A reader who wants to create holiday decorations from her own backyard, à la Martha Stewart, thinks she has the raw ingredients: a big white pine tree, several holly bushes, camellias, fairy roses, and a large assortment of wildflowers that can be easily dried. But she asked for a little guidance.
It's a great idea, and, in fact, she has some of the best species from which to draw. Plus, she'll save a lot of money. (It's fun, too.) Here are some ideas to get started:
Spent grapevines, with tendrils still in place, and branches from the redbud tree are nimble and easily bent and woven into wreaths. Cut sections long enough to make a circle with a diameter from 12 to 18 inches. Once in place, tie ends together with thin, dark wire. You may also apply scented oils to enhance the wood of the grapevine canes and redbud branches.
Now, add freshly collected pine cones (either from your own garden or the neighborhood). These could be sprayed with white, gold, or silver glitter—or left natural. Small clusters of polished rose hips and dried blooms from the fairy rose and a luxurious organdy ribbon in soft gold-brown (or the color of your choice) will finish this project.
For instant garland branches, turn to your white pine. Just cut the lengths desired, as long as your tree is large enough to tolerate the trimming. Link the ends with thin, dark wire and add cut clusters of dried wildflowers, such as well-preserved goldenrod, baby's breath, and spent spikes from the chaste tree. Again, ribbons made of silk, taffeta, or crushed velvet will give these garlands a touch of elegance.
Greenery from your garden can create a festive dinner table, too, and holly twigs or larger cuttings play a big part. Start with placing small twigs inside folded napkins, with the holly sticking out at the top. Encircle glass cones that hold candles with holly twigs. Finally, create a larger centerpiece of holly cuttings, but you might be wise to skip the berries if you have pets. (They're toxic.) Next, place 18-inch cuttings into a crystal or China vase.
Looking for more natural holiday cheer? Holly also looks lovely when placed around mirrors, especially when the glass is reflecting the dancing flame from candles. Happy holidays!