Evergreens are so natural and neutral, you can drape great swags of them anywhere-over mirrors, around banisters, from picture rails. They are not meant to be permanent, but that is part of their charm. Without nature’s prettiest and lushest offerings-evergreens for garlands and wreaths, and fresh blooms for bouquets-a house is not quite dressed for the holidays.
Garlands are like gift-wrapping for your rooms. Making them is an easy two-step process. First use wire and twine to construct a narrow length of thin, pliable branches called a base garland. Then you completely cover it with decorative greens.
Evergreens can also be combined to create beguiling textures and contrasts; when woven through a swag of blue spruce, sprigs of seeded and weeping eucalypti shimmer like tendrils of silver lace. You can make garlands as slim or as full as you like. The beauty of evergreens lies in the length, color, and complexity of their needles or leaves, so most call for little embellishment other than ribbons.
Your own property may contain the boughs you need. Cutting greenery from your own trees and shrubs is not just economical, it can also be good for them. Blue atlas cedar, for example, is by nature a little sparse, and pruning the tips helps it grow back fuller. Evergreens that have needles should not be heavily pruned-cut a pine-tree branch to the trunk, and it will never grow back-but you can safely trim the smaller offshoots down to the main branch, shaping the tree as you go.
The evergreens will either dry beautifully or stay lush and supple for about three weeks, long enough to get through the holidays. And they last even longer if they are used outdoors or set in water. Greenery makes for wonderful decor accents and arrangements.
Flowers will not last as long as evergreens, but they are more welcome than ever. On a winter morning, a bowl of silky tulips can seem like a tiny miracle. Use the season’s traditional blooms, or other favorite flowers, in unexpected ways. Cut from their bulbs and arranged in a vase, amaryllis seem even more vibrant and exotic.
Paper-whites are endearing planted in individual pots and grouped on a tray atop a small table or mantel. Instead of a favorite vase or urn, employ a pretty household item, like a sugar bowl or coffee pot, then fill it with flowers that show it off.
When it comes to decking the halls, no one provides better materials than nature.