Naturally Easy Holiday Decorations

an image of botanical holiday decorations
(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener December 2006 issue)

By Steffie Littlefield

A picture of natural holiday decorationsThis holiday season leave the glitz and glimmer to the commercial establishments and refresh your outdoor pots, window boxes and porches with natural fresh cut greens and colorful twigs.  Combining beautiful lush evergreen boughs, wreaths and garlands with weatherproof berries, pinecones, charming outdoor ornaments and rich red ribbons, will make the entrance to your home warm and inviting.

Rather than hide your empty front porch urns and window boxes in the garage for the winter, clear out the old plant material and hard soil, fill them with loose peat moss and create a wonderful winter tribute to Mother Nature. For a large urn, start with two or three fresh-cut Douglas fir boughs placed cut end down into the peat moss for center height. For color and fullness alternate silver fir and golden arborvitae tips around the container. To add a cascading or trailing dimension use white pine tips along the edges.  As a contrast in texture and as filler, I like cut boxwood or berried juniper stems stuck into the arrangement around the sides.

Next strategically stab red and yellow dogwood twigs into the top and sides

an image of botanical holiday decorations

photo by Ellen Barredo

to add drama to the arrangement. For something different try curly willow stems; for added color, use incense cedars bunches with gold tips; and for that holiday touch, wire large pine cones to twigs and stick them into sides of the arrangement. I even like to use a few natural-looking, weatherproof red berry sprays.  Collecting old fashioned outdoor ornaments like snowflakes, metal sleigh bells, and fruit such as apples and pears can add charm to your outdoor decorations.

Bird seed formed into stars and wreaths attract and feed wildlife when hung from nearby tree limbs. Use a lightweight green florist wire to secure your ornaments.  A simple, elegant, velvet bow will provide the finishing touch on your evergreen wreath or swag.

After the holidays, your cut evergreens will stay fresh and colorful in the cold winter temperatures. If the weather is warm dampen the peat moss enough to keep the arrangement from drying too quickly.  Next spring, your natural decorations can be added to the mulch pile and recycled as garden compost.

Steffie Littlefield is a horticulturist and garden designer at Garden Heights Nursery. She has degrees from St. Louis Community College at Meramec and Southeast Missouri State and is a member of Gateway Professional Horticultural Association and past president of Horticulture Co-op of Metropolitan St. Louis. You can also find out about her family vineyard and event venue at