Celebrating the seasons – Our favorite plants for holiday décor


By Mary Beth Riddle

Landscape displays have come a long way from pumpkins and poinsettias.  Whether using your garden to show allegiance to a favorite football team or to brighten the holiday season, decorating your garden with strategic plantings and accessories is simple and easy to achieve.  Plus, with a little imagination, carefully chosen plants and strategic lighting make every late fall and winter garden a little bit more fun.

The use of plants and vegetation to celebrate holidays has a long tradition. Harvest-themed wreaths and cornucopia displays, predecessors to modern Thanksgiving decorations, have been used to decorate our homes as part of our cultural rituals expressing abundance.

Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas and is often called the Christmas Rose.  Along with pine trees, favorite plant displays include the using evergreens (to symbolize strength and fortitude through winter), holly, mistletoe, ivy, red amaryllis, cyclamen, and Christmas cactus, with magnolia leaves, sprays of berries, branches and pinecones.

Other staging favorites include using garlands, baskets, dried flowers, gourds, hay bales, dry moss and decorative iron and stone elements for texture and interest.

As the year comes to a close, there are spectacular plant choices for your landscape canvas.  Whether a few pops of color or big and bold, the hues of late fall are never better showcased than during the holiday season.  Many summer annuals have faded by this time and cool weather annuals provide the perfect solution.  Consider dianthus, daisies, snapdragons, marigolds, pansies, primroses and violas, or foliage plants like ornamental cabbages, crotons, grasses, kale and herbs to add variety and texture to the gaps in your landscape.  Chrysanthemums, with their red, orange, bronze, yellow and white blooms, work particularly well as do cyclamens, Torch lilies, red ti plants, sedum, and coleus.

With the holiday season in full swing, it is easy to overlook that this time of year is also an ideal planting season and full of opportunities to give gardens a head start for spring. November is the perfect time to plant bare root roses, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs, and trailing ivy in containers. For homeowners and cooks, it is also a great time to prepare perennial vegetable beds and culinary gardens.

Remember to aerate and condition your lawn, clear fallen leaves, prune deciduous trees and shrubs while they are dormant, and move container grown specimen plants to a sheltered location to protect them from heavy rain, wind and frost.

About the author:  Mary Beth Riddle is a veteran horticulturist and Client Relations Manager at Lambert Landscape Company.  Contact her at mriddle@lamberts.net

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