Nothing makes the holidays festive like bringing natural greenery inside. Garlands, wreaths and arrangements brighten indoor spaces and remind us that there is life out there weathering the weather.
Usually reserved as a backdrop for flowers, this is the season for greenery to shine. With some added lights and colourful decorations and with the fragrance of fresh woods, natural holiday greenery can turn any home into a wonderland. To help you choose what greenery to include in your festive arrangements, here’s a look at some of the season’s green offerings.
Flat, soft and somewhat pliable, cedar cuttings are perfect for decorations that need to flow and drape. Cedar doesn’t love heat, so keep it away from arrangements that use candles. It won’t drop needles, but it can develop a dried-out look.
Spruce is a favourite choice for a Christmas tree and gives body and structure to wreaths, swags and garlands. It will shed its short needles as it dries, so sprigs used in indoor arrangements should have plenty of water or be misted every day.
Like spruce, fir trees make for an iconic Christmas tree. Their short needles tend to be hardier than spruce, which makes them longer-lasting and easier to care for when used in indoor arrangements. Their full, sturdy branches are a staple of wreaths and garlands.
A classic and fragrant holiday green, pine’s long needles create a striking texture contrast when paired with spruce or cedar in wreaths and cut arrangements. Its elegant boughs are soft and pliable, making it easy to intertwine when used as a garland, but not trustworthy to hold the weight of ornaments.
Juniper thrives in outdoor or last-minute arrangements. Western juniper is a better choice for long-lasting decorations that don’t have a source of water. Its slightly frosted appearance and its gorgeous blue berries offer subtle contrast in mixed arrangements but can be a great option for those who want something in a cooler palette.
There are many different varieties and species of conifers that you might include, and their availability will depend, of course, on your geography and climate. A few to avoid, though, are yew and Norway spruce. Both are terrible needle-shedders and will turn your hard work into a mess within a very few days.
This is the most classic of holiday greenery. Holly’s dark green or variegated waxy leaves, its iconic leaf shape and its contrasting red berries have been used to brighten the darkest days for millennia. Its distinctive presence livens up arrangements and puts a little natural colour into wreaths and garlands.
Flexible and delicate, ivy is a versatile addition to garlands, swags and creative arrangements. It’s easy to string and to hang and tendrils will cling to themselves, making it easy to twine around and bind other botanicals. Its many varieties offer a range of hues.
The small leaves of the boxwood can make for a lovely contrast when used together with other kinds of greenery. On its own, boxwood creates a lush, full effect in wreaths, balls and other arrangements.
Magnolia lasts a long time when cut and takes on a golden hue as it dries. Its broad, flat leaves are dark green on top with a muted underside, making them beautiful on their own in wreaths or cut arrangements or when used as a contrast with other kinds of greenery.
As with the conifers above, there are many varieties of these evergreens as well as other species of evergreens that make an equally cheerful addition to holiday decorating. Their availability will depend on your location – part of the joy of using natural greenery can be discovering what local treasures your region has to offer.
When picking out your holiday greenery, choose cuttings that are green, firm and free of the signs of pests and disease. Avoid using those conifers whose needles start dropping as soon as they’re handled. And remember to make sure your greenery has been sustainably harvested so we can keep the holidays green for generations to come.