Decorating ideas grown straight from the garden |

Decorating ideas grown straight from the garden

Joanne Skelly
For the Appeal

As the holiday season fast approaches, thoughts turn to garden-inspired decorating ideas. Fall pruning yields an abundance of greens – juniper, pine, spruce and others. It may also provide berries and colorful foliage from pyracantha, viburnum, holly, and even rose bushes. Why not combine fall pruning with holiday decorating?

For wreath materials, try pruning some trailing grapevines. Wrap them into a wreath shape and tie them together with twine or wire. The twists and turns of the vines hold stems of greens quite well, requiring only minimal wiring. Use a variety of greens to provide diverse textures to the wreath. Insert stems of berries, or vibrant-colored heavenly bamboo or wild rose to create interest. Add a beautiful florist bow, pine cones or even a bird’s nest for a focal point. Put a wire on the back and hang it in a prominent spot for all to enjoy.

Perhaps you would like beautiful displays to frame your entryway. Choose containers the size that you would like, and fill them with soil, rocks or gravel, whatever will work to weight the pots. Then, arrange greens, foliage, gourds, unusual branches and stems in the pots. I have used sagebrush, rabbitbrush, dried yarrow flowers and lavender stems. Search your landscape for creative materials. Think how striking the white bark of a paper birch is, or how the red twigs of dogwood could spice up an arrangement. There are no limits to what can be used.

On a different note, I want to thank Dave Ruf of Greenhouse Garden Center for responding to my recent article on caring for pond plants and giving some local tips. In our area, bog and pond plants placed in the bottom of the pond for overwintering often rot.

In native environments, bogs usually have little water in them over the winter. Dave suggests planting shallow-rooted tender bog plants in the yard and watering them two to three times each month. Pulling them out of the pond will increase their chances of survival. He does not recommend this technique for water hawthorn, waterlilies or other deep-rooted pond plants. Lilies can be fine in the water at eight inches or deeper, especially if you keep the pond water circulating all winter. Also, heated baskets for pond plants are available for about $55. Plug in the basket, put the plant in the basket, and leave it in the pond. However, be aware that this may encourage string algae growth.

For more information, e-mail or call me at 887-2252. You can “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.