As the winter solstice approaches, bring your garden indoors!
Native plant gardens abound with interesting branches, berries and flowers to add touches of nature to your home. Even in a small garden like ours, winterberries, hawthorns, hollies, witch hazels, an eastern red cedar or two, magnolias and even dried flowers make great decor. Bringing a bit of nature in hedges those early sunsets and reminds us longer days are just ahead.
Wreaths and Swags and Such
Cover a base with evergreens. Eastern red cedar (Juniperis virginiana), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) all work well. If you use or make a form from grapevine, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) or even, as seen in this video, red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), you can stick cut branches directly between the vines and they will usually hold. For something you plan to hang on a frequently used door or to make a more sturdy creation, you can make small bundles of evergreens by wrapping a couple of cuttings with thin wire and then wiring the bundle to your form. If you don't have a wire form, or vines handy, you can make a base using rolled up newspaper wrapped with thin wire.
Berries, Cones and Seeds
These can all be used to decorate wreaths, swags or any creation you make. Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), inkberry (Ilex glabra), coral berries (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) and American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) add hues of blues, pinks and purples. Winterberries (Ilex verticilllata), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), winter king green hawthorn (Crataegus viridis "Winter King'), and crabapples (Mangus angustifolia) add reds. Seed heads and pine cones add texture.
Flowers and Ferns
Hydrangea flowers, from smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'annabelle'), a popular cultivar but not as good for insects, the straight species wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), better for insects, or the oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia), native to the southeast, left to dry on shrubs make great decor additions. Dried ostrich fern fronds can add architecture. Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) got its name, in part, because it is still green at this time of year. It can be added to wreaths, vase arrangements or swags and keeps fairly well.
For more ideas, check out this post. A few minutes cutting branches in the garden at this time of year inevitably leads me to a note to self: plant more of these winter wonders for next year!