Are you looking for the perfect winter décor for your home this season? Adding a touch of greenery to any living space makes for the perfect winter feel without the cold. Craft stores can become expensive when trying to find that perfect look for your home, but have you looked outside lately? Decorations could be right in your own backyard.
If you are looking for a more classic style this winter, look no further than your backyard for a taste of Southern tradition with greenery. Pines, junipers, cedar, spruce, holly and magnolia are just a few of the trees and greens that are ample in our area and make the perfect décor accessory for any home.
“A current trend is decorating with a variety of greens in uncommon places,” said University of Tennessee’s Gardens Director Sue Hamilton. “It’s not unusual to see homes trimmed with garlands of pine but containers, planters, window boxes and even garden benches and chairs stuffed with such trimmings is unique.”
There are several types of greenery growing in our area. Here are a few that Hamilton describes as perfect for holiday and seasonal decorations:
• Shortleaf Pine: This native pine has shorter, coarser needles, and it is long lasting with excellent needle retention. Shortleaf pine is readily available throughout most of Tennessee.
• Junipers: Fragrant, short, green or silver blue foliage that may be adorned with small blue berries. The needles are often sticky. Red cedar is a native juniper and is readily available.
• True Cedars: Deodar cedar, blue atlas cedar, and cedar of Lebanon all offer a fine texture and blue-gray color.
• Firs: The needles are short and flat with excellent color and needle retention. Fraser fir wreaths and swags are commonly available from commercial sources.
• Spruce: Wreaths are the main use for spruce greens. The branches are stiff with short, sharp needles not pleasant to work with. Blue spruce is especially attractive because of its color, and it holds its needles better than other spruce. Needle retention is poorer on spruce than on other conifer greens.
• Holly: This most traditional holiday green comes in several forms, both green and variegated. Female plants display bright red berries. American holly is a native. Deciduous winterberry holly is great for providing whole branches of berries.
• Mountain Laurel: This native evergreen is traditional in the South for wreaths and garlands.
• Boxwood: This small leafed shrub is a longtime favorite for fine textured wreaths and garland.
• Red twig and bloodtwig dogwood: Though not evergreens, the colorful bare branches of these two deciduous shrub dogwoods are just spectacular in the winter landscape. Depending on cultivar, you can find selections with orange, red or yellow branches that just pop when mixed with any winter green.
• Magnolia: The large leaves are a glossy, dark green that contrast well with the velvety, brown undersides. Magnolia leaves make stunning wreaths and bases for large decorations.
• Scarlet Willow: The Scarlet Willow, a variant of the White Willow, can potentially make a tall tree, but it is more often coppiced as a multi-stemmed shrub for its colorful stems. The young stems are a vivid red and make a colorful statement in the landscape.
• River Birch: Branches and twigs from this native tree are all the trend right now for use in decorating.
• Osage Orange: The fruit of this native tree ripens and drops to ground at the perfect time for holiday decorating. Great for use in centerpieces, mantels, and outdoor containers.
• Rose: The colorful hues of a variety of different roses make a colorful accent for holiday decorations.
Hamilton adds that the best place to look for holiday greenery is in your own landscape.
“Greenery gathered from your own garden will be far fresher than any that you can buy. You may also have a variety of unusual greenery that would be difficult to find for purchase. When gathering live greenery from your shrubs and trees, remember that you are actually pruning the plants. Consider carefully which branches to cut and which ones to leave. Distribute the cuts evenly around the plant in order to preserve its natural form.”
During the winter months, gardens go bare. The annuals that provided color in the fall are gone. The mums that once added beautiful volume to flower beds are now barren and crisping away. Using evergreens to spruce up an outdoor space can make your house the best on the block again.
“A mixture of a variety of greens makes a striking accent in the landscape,” said Hamilton. “Consider blending together a variety of hollies, with and without berries, with a variety of evergreens in different colors and forms. Things like blue juniper, gold cypress, and green pine which contrast not only in color but texture and form as well. Nothing is more striking than a holly with red berries combined with a variety of green, blue, and gold greens with some placed vertically while others cascade with their weeping branches. Such decorating is really quite fashionable and is sure to enliven your sleeping garden.”
Evergreens are the perfect accessory to any home or landscape during the winter.
“Evergreens have been a part of winter festivals since ancient times,” Hamilton said. “Evergreens are used to represent everlasting life and hope for the return of spring. Not only will it add a fresh and natural look to your home during the holiday season, but it’s also one of the oldest winter holiday traditions.”
Skip the craft stores this year and think traditional with materials right from your backyard. Any of the greens can be used for indoor and outdoor décor and are the perfect addition to any bare space. From centerpieces to wreaths and outdoor spaces, greenery is in and brown is out.