Decorating with Natural Elements

 Linden Hill Gardens Hours Special Holiday Hours

Wed. Dec. 17th through Wed. Dec. 24th



Decorating with Natural Elements 

Even during the bleak winter there is beauty and abundance still to be found in the garden. Natural materials can make tasteful and unique home décor during the holiday season and beyond. There is no need to be discouraged if you do not have an extensive amount of plants to collect materials from, using a tree branch with an interesting shape or a few sprigs of holly can be very distinctive. Pine cones and evergreen boughs are always attractive when grouped together.  Just a few select elements can be very subtle and elegant.  For example, one of my favorite arrangements was created when I filled a small vintage rectangular jar with water and added a solitary branch of winterberry. Here is a sprig  placed in a small decorative terracotta planter.

LHG holiday greenhouse

I will show you some of the plants we love to cut for decorating here at Linden Hill Gardens, and how to use them to compose a winter bouquet and simple, natural ornaments. If you see a particular element that you like, consider adding that plant to your garden. You will have many years of abundant cuttings to look forward to.

Jessica’s Tip: I try to do the collecting on a dry day, so that the plant materials are not soggy and therefore sturdier. This makes for easier formation of the arrangement.

For creating this type of centerpiece bouquet, you can fill an appropriate vase or jar with water and place this filled container inside of a decorative terracotta pot, or other vessel of your choice.campo pots2

Bu placing the arrangement in fresh water they will last quite a long time. For added dimension  and interest you can also scatter smaller discoveries, like pine cones, or a lotus pods  at the base of the centerpiece.

The ingredients with photos:

LeucothoeLeucothoe catesbaei ‘Compacta’







Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’ (Red Twig dogwood)








Buxus ‘Green Mountain’

(Green Mountain boxwood)





Rose of Sharon Seed Pods

Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)






Magnolia virginiana PodsMagnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia)




Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’

Magnolia buds(by cutting these branches, please note that you will have to sacrifice a few of next year’s flowers)






Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’ (Winterberry)








Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo)






Simply fill the vessel with the individual pieces of plant material, continuing to move around the container until reaching the desired fullness. When finished,  you will have a free form arrangement bursting with color and texture. Finished Holiday Arrangement

Magnolia ornament                         Natural ornament cardoon

To make simple and natural ornaments, use a seed pod or stalk, and tie upside down with a decorative ribbon or twine. Here I made one from the buds of a magnolia and one from the seed pod of a cardoon.


Also consider painting your pods, possibly by using red to accent brown indentations on a pod, or by spray painting the entire piece silver or gold.

Lotus pods painted and naturalHere is a natural lotus pod and a metallic one. If you use weatherproof paints these are a nice way to decorate outside tree limbs along a walkway.

Other ideas:

Put a bow on a bough! If you have evergreens, cut some branches, tie them together and attach a decorative bow. This arrangement always looks great on mailbox posts or front doors.

Simple containers of mixed boughs look very natural flanking a walkway. Holiday Bouquet

A lesson from Jerry- For extra protection and winter warmth,  you can make use any downed evergreen limbs, spruce or fir for example, to cover tender plants during extremely harsh temperatures.  Newly planted perennials and violas or pansies will surely appreciate your efforts.  This is a great use for discarded evergreen decorations after the holidays as well.

Amaryllis Appleblossom closeup

Stop by Linden Hill Gardens to ask questions or get design advice for your own arrangements.  We have a great selection of amaryllis ready to burst into full bloom for the holidays. leaf