By Melinda Myers
Take a break from the holiday rush for a bit of gardening relief. Grab a pruner and basket then wander through your landscape gathering a few evergreen branches, berry-laden stems and cones to create a holiday centerpiece.
Most gardeners are used to walking into their summer garden collecting blossoms to create a bouquet or arrangement for their summer parties. Winter should be no exception.
Start by gathering some greens. The fan-like sprays of arborvitae, blue-green sprigs of juniper and stems of other evergreens like yews, boxwood, pines, and spruces provide all the greenery you’ll need.
Now look for items with interesting color or shapes. Red and yellow twig dogwoods, curly willow, contorted filbert and fantail willow provide interesting color and form.
Next, gather cones, berries and fruits such as rose hips, the blue berry-like cones of junipers, sweet gum seedpods, alder’s cone-like fruit, and of course evergreen cones as substitutes for summer blooms.
Don’t overlook purple coneflower, black berry lily, penstemon and other seed heads and pods. Fluffy seed heads of ornamental and native grasses make nice fillers. All these make beautiful additions to any arrangement and can be painted or glittered for some added glitz. And don’t be afraid to add a few shiny ornaments for a bit of holiday flare.
Look for decorating possibilities that your indoor garden can provide. Dress up small plants to create a centerpiece and larger plants to provide a bit of seasonal color and decor.
Stop by your favorite florist or garden center and purchase a few water picks and cut flowers. Place the cut flowers in the picks and sink them into the pots of your favorite houseplants. This adds some color and seasonal interest to any green plant.
Consider creating a changeable houseplant container. Plant several compatible indoor plants in a large container. Sink a small empty pot in the space where you want to create a focal point. Set a small potted flowering plant inside this empty one. Replace the flowering plant occasionally to freshen up the container garden or create a seasonal display. Miniature poinsettias, azaleas, African violets and cyclamen allow you to change out the display throughout the year and for any special occasion.
Make it even easier to change the display by filling a large basket with a collection of potted houseplants and flowering plants. Switch out the flowers as they fade and foliage plants as the holidays, your mood or the décor changes.
Use silk flowers, glittery spikes and decorative ornaments to add a splash of color and sparkle to your indoor garden as needed. Exchange these for red, pink and white hearts on Valentine’s Day, colorful Easter eggs, or faux fall leaves as the seasons change.
Once you’ve created your first arrangement, you’ll be looking for additional opportunities to create more. And as you plan this year’s garden, consider growing more plants that can be used to dress up your dinner table and other rooms in your home.
Melinda Myers has written numerous books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.