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Decorate like a Colonial with fresh greens, reds
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November has almost passed and Thanksgiving is over, but December ushers in another holiday season. And with the landscapes full of endless possibilities for holiday decorating, one can only look out of the window for an array of creative ideas.

Holiday decorating would not be complete without the use of fresh greenery.

Southerners have been decorating with greenery since the Colonial days. Churches in that time were decorated with large garlands of holly, ivy and mountain laurel. Pews and altars were covered with rosemary and bay scattered around for their fragrances. Homes were decorated simply with fresh greenery such as pine and cedar.

Today, decorating with fresh greenery is more popular than ever. Bringing the outdoors inside gives the home a fresh look and many wonderful natural scents to enjoy.

No need to venture out far. The first and best place to look for holiday greenery is your own landscape. Greenery is far fresher from your own yard and the varieties can be vast.

Many types of greenery can be used to decorate inside and outside of the home.

Pines, cedars and firs are good choices for indoor decorations since they dry out slowly in warm interior temperatures. White and Virginia pines, Deodar and Blue atlas cedar have excellent qualities for indoor use along with pleasing smells. Southern magnolias, holly, Leyland cypress and nandina are also excellent choices for holiday attire.

Some traditional types of decorations made with fresh greenery are garlands, swags and wreaths. Topiaries can be created as well. Tables, mantels and doorways can be spruced up with many different types of plants just outside the door.

Additions such as acorns, holly and nandina berries, dried hydrangea blooms, pine cones and nuts can be used to enhance the decor. These additions give color and textural interest to the decorations.

The most popular type of greenery in the home is the traditional Christmas tree. Make it a family tradition and go to a tree farm and cut your own. Several places are not too far away to do this.

Remember dried evergreens can become flammable if they come in contact with a heat source. Bring in fresh evergreens with flexible branches and needles. Avoid browning plants with dry tips. Never put greenery near a candle or fireplace.

Keep all of these decorations away from pets and children. Some berries can be toxic.

Also, don’t forget to add the traditional bold “red” holiday blooms for seasonal style and color. Display Christmas cactus, amaryllis, poinsettias, kalanchoe and cyclamen in groupings and add fresh greenery to the mix to create breathtaking displays.

These vibrant flowering plants brighten up your home and herald the season.

Place displays in high traffic spots for frequent viewing such as a kitchen window or entry table.

Thanksgiving has passed, but we still have so much for which to be thankful. You only have to look out the window at our beautiful winter landscape to see this.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or wcannon@hallcounty.org. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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