Holiday Garden Decorating
Forum Topic of the Week 11/26/04
Posted: Nov-26-2004 at 11:16am
How do you decorate your garden for Christmas?
Instead of a normal TOTW we decided to do a decorating the garden theme (anything outside) discussion. What traditional decorating do you do in the garden or do you have something new you are trying this year? Alternatively, even what you would like to do but have not implemented yet. Perhaps you bring something from the garden inside your home to decorate also?
Traditionally we buy a live evergreen tree that is ball and burlapped and set it into a large pot on the front porch. The height counting the pot is usually about 4-5 feet tall. We decorate the tree with lights and sometimes with glass ornaments, tied on tight with green twisting ties for the inevitable windstorm. After Christmas it is planted in the garden to be harvested in a few years as a cut tree for the house. For the last 4 years, we have done this after buying our first live tree seven years ago. I am amazed how beautiful our homegrown trees are.
I buy a few pots of Paper-whites and set them in terra cotta pots, then place them on top of a rusty milk can with a glazed drip tray turned upside down on top of the milk can, creating a tabletop.
I take icicle lights and hang them on our apple trees. The “icicles” hang down from the lower branches and swing and sway in the breeze. I use white and blue icicle lights for this affect.
This year I am using rope lights that I will swag on stakes to define the two paths to the front door. On the gate arbor that is the entrance to the front garden, grape lights adorn it. Honeysuckle smothers the top of the mailbox, which I cover the whole arbor and plants in lights.
I gather a lot of material from the garden and make wreaths and swags for the front door and the arbor gate. Bainbridge Garden Nursery lets you use their wreath making machines, free. I love taking trimmings from my garden and turning them into expensive looking wreaths. I use everything from Nandina and Leucothe branches to red twigs from the dogwood shrubs weaved in with the evergreen trimmings from the trees.
I love using my dried Hydrangea blossoms in my Christmas decorating indoors. I turn a wine glass upside down and place a pillar candle on top of the bottom of the glass. Then surround the glass with dried blossoms. Always be sure to keep any part of the candle away from the blossoms. The glass keeps it up away from the flowers, and it looks fantabulous! I place a few fruits around it such as the pomegranates and tie the stem of the glass with a beautiful wired ribbon that picks up either the color of the fruit or blossoms. I let the tail of the bow weave around the blossoms and fruit. This arrangement can be a beautiful centerpiece for the Christmas table or placed on a side table.
Posted: Nov-26-2004 at 11:32am
Wow, Debbie, great ideas! I am impressed!
I've brought trimmings from plants into the house to augment cut flowers (from the store) or to simply stand alone. Branches from my coral bark maple and red-twig dogwoods look great with trimmings from my variegated Euonymus - very holiday cheery in reds, golds and greens. This year I may stick extra trimmings into various empty containers and place these near my front door.
I prefer the garden draped in white lights instead of multi-colored ones (although blue icicle lights off tree branches sounds lovely, Debbie). This is an ongoing arguement between hubby and me, btw, but now that we've begun to use icicle lights outside, I'm winning. But don't feel too sorry for him! He gets to put multi-colored lights on the tree inside.
In December's issue of Sunset magazine, there is an article about a garden in Southern California that is trimmed in white and silver decorations to simulate a white winter. It is amazing and very magical looking.
Posted: Nov-26-2004 at 11:52am
Wow! That all sounds so magical. Wish I had the time to do even a quarter of all that. With working all day and dark by the time I get home, there isn't time to do more than decorate the tree and mantle with holly, cedar, fir boughs, nandina and some handmade glass ornaments. I hope to get the outdoor window boxes fixed up with holly, cedar and hydrangea blossoms. We'll see how it goes. Jeanne
Posted: Nov-26-2004 at 3:47pm
I don't do much decorating, either. I buy a plain evergreen wreath, and cut holly to wire into it, and add a big bow. That's about the extent of it. You guys are so creative!
Posted: Nov-26-2004 at 6:41pm
Thanks for the ideas.
When I found a challenge to drape light strings on our Jap. snowbell, I looked over at the 4 Italian cypress with an idea:
I wrapped all 4 of them from top to bottom having discovered that light strings will do a good job of preventing twigs from sticking out - at least to January.
Posted: Nov-28-2004 at 9:43pm
Lisa, I used to have everything in white but the past few years color has been creeping in. Like the grapes are colored. Last year the tree on the deck was shades of purple and blue but that is about as multi-colored as I go, at least for now. We shall see in the future though!
I also like to bring in cuttings of branches and evergreens to augment cut flowers. I bet that silver and white is very beautiful.
Jeanne, I love doing windowboxes. That you only have to poke your greens in to the potting soil means you can do all kinds of things you normally wouldn't do.
MDVaden, Great idea, one way to keep those boughs from breaking!
Any other decorating ideas?
Posted: Nov-29-2004 at 11:17am
The two extended family gifts I buy are for my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. We usually do baskets of home-made goodies. What does this have to do with decorating you ask? Well this year I bought two Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' and put them each in a red ceramic pot from Half Price Pots. They are for gifts but I'm enjoying them on my front porch between now and Christmas! Boy are they pretty! I may have to get one more...
Posted: Nov-29-2004 at 1:33pm
Purple and Blue, Debbie? That sounds beautiful. Is it hard to find purple lights? Can't wait to see the pics.
Theresa, that Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' is a beauty. What a great gift idea. Out of all 25+ camellias on my property, I have no pure red ones. I do have a pink one that looks like 'Yuletide'. Single flower with bright yellow stamens but doesn't flower until February. I agree, you should get yourself one.
Posted: Nov-30-2004 at 7:51pm
Great idea, then will you wrap them in twine or just leave the lights up?
We leave lights up into part of January because we like the lights sparkling in the winter months. Helps keep the depressing dark away.
Posted: Nov-30-2004 at 7:53pm
Theresa, that Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' is a beauty.
They are globe lights, Jeanne and last year was the first year I found them. Purple seems to be the color this year! YEAH! I love purple so I am trying to get more color in with purple.
My Camellia 'Yuletide' has been in my garden for seven years and it still hasn't flowered. Guess its time to shovel prune it?
Debbie, when you plant your trees how long does it take before you harves it and which one do you use? How much do you normally pay for a tree?
Posted: Dec-02-2004 at 11:31pm
Three to four years is how long seems to be the average, but I only started doing this seven years ago and this year will be our third tree that we harvested plus one more tree was already growing here that we harvested. We planted 6 trees so far as one year we didn't plant a tree.
Our first one was a noble that I paid 25 dollars for, seven years ago and I haven't been able to find one again. We planted it in 1997 and harvested it 5 years later even though we should have harvested 4 years after planting it was too big and bottom had to be cut off a lot.
So its been a grand fir, another kind of fir, I can't remember the name, I will see if I can find the tag (lost stuff from my computer crash so don't hold your breath!). Plus a Frazier fir (Abies fraseri) that looks very similar to a noble. Out of all of them I like the Frazier fir beating out the noble, only because I haven't been able to find one to grow.
I am thinking about buying some smaller sizes and waiting longer to harvest them, but then I like having the four footers on the porch draped in lights.
The hardest part about doing this is it is hard to cut them down when they are so beautiful. But they are usually placed in the garden where if they get any bigger they are going to not look good. However one tree I planted is staying and I refuse to cut it. I think this year it is too big to cut now. Instead I will harvest branches for decorating. You can see its golden branches at the bottom here. Oh and they always look smaller outside so you have to watch them carefully that they are not bigger than your space. A mistake we did the first year with the Noble, but cutting off a lot of the bottom helped fit it into our space.
Here's a picture of the noble (on the left) the year we cut it and it was quite large.
Picea 'Skylands' saved from the ax:
Your picea is beautiful. I wouldn't cut it down either. I bet it would be hard to cut them down. The noble looks really nice in the bed. Do you dig the stump out?
Posted: Dec-03-2004 at 3:59pm
I should add this to the list of events, but on March 4 & 5, 2005 the Snohomish Conservation District holds their annual plant sale. They sell baby nobles, grands and frasiers (6-12") for the bargain price of 15/$11.25 or 30/$21.00. I suppose you'd have to wait quite a while before they'd be big enough, but if you want a bargain xmas tree.... I bet potted up and decorated after the first year they'd be awfully cute gifts.
Anyway, if you need scads of native trees or shrubs for cheap, check them out: Snohomish Conservation District The order forms have the quantities and prices listed, minimum $25 order if you pre-order.
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a
Posted: Dec-19-2004 at 11:25pm
I had potted up a free little Alberta Spruce earlier this year and moved it from the beds to near the entry. I used Nandina berries sprigs and slipped them into the little tree, added some red Nandina leaves and found I had some miniature red ornaments that I placed on the tree as well.
I also took more Nandina berries and placed them into a potted Sarcoccoa and a few feet away snuck more red Nandina leaves and berries into a still viable summer annual pot so that there are three spots along the walkway leading to the front door to see red and green.
Posted: Dec-20-2004 at 2:06pm
Oh that sounds wonderful Carolyn. Its so nice to be able to do that as this time of year so they won't wilt. I've used Nandina leaves and berries in wreaths too. I like your visuals of the little Alberta spruce. Great ideas!
Posted: Dec-20-2004 at 4:01pm
So simple and yet so effectively beautiful, Carolyn! Great ideas, thanks for sharing them.
Posted: Dec-21-2004 at 6:02pm
Well . . . my outdoor decorating is limited to 1 wreath (bought on sale at Fred Meyer, but it is a pretty one), and greenery stuck in the window boxes on either side of the front door. I used ivy (cut from the roadside across the street), holly (from the tree), and everygreen huckleberry branches (from the large bush next to the driveway). Just stuck it all in, however it fit, arranged it till it looked more-or-less aesthetically pleasing, and called it good. Doesn't look too bad, actually.
Hmmm . . . maybe I can add something to the dwarf yew in the corner, next to the porch . . . tie some ribbons or add some red berry thingies to it.