Planting Edmonds: Evergreens — from landscape to holiday décor

Planting Edmonds is a monthly column written by and for local gardeners.

Evergreens are so rewarding to grow in the landscape. They provide structure, texture and all-season interest outdoors, but they are also perfect for decorating when you bring them indoors. They are fragrant and slow to wither.

The cypress tree Gold Thread is a fun plant for the way it hangs in the landscape, and its chartreuse color brightens any winter arrangement.

Red twig dogwood (cornus alba), pictured below, provides colorful interest in all four seasons. It is native and drought tolerant. I love putting it as the thriller/tall part of outdoor pot arrangements at Christmastime.

It looks great with a big red bow and some berries from Nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo.

I love this member of the cypress family (callitropsis nootkanensis) for the color and texture of its beautiful bark. Its foliage is fragrant and hangs well in arrangements.

Another excellent plant to grow and use in arrangements is the rhododendron. This is “President Roosevelt,” which has lovely pink flowers in spring. Its variegated foliage brightens everything around it.

I had fun with the white football mums I got at Safeway (below), and the arrangement lasted for weeks. It’s better not to use floral foam as it’s not eco-friendly, but if you choose the right size and shape of foliage for your vases, it works fine without foam.

The evergreen branches hang on the sides. Start from the outside and work your way in. You can wire the pine cones and stick them in, then just keep filling the center, adding the taller items last.

Branches look great as the thriller in a winter arrangement. These are from my winter hazel shrub which blooms with yellow creamy flowers after the holidays. To help woody stems absorb water, cut them at an angle and split the ends up a couple of inches.

This was an easy swag to add to the bird feeder with a snippet of President Roosevelt wired to a piece of cypress. Next time I plan to add a bow; so simple.

Adding fairy lights is another fun and easy thing to do. Cut and bend a branch, line it with lights, set it in a small glass dish, then add a flower and water. Voila!

One of the more traditional ways to use evergreens for the holidays is in wreaths. The tradition came about from early Europeans: When they trimmed the tree, they used the extra branches to make a wreath. The evergreens represented resilience since they survived the cold winters, and the wreath represented eternity as the shape has no end.

Edmonds Floretum Garden Club members make a variety of interesting wreaths for sale, incorporating greens, pinecones, hydrangeas, leaves and many other interesting items from their gardens. This year’s wreath sale is Saturday, Dec. 2, and you can expect the wreaths and swags to sell out quickly. Details coming soon.

Another very simple idea is to buy a wreath and lay it in your birdbath. You can add a large ornament or virtually any other piece of decor.

If your hanging baskets are empty this time of year, here’s another idea that’s easier than it looks. Start by inserting the pre-cut evergreen pieces, and then it’s a lot like decorating a tree. Add solar or battery-powered lights, pinecones and ornaments.

Birch branches and logs are often available, as beetles have damaged or killed a lot of trees in our area. You can also purchase birch logs at local nurseries. The arrangement below was made by Ann Herman, a member of Floretum. She purchased the birch vessel at a nursery and uses it for a new arrangement each year.

When you make arrangements inside wood or a pumpkin, take care not to get the inside wet. For small pumpkins or apples, you can recycle vitamin or medicine containers to hold the water. Putting a piece of burnt wood or charcoal in the bottom also helps prevent decay. Be sure to put something under it to protect your table or tablecloth.

The centerpiece below may last through the holidays if misted occasionally to keep the needles from drying. This started with a birch branch, but any branch will do.

My friend and I made these from a store-bought artificial garland and added fresh greens by twisting a wire around to hold them. Then we wired in the holly and added spray-painted salal and white berries. The last things added were the white birds and candles beside the centerpiece. It’s safer to keep the candles in glass separate from the evergreens.

The next two projects are easy: a simple swag made of two cedar branches plus variegated holly with berries. Wire the pieces together in the middle, tie a bow to cover the wired section if you like and hang over an outdoor porch light or mailbox. Include a note or gift for the mail person and you will make his or her day.

Below is a small and easy arrangement. Sometimes you can find ornaments that are flat on the bottom. If you use a round ornament, you can use clay or putty to hold it in place on a doily. Fill with water and use small sprigs and berries to fill. It takes very little greenery to make these.

Here is another, smaller arrangement for a baby shower or the holiday. Using any small container, add greens, then the berries and smaller sprigs. You could add little ornaments or a Star of David for Hanukkah. These were made by Floretum member Priscilla Krueger.

My hope is you see something here that inspires you. The holidays are upon us; now is the time to start gathering ideas as we prepare for cooler days and more time indoors.

— By Val Taylor

Val Taylor had her first garden when she was 11 years old. She grew up in the Skagit Valley and spent a lot of time working with fruits, vegetables, and bulbs on local farms. After college, career, and small kids, she attended the master gardening program in Seattle and volunteered for several years. She now belongs to five different Northwest gardening organizations. She is passionate about gardening and enjoys sharing.

  1. These are lovely. I love the Edmonds Floretum Club here in Edmonds. They are talented and they are a very nice group of people.
    I loved these ideas above all of them are original and I would display any of these in my home or my yard and love to give as gifts too. Thank you, Val Taylor.

  2. Great article, Val! So many excellent, creative ways to enjoy the seasons’ bounty that you’ve shared here…Bravo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.