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Use greenery from the garden for holiday decorating

JoAnne Skelly
Special to the Nevada Appeal

One of my favorite traditions for holiday decorating is to fill the house with fresh-smelling boughs, garlands and wreaths. Since fall is a good time to prune evergreens, I combine my necessary outdoor task with my desire for indoor greenery. After pruning trees such as incense cedar, spruce or pine, I cut the materials to the right lengths for my wreaths, garlands or centerpieces.

To make a framework for a wreath, I cut long lengths of grape vines and wind them together into a loose wreath frame. A store-bought frame also will work. I then place the greens into the frame and secure them with florist or small-gauge wire. I stagger the cedar and pine with blue spruce to create an interesting contrast of color and texture. Holly, pyracantha or heavenly bamboo berries can be used for bursts of red and orange color. You may have burgundy barberry branches or redtwig dogwood to complement the wreath’s design. Pine or spruce cones are perfect accent materials. Rabbitbrush or sagebrush flowers provide the appearance of baby’s breath. Dried yarrow, sedum or hydrangea flower heads add beauty. Colorful ribbons finish the wreath off.

Making garlands is a little like laying roof tiles in that the pieces overlap. Wire pieces together and then cover the wired areas with an overlap of more greenery. Repeat this step until you have the length you want. The design concepts are similar to those used in making wreaths except you are working in a straight line. Winding ribbon throughout the garland is a nice touch.

For low centerpieces, put florist foam into a short waterproof container. Secure the foam in the container with cross-shaped strips of florist tape prior to wetting the foam. Leave 1 inch to 2 inches of foam above the lip of the container. Put water in the container and let the foam soak it up. Repeat the soaking process until the foam no longer absorbs water. Then you are ready to push the stems of the greens into the foam. For tall arrangements, the stems can go directly into a vase of water without foam, although you may want to weight the vase with marbles or stones to prevent the arrangement from tipping over. Remove all needles or leaves from all portions of the stems that are in the foam or submerged in water.

Let your outdoor landscape help you decorate your home with holiday spirit.

For more information on fertilizers or other gardening topics, contact me, 775-887-2252 orskellyj@unce.unr.edu, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at http://www.unce.unr.edu. “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

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