During recent years, decorating for the holidays has changed a great deal. We have seen traditional, modern and country, color schemes from the good old red and green to pastels, metallics and even an entire house I saw in beautiful shades of purple, and now we are on, or back on, to something else. Natural.
Open any one of those expensive decorating magazines and you will see articles and photographs featuring natural materials. So if we are to be in fashion this winter, we must follow along. And this is a joy to accomplish as well as being easy on the billfold.
You do not need to go to a garden center or florist to find the things you need. Just step outside. You may think that you do not have the right stuff in your backyard, and I would agree you will probably need to beg some materials from family or friends who have woods or at least a number of trees to prune in a good cause.
But for a start, take a fresh look at what you already have, as I did.
In my small yard, I have two sources for greenery - a large arborvitae and a dwarf Alberta spruce.
Then there are the feathery plumes of several varieties of ornamental grass. The callicarpa, or American beauty berry, is loaded with beautiful lavender-colored berries, and the climbing roses did not get pruned well this year and so have a wealth of rose hips to share.
Beyond that, I need to dig out the leftover gold spraypaint from last Christmas. The Rose of Sharon twigs with round seed pods look elegant and expensive with a quick coat of paint, as do the seedpods of coneflowers and other perennials.
Looking at artificial greenery and flowers in craft stores, it often is impossible to tell it from the real thing without feeling the texture, and a combination of the two looks great.
Swags, wreaths, bouquets and other arrangements in rustic containers set the tone for a natural Christmas.
I always buy leftover sprays of red berries in the after-Christmas sales, as I use them in my dining room in large quantities.
After the lights and ornaments are on the tree, I fill every possible space with bunches of berries, just pushing them in everywhere. Swags around the window and a wreath on the door carry out the theme, and real pine garland decorated with even more berries gives a wonderful scent.
This year, I plan to create something to grace the chandelier following the same theme.
Five small twigs can be glued together to form a star, just like the ones teachers scribble on good papers, and a giant twig star laced with berries or rose hips can
replace a wreath on the front door.
My grapevine tree has given up finally after probably 10 years of use in summer and winter. It went out in a blaze of glory this fall when the vines crumbled and came off with the remnants of the scarlet runner beans. But the framework and base are still good, and I think they will look great on the front porch if the support struts are wound with garland and white lights and decorated with artificial fruit.
All kinds of natural material will show the garden is not just a summer event, but it can keep giving through a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas.