Decorating with live Christmas greenery has long been a tradition cherished by families around the globe.
The fragrance of freshly cut evergreen boughs as you enter a home at Christmas time is special and seems to revive memories of Yuletides past.
There are many ways that you can incorporate fresh greens into your holiday decorating.
Outdoors, there are countless uses for greens and one of the greatest things is that you do not have to compromise your style to do so.
Whether you enjoy the more contemporary, simple lines of design or a more classic look or a natural, woodland look, you can achieve the style you desire with fresh greenery.
For instance, there is the traditional use of porch planters at the front entrance, the wreath on the door and garland around the door, windows, and trim of the house.
Also be thinking of other areas where you might add a little extra holiday cheer – such as outside the patio door or an area visible from the kitchen window.
Greenery that is used in planters with soil will usually stay fresh looking well into winter – sometimes as late as March. Other outdoor decorations that are not in soil (such as wreaths, swags and garland) will dry up a little quicker than the planters.
Inside the home, fresh greenery can be used for centrepieces, on mantels, as window treatments, on banisters or, when hosting a party you can add to the atmosphere by even just laying some on the centre of the dining room table.
Of course, in the warmth of the house, the greens will not last as long as they do outdoors. For a centrepiece done in fresh oasis, you can expect the greens to last two to three weeks.
But make sure you keep topping up the water in the container.
Greenery that is not in oasis, but just lying there, will only stay fresh for one to two weeks. Try to keep the greenery outside in the cold or at least in a cooler area and bring it in just prior to Christmas.
Here are some tips to consider when thinking about using fresh greenery this season:
* Before shopping for your boughs, take some measurements to make decisions easier and to avoid repeated trips to the garden centre.
Some measurements that you may need to know are: size of the door or wall area where you are hanging a wreath; distance around the doorway or along a railing or fence where you want garland; length of the fireplace mantel; and size of existing decorative pots so you know what pot size will fit inside.
* Are you wanting to co-ordinate colours and types of greenery across your home or opt for unique decorations in each area?
* When shopping for your boughs, make sure the foliage feels fresh to the touch. If it is dry and you are starting to see a bit of browning, these boughs or garlands will not last very long. If you see a lot of needles dropping when handling it, this is also a sign that the greenery is drying out.
* Rehydrate your greenery. Making sure that your greenery has adequate moisture is the key to them lasting longer.
A lot of the boughs that you purchase are cut weeks in advance of you buying them. If you are using boughs to make an outdoor planter, be sure you make a fresh cut on each stem before inserting them into the soil. Keep the soil moist until it freezes.
For wreaths, garlands, and swags, it is best to spritz them every three to four days to keep them green longer. When using fresh greens inside, rehydrating them is essential to longevity.
Fill buckets with room-temperature water. Using a hand pruner, make diagonal cuts through the stems (this allows more water to be absorbed), then gently crush the exposed end with a small hammer. Set them in water for a few hours before working with the plants.
Be sure to add some fresh greenery to your decorating this season.
Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.