Decorating with Natural Objects

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natural wreath

Williamsburg Kevin, flickr 2005

The holidays are a busy time of year and it seems that each year we have more to do and less time to do it in. If the idea of decorating for the holidays has you frazzled, simplify your process and include natural objects that you already have around the home and garden. Look for foliage, berries, branches and fruit; all of which can be incorporated into wreaths, swags, arrangements and more.

Many evergreen plants offer foliage that is attractive this time of year. The glossy leaves of southern magnolia and many hollies is attractive and sturdy. Even the wispy foliage of conifers like pines or eastern red cedar are attractive. Some plants like nandina and hollies offer gorgeous foliage along with colorful berries. And don’t forget variegated or yellow plants like (aka ‘gold dust plant’) or gold mop shrub to add a shot of yellow.

Dormant plants can add interest too. You may find a shrub or tree that has twigs with an interesting shape or attractive bark. Many redbuds have an attractive zigzag pattern to the twigs. Small branches or twigs can form the backbone of a floral arrangement or you can just stick on some interesting branches in an attractive vase to add vertical interest to a side table. Dried grasses add a lot of drama too – look for the dried flowers of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) or maidengrass (Miscanthus spp).

You can gather foliage in to arrangements – just snip what looks good to you and arrange it in your hands until you like the look. Settle your arrangement into an appropriately sized vase. For arrangements with delicate foliage, add water to the vase.

Don’t overlook common fruit as decorative items. You can fill a bowl with nuts or sturdy fruit like apples, pears or even pomegranates. If you want to get a little more involved, spread evergreen foliage down the center of the table as a runner and top with the fruit or add the fruit to a wreath to grace your front door.

Check out this Clemson Extension publication, Holiday Decorating with Fresh Greenery, for more details and ideas.