Monday, December 13, 2010

Gathering Greenery to decorate the home at Christmas

I am so blessed here at Eight Acres of Eden to be surrounded by abundant, verdant greenery. Just perfect for setting out at Christmas time around the home, bringing the gifts of nature inside to enjoy for a time. There is so much to choose from - it is just a matter of grabbing a basket off the pot hanger, picking up a pair of scissors, enlisting the help of a volunteer 'gatherer' and stepping outside the door!

After recent rain the garden was flourishing - the magnolia's shiny green leaves are always lovely in arrangements and the roses have started to bloom - the girls wanted to pick the flowers but were happy to follow mum's instructions and leave them in the garden to enjoy!

They did take the time though to stop and smell the roses!

This is the selection of greenery we brought inside to decorate the top of the Stanley Stove which is the focal point of our family/dining room. Of course it is summer here - the fire will not be lit again until winter so I can decorate the stove to my heart's content without fear of setting anything alight!

This is a list of my top three favourite items of greenery to use at Christmas time

1. Cypress snipped from my favourite tree at this property - a kashmiri cypress which graces one side of the main entrance to my home. It is so tall and majestic. I love its sage green fronds which drape so beautifully. It is perfect for setting out along the edges of shelves.

2.Cedar - I feel so blessed to literally live 'beneath boughs of cedar'. The tall tree that stands on the other side of the front rocky path which leads to the front entrance is a Himalayan cedar. It's spiky needles really do bring Christmas inside and are the perfect finishing touch for the loose natural arrangements that I prefer. I used to hang Christmas lights in this tree but it has now grown too tall - I enjoy its splendour unadorned all year round!

3. Bay Leaves - I planted this bay tree when we first moved to this property. It has flourished and I resisted the temptation to turn it into a standard bay tree - this is a forest property, it is wild and untamed - a manicured garden with straight lines and hedges and rows of flowers would not be quite right and I don't mind - I don't have to keep trimming it back all the time to keep it neat. An occasional pruning and I have bay leaves to pop into a casserole in winter, to add to jars of dry ingredients to keep weevils at bay (excuse the pun!) and at Christmas I can gather armfuls of leaves for decorative purposes.

There are other conifers I can snip from, there is also an olive tree which has never fruited but I like to use its branches in arrangements and the tips for trimmings - tuck a sprig under a ribbon tied around a jar of Christmas preserves or biscuits or tuck into a napkin. I can also find lots of ivy to wrap around the handles of wicker baskets - it is a weed that needs to be pulled out but a useful weed for the Christmas decorator!

Here is the result of our greenery gathering expedition - my Stanley stove affectionately known as 'Stan' bedecked in greenery for the Christmas season. This was my trial run - after a few days the greenery will wilt and I will remove it - there is plenty more to replace it. I occasionally make longer lasting more structural arrangements using oasis taped into trays but when time is limited I simply layer, drape, tuck and scatter! I think I prefer this more natural look for my home. I plan to gather some greenery on Christmas Eve morning and in the evening as we sit down to dinner I will light all the candles!

A closer look

I love my enamel kettle which is the perfect match for the Stanley. I hope to add to my white enamelware collection - in the gift store where I found my kettle, there is a sweet milk jug and a small bucket which I can see now filled to the brim with green or red apples!

I love these little metal white tea- lights with their dragonfly design. I found them at a garage sale for just $2. I hope you have enjoyed seeing a corner of my home and how I use what is freely available to me from my garden to decorate at Christmas time. I believe nature makes some of the best decorations! Don't have enough baubles to pile up in bowls on your Christmas table? How about apples? Or oranges? Nuts from your pantry? Cinnamon sticks and snippets of greenery from the shrubs in your garden or ask permission from a neighbour with a garden of hedges that need to be trimmed for their prunings!

Don't have time to drape the banisters of your staircase or sufficient greenery to make swags for your mantel piece? Don't own a chandelier? Why not just add sprigs to an afternoon tea tray or tuck greenery into napkins - a little touch here and there - you will be surprised at the difference these simple embellishments of green will make to you home! I'm hoping to make some more of these gingerbread wreaths this week - the chocolate leaves and a few fronds of cypress are all that is needed to make a simple but stunning gift - and so much easier than constructing a gingerbread house!

Happy Gathering!

With Love and Joy,



  1. All Looks awesome!!! Especially the Gingerbread wreath!!! yummmmm!!!

  2. How lovely you've got those beautiful old trees - the cedar and the cypress - I think they would both have grown in the Holy land, so they are the right ones to decorate with at Christmas time.
    Ann, your kitchen looks just gorgeous, I'm sure I can smell all the goodness where I am!!!
    Enjoy the few precious days we have left of the wonderful season of Advent!
    Shane x

  3. I love these ideas Ann. I might try a little myself in the next couple of days. Would you be able to share your gingerbread recipe?

  4. Hi Ann
    This is just lovely! I've also been using our greenery (we have a row of pine trees here) to decorate our table - I have candles amongst the pine needles & pinecones! I do need to replace them though (thanks for the reminder). I hope you are having a wonderful time preparing for Christmas. I'm having so much fun baking & decorating this year - & I often think of different little ideas you've given through your blogs - so thankyou!
    Have a wonderful day

  5. Ann, this is lovely! I agree... the natural boughs of greenery are my preference as well. And replacing them isn't a big deal if you have lots of trees/options. I hadn't thought to use oasis, but that makes sense. The bay leaves are so wonderful... wish it would grow here! My aunt has a tree and I always bring some branches back when I visit to dry for cooking use, but to have some to decorate would be awesome!


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