat! Pine cones are great additions to holiday arrangements and they can be easily collected from under trees in the woods or in your yard.
View Mark's video tip on decorating with some unusual pine cones.
Dried seed pods, leaves, and dried flowers can even be spray painted gold or silver before using in holiday arrangements. Andre spray painted some of his left over fall pumpkins and gourds with shiny gold paint and added them to one of his outdoor Christmas displays. Wow what a neat idea! They really brightened up the display!
View Mark's video tip on creating a beautiful gold mantle display for the Christmas holidays.
Brightly colored autumn leaves, along with pine cones and gourds can be sprinkled around the base of your arrangements for an added touch of whimsy!
View Mark's video tip on decorating with dried seed pods and berries, and creating holiday decorating themes.
Berried deciduous shrubs like Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and Beautyberry (Callicarpa) have branches covered with long-lasting colorful berries that are excellent in your seasonal arrangements. Euomymus and Nandina also have interesting bright colored berries that can be used for a splash of color in an indoor or outdoor arrangement.
Nestle your garden gleanings into attractive baskets, vases, buckets, and barrels. There is no limit to what you can do with a good imagination and some garden leftovers!
For many families, the selection of a Christmas tree is a “deep-rooted” Christmas tradition that often marks the beginning of the holiday season. At our house, searching for the perfect tree is quite an event and every year we reminisce over our previous tree hunting adventures! It is a wonderful family tradition!
There are many different species of trees that are commonly used for Christmas trees. My personal favorites are the soft-needled firs. These trees are long-lasting with great needle retention and add a wonderful fragrance to your home for the holidays! They have strong branches and, as long as they haven’t been over-sheared, are open enough to hang lots of ornaments. The pines, especially White pine and Scotch pine, are also very popular. These are long-lasting but are sometimes hard to decorate because they tend to be very full - especially if they’ve been over-sheared. Spruce trees make lovely Christmas trees, particularly the Blue spruce, if you can get past the very prickly needles! André picks a beautiful Blue spruce for his snow tree which he flocks and decorates with colorful balls and other ornaments.
More information on the characteristics of some common Christmas tree types.
There are many places you can get trees, from retail lots to choose-and-cut farms. When you go to a farm and cut your own, you know it's fresh and it’s fun to wander through the growing trees to find the most perfect one! If you choose a cut tree from a retail lot, make sure it is fresh. The tree should have a healthy green color and the needles should be flexible and not come off when you stroke a branch. A good way to check for freshness is to lift a cut tree off the ground a few inches and then let it drop on it’s cut end. A few inner needles might fall but green outer needles should not drop off the tree.
Once you get home with your tree, make a fresh cut about an inch above the original cut. Place your tree in the stand and keep the reservoir full of water at all times! It will take up a lot of water so be sure to check it several times a day. Always keep your tree away from heat sources. If you aren’t putting your tree up right away, re-cut the end, put it in a bucket of water, and keep it in a cool, shaded place until you are ready to bring it inside. Try Andre’s special Christmas tree stand formula and his Christmas tree and greens spray to help fireproof your tree and greens and keep them fresh.
Bonide Wilt Stop can also be used to keep your tree and greens fresh over the holidays.
Watch Mark's video tips on the best way to put lights and ornaments on the tree to get a beautiful effect.