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By LORI ROSE
(SENIOR WIRE) Decorating the house with fresh greenery is one of the oldest winter traditions. Evergreens have been a part of winter festivals since ancient times and were used to represent everlasting life and hope for the return of spring.
Greenery like ivy, pine, and holly will add a fresh, natural scent to your home and give your arrangements a unique look. There’s a great feeling of satisfaction in collecting and arranging the elements of your own winter decorations.
Along with a beautiful wreath for the front door, experiment with garlands, swags, and centerpieces for indoors and door toppers of greens and fruits, or containers of greenery, twigs, and cones for outdoors. There are no rules for arranging—let the assortment you collect guide you.
When gathering live greenery from shrubs and trees, remember you are actually pruning the plants. Consider carefully which branches to cut and which to leave. Distribute the cuts evenly around the plant to preserve its natural form, and be sure to use a sharp, clean pruner.
While you’re outside, also look for acorns, pine cones, dried hydrangea blossoms, rose hips, and bright orange pyracantha berries (watch out for the thorns).
When you get your treasures home, smash the ends of woody stems with a hammer and soak them in water overnight before arranging. Tie florist’s wires to sprigs of berries or rose hips, pine cones, and acorns, to make them easy to attach to your arrangements. Enjoy the fresh scent while you’re working with evergreens, knowing that it is fleeting.
To keep your home smelling like fresh-cut pine boughs, pick up a scented spray at a gift shop. Don’t think of it as cheating. Think of it as enhancing nature’s bounty.
English ivy, Boston ivy, and Virginia creeper are common ground covers and can also be found growing up trees and phone poles. They make a lovely addition to any arrangement but must be kept in water, or they will dry out quickly. Use florist’s water vials to keep them fresh in wreaths, swags, or garlands, and check the water frequently.
Just because it’s winter, don’t forget flowers when thinking of unique ideas for your decorations. Flowers lift our spirits throughout the year and are especially welcome during the hectic holiday season. Whether from the florist or the supermarket, no matter what colors you choose, adding flowers to your home will make you smile even on the dreariest winter day.
Make a jar of water enhanced with floral preservative to use for the flowers in your decorations. Place individual or small groups of flowers in a florist’s water vial, and check the water daily.
Add the finishing touch to winter decorations with groups of three bright red flowers tied together with holiday ribbon. Space them evenly around a wreath, or place them at intervals along an evergreen swag or garland. Add them to vases or pots of evergreens, twigs, and cones.
Carry the look throughout the house by laying flowers on a holiday tree, along a bookcase, or tucked into the china cabinet.
Place individual flowers in beautiful glass ornaments filled with water, and hang them from the tree, the chandelier, or a holiday swag. Fill a crystal bowl with golden glass ornaments, and tuck red flowers around or in the ornaments. Or, fill the bowl with white flowers, and accent it with deep green ornaments.
For a festive centerpiece, fill a silver bowl with blue glass ornaments studded with white roses.
Nothing goes together quite as well as candles and winter. But please, do not use candles around fresh greens. Instead, try vases of fresh flowers and candles of different heights together on a sideboard, hutch, or entry table. Then, to take the mood from festive to magical, stand a mirror behind the arrangement to enhance the glow. Turn down the lights, stand back, and enjoy.
Winter doesn’t have to be dull. Step outside on a sunny winter day and gather some fun and interesting branches, twigs, berries, and cones. Then come inside and play with them over a mug of something warm and sweet. ISI