Shop in Your Garden

Whether your winter celebrations are sacred, religious, cultural, pagan, pure retail or astronomical (Winter Solstice is December 22nd), I’ll bet you’d love to add some color and cheer to your surroundings during this coldest of seasons.

Have you thought about sourcing your gardens and yard for decorations? You might be surprised at the variety of colors, textures and shapes you can find to brighten your décor—indoors and out.

So, move over, inflatable reindeer. Watch out, Santa Claus toilet seat covers. Decorations from the garden may be the real eyecatchers this year.


I got some great ideas for livening up outdoor spaces in winter when I visited the U.S. Botanical Garden in D.C. Twigs cut from red twig dogwood shrubs can be used to add height and dazzling, crimson red color to hearty live plants or arrangements of cuttings in outdoor containers. (Berries picked separately.)

The same design principles can be brought indoors. You can perk up your indoor potted plants with interesting colors and shapes from the garden. Container- grown herbs overwintering inside can be dressed up with bows, ribbons or flower stems for a celebratory vibe. Pots of rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are great choices to add charm and fragrance to the festivities.

Photo Credit: Kinsey Family Farms

Full-bodied boughs of greenery bejeweled with gorgeous red berries make holly trees a great source for holiday decor. Trim some sprigs to arrange at the mailbox, and bring some inside to deck the halls, spread out on the mantle or use in centerpieces.

Photo Credit: Kinsey Family Farms

Of course, hollies aren’t the only berry-bearing plants in the garden during the holidays. Look around and see what you’ve got. If the birds haven’t already stripped them, pyracantha branches may be laden with orange-red berries now. These are great to add to wreaths, garlands and flower arrangements.

Here are some more pretty examples of the outdoor containers displayed during the winter holidays at the Botanical Garden. I love the bigger one in the back. Tall wispy branches from curly willow trees add height, interest and unexpected quirkiness to the lush greenery. Cuttings from tall, dried grasses can also add whimsy to a container planting.

If you don’t have anything exotic in your garden this winter, don’t despair. Some of the best clippings to jazz up your holiday décor will come from every day, garden variety (pardon the pun) plants:  evergreen conifers like pine, juniper and Leyland cypress and broadleaf evergreens like magnolia, holly, ivy and nandina. Pine cones and magnolia pods can add to the décor, as can dried flower heads from perennials, such as hydrangeas. Oh, and don’t forget the mistletoe!

There’s plenty of online inspiration and DIY advice for creating holiday cheer in your home from natural materials found in the garden. Search phrases like “natural holiday decorations,” “nature inspired holiday décor” and “holiday decorating with garden greenery” for ideas.

If you’re looking ways to make a big impression with outdoor containers this winter, wander around Deborah Silver’s blog, Dirt Simple, for some brilliant examples of her designs that may give you ideas for your own home. For the highly motivated, she even provides instruction on putting together extraordinary holiday containers like the ones that come out of her studio.

So why not grab a basket and go shopping in your garden this holiday season? And if you want a wider selection for next winter, let’s talk about adding some plants with that in mind.


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