Looking for a great holiday decoration? Get out of your back door



Your backyard has a plethora of treasures to make a wreath.

Johnson County Extension

The use of fresh greenery for holiday decoration has been a tradition since colonial times.

Southern churches began to decorate with elaborate garlands of holly, ivy, mountain laurel, and mistletoe. Herbs – like lavender, rosemary, bay leaf, and rose petals – added more scent to the display.

The idea of ​​decorating with fresh greenery has spread across the country. People used what was found in nature to create wreaths, vessels, and garlands. While they’re currently available for purchase, creating your own is easy with some new clippings of your landscape. It just takes a little planning and imagination.

The greenery picked from the garden is as fresh as it gets. First, determine which branches to cut and which to leave so as not to affect the health and shape of the plant. Then make the right cut while maintaining its natural look.

Before heading out into the yard, think about how you will use the greenery. This will determine the length and number of pieces you need. Cut off the selected limbs with hand pruners.

If you are holding the materials a day or two before decorating, place the cut stems in the water. Store them in a cool, shaded place outside to reduce drying out.

Conifers are the backbone of the decoration. Consider the shape and texture of pine, juniper, arborvitae, spruce, boxwood, holly, and magnolia. Don’t overlook deciduous twigs and plants with berries to add interest. Nandina, viburnum, cheekbones, and deciduous holly are great choices.

Other landscape plants to use would include acorns, bittersweet, hydrangea flowers, lotus pods, pine cones, pyracantha, and scent gum balls. Consider spray painting some for extra shine. Let your imagination be free.

Items purchased, whether fresh or man-made, can complement your design. But what a pleasure to exhibit his creations with plant materials from the landscape.

Once cut, keep your plant materials cool as long as possible. Here are some tips to extend the life of your creation.

Use clean, pointed cuts to remove the stems and keep them in the water until ready to use. Submerge greenery in water overnight, allowing branches and stems to absorb maximum moisture. Cut the stems and mash the ends of woody plants to allow better absorption if used in an arrangement with water.

Spray with an antiperspirant to seal in the moisture. Use with caution on juniper berries and blue spruce as this can damage the wax coating that gives these plants their distinctive color. If possible, keep greenery out of direct sunlight and away from hot drying vents.

Now that you have a stock of fresh plant materials to green your own wreaths, garlands, containers, and centerpieces, let your creative ideas and imagination run wild. Find great ideas and inspiration for holiday decorating in magazines, online or at local garden centers. You might not have the same plant material available, but visualize how your plant selection can mimic design with color, texture, and shape.

I don’t consider myself a cunning person, but every season I surprise myself with freshly made wreaths and festive containers to decorate the Patton House. You too will be amazed at what you can do to make the holidays that little bit more special.

Dennis Patton is a Horticultural Research and Extension Officer at Kansas State University. Have a question for him or for other academic extension experts? Email them to [email protected]

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