Bring the outside in for the holidays

With the decorating season in full swing it is time to think about ways to bring the outside in for the holidays.

My effort started with some trimmings from the holly bush. I bought a little model of an English robin while I was in England, and wanted to fix him up for the season. He now sits on a miniature tree stump with a grapevine ring around him, and I pushed sprays of holly berries into the ring.

Then my indoor fairy gardens called out for updating. There are plenty of little snowmen wherever Christmas village models are sold, and a few of these along with a powdering of artificial snow quickly winterizes the indoor gardens. Some of the larger tree-like sedums and other succulents are big enough to hold ornaments sold for miniature trees, and garlands can be created from ribbon or a length of crocheted chain stitch.

With their varied colors, scents and textures, there are many herbs that lend themselves to festive Christmas decorating. Rosemary is particularly inviting with its wonderful scent and greenery that fits well with evergreen wreaths and garlands. If you have a source of rosemary cuttings, it is fairly easy to make a tree that will last for quite a while in the house. In some years I have found them in stores, but not so far this year. You can create one with a terracotta pot, a block of Oasis or similar material, and a good supply of rosemary. Cut the Oasis into some kind of a cone, and if it is too small to shape with one piece, add more foam with toothpicks as it will not show. Set it into the pot and push small twigs of rosemary (about 2 to 3 inches long) all round the edge. When you have finished the first row start another immediately above and keep going until the cone is covered. Prune the tree into a tidy shape, and wet the Oasis to keep it fresh. A spray every day will help with this. You could trim the tree with cranberry garland, but I like mine plain in contrast to my three heavily decorated Christmas trees.

Wreaths are simple to make, and you can take a shortcut by using an artificial evergreen wreath as a base, and then add trimming such as pine cones, strung cranberries and popcorn, sprays of rose hips and berries, leaf sprays of bay or sage, tufts of Spanish moss. I have seen two hints for keeping natural wreaths supple and fresh for the holidays. Just dip your greens into a bucket containing a solution of four parts water to one of acrylic floor spray, shake off the excess and let the plant material dry before forming the wreath. Then when it is completed, spray weekly with a teaspoon of liquid fabric softener in a quart of water.

Have fun bringing your garden inside.

Janet DelTurco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.

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