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Sunday, March 3, 2024
Growing Together: Fresh greens help spruce up Christmas decor
Window boxes, wreaths and planters can add a bit of festive charm to your house this season. JOANNE YOUNG

Decorating with live Christmas greenery has long been a tradition cherished by families around the globe.

There is nothing like the fragrance of freshly cut evergreen boughs as you enter a home at Christmas time. It seems to revive memories of Christmas past.

There are so many ways that you can incorporate fresh greens into your holiday decorating. Using evergreen boughs and trees is one of the longest Christmas traditions.

The year-round green foliage provides us with a sign of hope to carry us through the winter and into the new year.

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, a more classic look, or a very natural, woodland look, you can achieve the style you desire with fresh greenery.

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 be adding a little extra holiday cheer – areas that are still focal from inside the house 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 placed into soil, such as wreaths, swags, and garland, will dry up a little quicker than the greens in the planters.

Inside the home, fresh greenery can be used for centrepieces, on mantles, as window treatments, on banisters or even just laying on the centre of the dining room table when hosting a party to add to the atmosphere.

Of course, in the warmth of the house, the greens will not last as long as outdoors. For a centrepiece done in fresh oasis, you can expect the greens to last two to three weeks. 

Make sure you keep topping up the water in the container. For greenery that is not in oasis, but just lying there, the greenery will only stay fresh for one to two weeks.

Try and keep the greenery outside in the cold or at least in a cooler area and bring in just prior to Christmas.

Here are some tips to consider when thinking about using fresh greenery this season:

1. Before shopping for your boughs, you may need to take some measurements first to make decision making easier and to avoid repeated trips to the store.

Some measurements that you may need to know: size of door or wall area where you are hanging a wreath; distance around doorway or along a railing or fence where you want garland; length of fireplace mantle; and size of existing decorative pots so you know what pot size will fit inside.

2. Are you wanting to coordinate colours and types of greenery across your home or opt for unique decorations in each area?

3. What style are you wanting to convey? For a modern look, choose strong and bold lines and keep the lines and selection of greenery simple.

4. When shopping for your boughs, make sure that the foliage seems fresh to the touch. If the foliage is feeling 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.

5. 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 to you buying them. If you are using boughs to make an outdoor planter, make sure you make a fresh cut on each stem before inserting them into the soil. Keep soil moist until it freezes up.

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.

So, if you are “pine-ing” to “spruce” up your décor “fir” the holidays (pun intended … I know, kinda sappy), add some live greenery both outside and inside your home this Christmas.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca

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