Using Fresh Holiday Greens
Using Fresh Holiday Greens
Designed by Brenda Hyde
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If at all possible you will want to keep them away from the south side of the house, where the sun is direct and can get pretty toasty, even in the winter. This will dry them out sooner.
If you are using greens inside, a 65 or 70 degree home will be much better than warmer temperatures. Place them away from heat ducts or anywhere that you can actually feel the heat blowing. Again, direct sun is not a good thing for holiday greens.
If you are having a holiday open house it may be better to wait and buy your greens very close to the date of the party if possible. Another thing that may help is misting your greens lightly with water. You can also check out preservatives that can be sprayed onto the wreaths and garlands to help them keep longer as well.
Balsam, Jupiter, Cedar, Pine, and Fir greens do have a low level of toxic qualities. Do not let your pets or children chew on any part of the greens. Mistletoe and holly are quite toxic and should be kept away from pets and children at all times.
Poinsettias have been rumored to be seriously poisonous for years and years, but actually have a very low toxicity. Still, it is much better to keep them out of reach. Over the years I've felt it's better to be safe than sorry and I've kept all greens, berries and plants out of reach.
One frugal way to use greens is to place all the "trimmings" from your fresh tree in a window or porch box. Arrange them nicely and attach a red bow to the front. You can also do this with any pine trees in your yard that need a trimming. It's easy to arrange them in porch or windowboxes as well as baskets on the front porch. Include a few pinecones and you'll have a pretty holiday display!
Holly has long been used during the winter days by the Celts during winter solstice and the Romans to ward off evil. The early church used holly to symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus during the crucifixion. Regardless of it's meaning through the ages, holly is a striking plant with it's shiny dark green leaves and bright red berries.
Using fresh holly indoors is a traditional holiday look that never goes out of style. If the stems are kept moist they will last about a week indoors. It's best to put them up right before a party or open house for the freshest look. Outdoors they will remain nice even without being kept moist for several weeks. Do note that that holly berries are toxic to children and animals so don't decorate where they can reach or grab the greens.
For the best holly, cut the branches with the most berries in the afternoon and keep them about 12-15 inches long. Store them in a cool room till you are ready to decorate but DO NOT let the holly freeze because the berries could turn black.
If you have enough holly, it's really festive to create a large arch over a door by starting at the bottom of the door and going up and over the top of the door. You can wire in white and red roses or apples for a pretty look too. Do this same thing over a fireplace mantle or a very large picture window. If you don't have enough holly, mix it with pine boughs, magnolia leaves or other greens.
Kissing balls were very popular in Victorian times. Using apples or potatoes they inserted greens all around the fruit or vegetables until it was covered and then hung it with a ribbon above a doorway. You can do the same thing with a Styrofoam ball or a round wire frame that you like with moss. Use holly or other greens, and silk ribbon attached and hung after tying it into a bow at the top.
Though holly is a traditional holiday green, rosemary was just as traditional until the 20th Century when it fell out of favor as a popular green. The smell is so festive! Sprigs of rosemary can be placed in your wreaths and garlands for a touch of aromatherapy and as a symbol of friendship and remembrance. Even if you don't grow your own, rosemary "trees" are easy to find this time of year and can be used as a tabletop decorations. Don't forget to snip it into your soups and poultry dishes as well!