Going Green

Why not bring evergreen boughs, pinecones and winter berries into your home this winter and create beautiful and sustainable arrangements using flowers and foliage?

From tall conifers to dwarf evergreens, many varieties come in a range of silvers or golds that work well in winter seasonal arrangements. Traditional options, like trimmed boughs of blue spruce, look great in wreaths and tabletop decorations. The flexible branches of juniper are ropy and its silvery berries add a nice texture to evergreen garlands.

Among the many choices, the most commonly planted evergreens are eucalyptus, cypress, pine, cedar, spruce and juniper.

For the freshest greenery, check out farmers’ markets and garden centres.

You can also try foraging for items – take a walk through your neighbourhood or local woods and scoop up fallen pinecones, branches from evergreens or holly bushes, and use them in your arrangement.

Once you’ve got them home you’ll want to rehydrate your branches. This step helps your greenery last longer. Before making wreaths or garlands, fill buckets with room-temperature water. Using a hand pruner, make diagonal cuts through the stems (this allows more water to be absorbed), then gently crush the exposed end with a small hammer. Stand them in water for a few hours before working with the plants.

Use varieties that last the entire season

After they have been cut, some varieties stay fresh longer than others. Shortneedled pines are very attractive, but a few days after they are cut they will begin to lose leaves. If you need something that will last go for long-needled pines. Whether greenery is hung in the heat of your house or the cold air outside, these winter environments are intensely dry, and the plant has no source of moisture. Fresh greenery will last indoors for about two weeks, and longer outdoors in cold climates. Display greenery out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources; mist with water daily to help the cuttings last.

Select greenery that’s fragrant

If fragrance is of the utmost importance to you, select a combination of aromatic evergreens for your garlands and wreaths. A mix of pine, cedar, eucalyptus, balsam and juniper will result in a uniquely wintry scent. A daily misting of water will help keep evergreens smelling fresh.

What to use

Juniper: Especially good for use in outdoor garlands as it won’t survive long indoors – heat makes its needles turn brittle.

Pine: Ideal for outdoor decorations, garlands, and arrangements.

Blue Spruce: This variety is good for outdoor garlands and wreaths. Take care when hanging ornaments, as the needles are sharp.

Eucalyptus: It dries quickly but makes attractive, scented cut arrangements and outdoor garlands.

Non-Variegated English Holly: A prickly holiday standard that’s ideal for use in garlands and wreaths, this variety lasts up to one week indoors, longer in cut arrangements.

Variegated English Holly: This one is popular in cut arrangements, garlands, and wreaths. It lasts up to one week indoors. It’s available nationwide.

Boxwood: A lush addition to cut arrangements, boxwood is ideal for decorating indoors and out.

Bay: Incorporate bay into your indoor and outdoor displays – its fragrant smell will be welcome no matter where the seasonal greenery is placed.

Embellish with dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, pinecones and seasonal decorative elements.

Table centrepiece

For a stunning centrepiece check out your cupboards or antique or charity shops for interesting props to use: think fruit bowls, terrines and even condiment bottles. Keep whatever you use topped up with water to maximise longevity. Combine winter evergreen with hellebores, pinecones, buxus and skimmia. Add elegant, tall dinner candles for the final finishing touch.

Dress a feature fireplace

Mantelpieces offer a huge number of design options. For a show-stopping arrangement, place soaked Oasis foam in trays along the length of your mantelpiece and then begin creating the overall shape with foliage. Eucalyptus is a top foliage for this time of year – it smells delicious and still looks beautiful when it dries. Variegated ivy, berried ivy and berried eucalyptus are also perfect. Fill the Oasis with foliage so you cannot see any gaps, putting taller pieces at the back and off to the sides and shorter lengths in the middle, with trailing bits cascading at the front. Use evergreen branches secured with wire.

Weave candles in a variety of heights between flowers. If you want fresh flowers, fill huge jardinieres or wicker baskets with forced narcissi or hyacinths. Cover the soil with moss and spike in twigs to add support and drama.

Always be careful when adding designs to mantels, ensuring everything is a safe distance from any lit fire.

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