Make holiday decorations from plants in your garden

Home-made swag with Doug fir, camellia branches, sedum, sword fern, snowberry, honeysuckle, and more. (Photo by Linda McMahan)
Last Updated: 
November 22, 2011

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. – Look no further than your garden if you'd like to make your own holiday decorations. Intertwined organic materials such as grapevines, evergreen boughs and berries make natural-looking wreaths, swags, garlands and centerpieces.

Linda McMahan, an Oregon State University horticulturist, uses grapevines twisted to wreath shape as the backbone of a garland.

"Boughs of evergreen foliage can provide the bulk of the material," she said. "Branches of conifers such as cedar or fir, or broad-leafed evergreens like rhododendrons and camellias can provide most of the bulk."

Thin, flexible floral wire helps bind small bundles to build wreaths. You can attach the bundles to a wreath backing or bind materials together to form a swag. A mix of two or more kinds of greens may make the arrangement more attractive, McMahan said.

"Try the bluish foliage of conifers such as juniper or blue spruce, or mix several textures together, such as a conifer and a broad-leaf evergreen," McMahan suggested. "Including leaves (fronds) of evergreen ferns can add interest and texture. The native sword fern has long elegant evergreen leaves that would be long-lasting in any arrangement."

Gardens also are great places to find embellishments for holiday decorations. Clusters of colorful berries make good accents. Try blue juniper berries or a sprig from a native snowberry. Other accents are fallen cones and interesting seed pods or fruits.

Embellish with small clusters of moss or lichen that have fallen from a tree, or a cluster of leaves that still have their fall color. Bare twigs pruned from garden shrubs could also be used. If you plan ahead, you can have dried summer flowers such as lavender or pearly everlasting to add as accents.

For finishing touches, use colorful ribbons, clusters of fragrant cinnamon sticks, or traditional holiday decorations in your creations. Many web sources provide detailed "how-to" instructions.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: Linda McMahan