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Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.

~ Emily Bronte ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

I am inspired! After seeing the beautiful Thanksgiving table decorations my sister in law created from garden greenery and reading Dava's article; I have taken the plunge and created my first christmas table arrangement. this year.. The mantle still could use a little attention but that will have to wait until after the chimney sweeping is done. Please remember to be safe this season. Replace batteries in your smoke detectors, extinguish candles when leaving the room and have your chimney serviced.

Merry Christmas, Belle

Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Holiday Decorating Tips

by Dava Stewart

During the years my children were small, I worked pretty hard to keep the excitement and build up to Christmas at a minimum. That sounds mean, but really, it was because I wanted them to enjoy the holidays and too much hype creates expectations that can never be met. I also wanted to maintain as much routine as possible because my kids were horribly cranky when their routines were disrupted. Who wants to spend a full month fussing at grumpy children?

So, we decorated a week or so before Christmas, and didn’t add anything too stressful to our schedules. You may call me Scrooge if you must; I will reply “Bah humbug!”

This year, though, my kids are grown. One has even moved out of the house. I feel at liberty to decorate early. And heavily. Being ever-frugal, I turned to my yard for decorating materials.

My first creative-decorating efforts were directed toward making wreaths. A few internet searches revealed that most people begin by purchasing a wire wreath frame and  floral wire. Since the nearest hobby supply store is a good 30 minute drive from my house, I decided to try making a frame instead. I had a roll of baling wire left over from some long forgotten project that would do.

You might be thinking this story is leading toward hilarity and wreath disaster. But, no. Making wreaths is quite easy, and fun, and it made my whole house smell really good.

I used privet to make the wreath frames, just because (unfortunately) there is a whole lot of it in my yard. Any flexible but sturdy plant material would work.

As for the greenery, the options are only limited by the number of evergreens growing near you. I used cedar, juniper, boxwood, holly, spruce, and fir. The cedar and juniper are prickly, but smell wonderful. Leather gloves are highly recommended! Cut pieces of whatever you are using in various lengths, from a few inches to 6-10 inches long.

If you would like to try making your own wreaths, here are the steps:

  • Cut some flexible, thin, branches from something like willow or privet and strip the leaves. You’ll be left with switches.
  • Bend the switches into circles. Use wire to hold the circle in place. You may need to twist several switches together to get a sturdy frame.
  • Begin attaching pieces of greenery to the circle using wire. When you wire a piece on, overlap the next piece to hide the wire.
  • When the whole circle is covered, you will probably have some bare-looking spots. Fill them in!

You can make the whole thing really thick and full (you will need a really sturdy frame, so use several switches), or you can leave it a little thinner. Add bows, baubles, berries, or whatever other decorations you want.

I haven’t done this yet, but it’s in the works! We have a mantle, so I want to make some garland to drape across it out of fresh greenery. It can’t be that much different than wreath-making. Instead of making a wreath-frame out of privet, I’m planning to use honeysuckle or morning glory vines. I’ll probably attach spruce and holly and put a bow in the center.

If the garland doesn’t work out, I’m just going to strategically place pieces of spruce and holly here and there amongst the decorations that usually go on the mantle. It’s hard to mess up when candles and glitter are involved.

Table Centerpieces
It’s easy to make really attractive centerpieces with fresh greenery. You can buy floral foam at any craft store to make it even easier. Soak the craft foam in water, stick it in a pretty container and jab some greenery in. Voilá! You have a gorgeous centerpiece.

You can also just twist some pieces of greenery around a clear candle holder for an elegant and simple centerpiece. In fact, just laying greenery and pine cones in a pattern along the middle of the table makes a beautiful decoration.

Walking around the yard, snippers in hand and choosing the perfect sprigs to clip was as much fun as putting the decorations together. But, if you don’t have evergreens in your yard, you can probably get some scraps from people selling Christmas trees for free.

Next, I’m going to make some popcorn and cranberry garlands, while listening to Willie Nelson’s Christmas. This Scrooge seems to have been transformed!


December in the Greenhouse growing for Spring 2013:

Campanula Mulberry Rose:
Coreopsis Mercury Rising:
Echinacea Cinnamon Cupcake :