One of my favorite traditions for holiday decorating is to fill the house with fresh smelling boughs, garlands and wreaths. Since fall is a good time to prune evergreens, I combine my necessary outdoor task with my desire for indoor greenery. After pruning trees such as incense cedar, spruce, juniper or pine, I cut the materials to the right lengths for my wreaths, garlands or centerpieces.
I certainly could buy materials to make wreaths, but I prefer to use things I already have. For example, to make a framework for a wreath, I cut long lengths of grape vines and wind them together into a loose wreath frame securing it together with wire. I then place the greens into the frame and secure them with florist or small gauge wire. I stagger the cedar and pine with blue spruce to create an interesting contrast of color and texture. Holly, pyracantha, mountain ash or heavenly bamboo berries can be used for bursts of red and orange color. Burgundy barberry branches or redtwig dogwood can complement the wreath’s design. Pine or spruce cones are perfect accent materials. Rabbitbrush or sagebrush flowers can add the appearance of baby’s breath. Dried yarrow, sedum or hydrangea flower heads add beauty. Colorful ribbons tied into beautiful bows finish the wreath off.
Making garlands is a little like laying roof tiles in that the pieces overlap. Wire pieces together and then cover the wired areas with an overlap of more greenery. Repeat this layering step until you have the length you want. The design concepts are similar to those used in making wreaths except you are working in a straight line. Add colorful accent bits, cones or even twigs. Winding ribbon throughout the garland is a nice touch.
As you get ready for your decorating project, here are a few reminders about proper pruning of evergreens. Cut at nodes (joints) of the stems and branches. With junipers, hide the cuts under remaining greenery. Raw stubs are never attractive. With trees, never flush cut right up against the trunk because this creates wounds that don’t callus over completely. Look for the branch collar, a slight bulge at the base of the branch similar to the bulge of your lowest thumb knuckle. Cut to the outside of the branch collar. Don’t paint cuts.
Let your outdoor landscape chores help you decorate your home with holiday spirit.
Sidebar: Holiday Centerpieces
An important part of any holiday is the food festivities with family and friends. A lovely centerpiece adds flair to a beautifully set table. For low centerpieces, put florist foam into a short waterproof container. Secure the foam in the container with strips of florist tape across the foam prior to wetting it. Leave one inch to two inches of foam above the lip of the container. Put water in the container and let the foam soak it up. Repeat the soaking process until the foam no longer absorbs water and the container remains full of water. Put candleholders into the foam. You can get these at any craft, florist or floral supply store. Then you are ready to push the stems of the greens into the foam. Be sure to hide the foam and the container with the greenery. Fresh evergreens will make the house smell wonderful.
For a refined look purchase flowers that coordinate with your overall holiday colors or add stems of berries, branches, whatever you have in your yard. For tall arrangements, the stems can go directly into a vase of water without foam, although you may want to weight the vase with marbles or stones to prevent the arrangement from tipping over. Remove all needles or leaves from all portions of the stems that are in the foam or submerged in water.