Bring Winter Greenery into Your Home

image source: MidWestLiving

From foliage to seed heads, berries to blooms, plants provide us with some of the best seasonal decorations for our homes.

Whether you shape them into wreaths and garlands, gather them in vases or plant them in pots, they add life to your rooms. They can be inexpensive and very often free. Unlike baubles, winter greenery are also very much not just for Christmas. You can perk up your home in the winter months to come. So, with all that in mind, I have put together a quick guide to what is in season now and shared some of my favourite decorating ideas using plants. As well as touching on when real plants are perfect and when you might actually want to use life-like instead.

What’s in season in winter?

There are all the usual winter greenery suspects of cours holly, ivy, yew, pine and fir. They are easy to find in many gardens, hedgerows and woodlands. If you are taking from the wild, make sure to forage responsibly. For something a little more unusual – and less specifically Christmassy – look out for dried seed heads like teasels and old man’s beard, ferns, whether still green or dried, and interesting twigs and fallen branches such as beech. Beech very often holds onto its papery, russet leaves and ash keeps its winged seeds throughout winter.

In the garden, there can be lots to choose from. It pays to plan ahead and choose plants specifically to give you winter interest both inside and out. But you might already have more to pick from than you think. Favourites include dogwood, hazel, daphne, quince and winter varieties of clematis, cherry, jasmine and honeysuckle, all of which can provide interesting, large-scale decorations in vases or as garlands. Then there are flowers such as hellebores, violas, snowdrops, heather, hardy cyclamen and dried hydrangea heads. While in the kitchen garden, there are evergreen herbs like rosemary and bay to pick from.

How can I decorate with winter greenery at Christmas?

This side of Christmas, you will be thinking most about wreaths, garlands and table decorations. If you are making a wreath using real foliage, avoid floral foam which isn’t necessarily the best eco option. Instead, create your base by securing damp moss to a wire frame using floristry wire which you can continue to mist while your wreath’s up to keep the rest of the foliage fresh. Evergreens like holly and ivy, berry stems such as rosehips and, of course, dried plants will all be fine for a time.

As for garlands, sometimes simple is very often the best. Choose just one plant. Ideally with both foliage and berry interest, such as yew, holly or berried ivy, or else a couple to give you both and use masses of it. Generally, garlands look best when they’re full and generous.

Then, when it comes to table decorations, one of my very favourite looks is to use potted plants. Place plants in into decorative indoors pots, or plant them straight into bowls and glasses temporarily, finishing both with moss around the base of the plant. In either case, you can then transplant them into a more permanent pot or the ground outside once you have finished using them as table decoration. Other easy tabletop ideas include small posies of delicate snowdrops or berried twigs in tumblers, and a sprig of rosemary tied to each napkin with ribbon.

If you are looking to add something a little more unusual into your decorating this Christmas, turn both to kitchen garden plants and the contents of your larder. I mentioned rosemary earlier, but chillies, pomegranates, cranberries and limes all also make interesting additions to wreaths, garlands and tabletop displays. Dried citrus is a classic too. However, consider the red varieties of oranges and grapefruits instead, which will turn a subtle ruby colour when dried.

How about during the rest of winter?

As we head into January and on until spring, there is a real sense of wanting to embrace both the freshness and verve of the new year and the stark beauty of winter. So, opt more for winter greenery than red berries or gold accents – ferns and pines will be just the thing. Snowdrops, hellebores and narcissi all continue to have a place in your home too of course. While architectural, bare branches will speak to that crisp, sharply defined side of winter. Look out for emerging catkins and the very earliest of blossoms to hint at the emerging life that’s just around the corner.

When should I use real and when life-like?

I would usually go for real when I want to use potted plants as decoration. They can live on again in your garden, as opposed to cut flowers. They will also give you weeks of interest inside year after year, rather than just days. I will also use real plants where I can source them easily and responsibly for free. Be that from my own gardens or the countryside, and I also love branches that naturally have a good shape.

On the other hand, life-like really comes into its own when you can’t easily find it. They are also great when you would rather leave the real thing for yourself to enjoy in the garden. And finally, where life-like is also incredibly useful is in arrangements. Especially, where you can’t easily provide water, like garlands and wreaths. All our stems are wired inside too, which means they are wonderfully easy to manipulate and hold in place.