| B. Rosie Lerner
Harvest Holiday Greenery from
Give your home the festive mood of the holidays by bringing a bit of
your landscape evergreens indoors. Wreaths, swags, garlands and centerpieces
can all be made from plants that are commonly found in the home landscape.
Some of the best materials to cut include balsam and Douglas fir, yew,
holly, boxwood and juniper. Pines boughs are attractive in arrangements,
but this is not a good time to prune them. If pine branches cannot be
cut from your tree inconspicuously, look for boughs at nurseries, garden
centers, florists or Christmas tree sales.
Needles of hemlock and spruce drop easily and should not be used for
indoor decorations. Privet, barberry, English ivy and rhododendron provide
an attractive contrast to the needled foliage. Dried grasses, herbs, berries,
cones and seed pods can help add color to a holiday display.
In the warm, dry environment of the home, cut greens will dry out very
quickly, so keep the cut ends of the branches in water at all times. Sprays
are available to help cut down on moisture loss and somewhat extend the
life of cut greens. Plastic and lacquer hobby sprays or plant resin anti-transpirants
can be used. However, these sprays leave a very sticky residue and should
only be used if decorations will be placed outdoors or out of reach indoors.
Evergreen decorations can be a fire hazard as they age and dry. Avoid
placing near fireplaces, heat ducts, televisions, candles or other sources
of heat or flame. Commercially prepared flame-retardant sprays are available
at many Christmas tree vendors and craft supply stores. A homemade flame
retardant of 4 tablespoons of boric acid, 9 tablespoons borax and 2 quarts
of water can be sprayed on the foliage. Another recipe calls for 5 tablespoons
of borax and 4 tablespoons Epsom salts in 2 quarts of water. These flame
retardants are not foolproof, so the best precaution is to discard decorations
before they become dry and brittle.
More information on making holiday wreaths and other festive decorations
from landscape materials is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-22.pdf
or by contacting the Purdue Extension office in your county and asking
for publication HO-22, "Holiday Greens".