December 23, 2012

Christmas Arrangements on a Budget

White Nandina domestica berries along with fresh greens from the cold greenhouse including white Camellia buds, variegated Osmanthus and magnolia combine with garden picked greens and one $6 bunch of red carnations to make most of my Holiday arrangements this year.
 It's all started to look as if this Holiday season would be nearly perfect, but  as things would have it, it's been anything but easy. With three weeks off from work, it seems like I've spent most of my time visiting hospitals, with both my dad and Joe in separate hospitals with Pneumonia, and I myself with bronchitis. It just isn't going away, but today, one day before the holiday and our family traditional Lithuanian dinner on Christmas Eve that we host, we decided that no matter what, we must haul ourselves out of bed and try to at least decorate the house with what we could find in the garden. This whole venture reminds me of how we used to decorate the house years ago, when dad would take out out into the woods with burlap rag bags to pick Prince's Pine and Gaultheria to make garlands with.

This year, my decor will be based around greenhouse greens, semi tropical and Asian greens such as Camellia, osmanthus and Nandina, as well as choice evergreens in the garden such as Chamaecyparis nootkatensis and other nice cedars. We have many varieties of holly, with yellow and red berries as well as olive, magnolia, pines and broadleaf evergreens. Together, and when combined with nice branches with buds like Stewartia with its cinnamon colored bark, and the graceful branching of Fothergilla, we have many arrangements and material for garlands. And best of all, everything was free, and natural. The only hint of red comes from some red carnations - one bunch from the market will spread across many arrangements for the house.

Various garden greens combine to make tasteful and authentic Holiday arrangements. Greens include Magnolia, Rhododendron, Camellia from the greenhouse. Cedar, Holly, Pinus Osmanthusm Boxwood, Fothergilla branches and Chamaecyparis.

Together, they make simple, 1940'a style arrangements that bring a very 'Irving Berlin'feel to the house.

It looks like holly, but Osmanthus which we grow in a tub in the cold greenhouse, takes trimming well ( we wait until Christmas to trim ours so that we can use the clippings in wreathes and arrangements).

Early sassanqua camellias continue to bloom in the cold greenhouse. This one is named 'Yuletide', and it's not hard to see why.

Magnolia leaves with cinnamon colored fuzzy backs, make a great addition to our table centerpiece which I will be working on tonight. I'm thinking of using a Della Robia style, with pineapple, fresh fruit like oranges, apples, pears, lemons and limes to see if that will work. My back up table theme is composed of tiny terrariums in Weck jars with boss, and tiny bottle brush trees, candles and mercury glass. I still have not decided. I have so little energy with his cold, that I may just forget about both! With 18 people coming to dinner tomorrow, I have plenty of other things to worry about! But experience is everything. I only wish I didn't have to throw it all together at the very last minute. 

Look around your yard, even out back, to see what you can find to pick. Birch bark, bamboo, a graceful pine branch - most anything can seem very festive once brought indoors.

Happy Christmas to all! An thanks for stopping by this past year!

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