Finding holiday greenery in your own backyard

Photo credit: Elaine Stevenson

Decorating with greenery is one of the oldest holiday traditions on Earth, but in the northern United States, it didn’t become commonplace until the 1800s. Not surprisingly, varieties of greenery used varied by region. Today, the materials available, either at your local garden center or on the internet are seemingly limitless. Still, I would encourage you to start in your own backyard. You might be surprised by what you find!

Green: Arborvitae, Boxwood, Cedar, Cryptomeria, Eastern Red Cedar (technically a juniper), Fir, Hemlock, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Laurel, Leyland Cypress, Magnolia (brown underside), Mistletoe, Nandina, Pine, Spruce and Yews. Note: Pine, Cedar and Fir tend to dry out slowly, consequently they last longer inside, while Hemlock, Spruce and many broadleafs are better for outside decorating.

Blue and Blue/Green: Blue Spruce, Eucalyptus, Juniper and Seeded Eucalyptus. Berries: Blue Muffin Viburnum, Highbush Blueberry and Juniper.

White: Baby’s breath, Dusty miller, Euonymus, Variegated Ivy and Variegated Boxwood. Berries: Mistletoe, Nandina ‘alba’ and Snowberry.

Yellow: Aucuba, Gold Euonymus, Goldthread Juniper and Yellow Twig Dogwood.

Red/Burgundy/Pink: Leucothoe, Mahonia and Red Twig dogwood. Berries: Amethyst or Magic Berry Coralberries, Chokeberry, Cotoneaster, Holly and Winterberry.  Note: Holly berries may turn black if frozen. Some berries are poisonous e.g. Yews, some Hollies and Mistletoe. Keep them out of reach of small children and pets.

Herbs: Bay, Lavender, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.Dried materials: Apples, Citrus fruit, Cones, Hydrangeas, Lotus pods, Nuts, Pears, Pomegranates, Straw flowers, Sweet gum balls and Yarrow.

Note: Dried Hydrangeas retain whatever color they were when you cut them. So, with a little advance planning, you can have an assortment of colors all from the same plant.