Garden Cuttings for the Prettiest Winter Decor

The winter garden may seem quiet, but it's filled with all-natural decorations.

Making Christmas decoration from Rosehip, pine cones and fir branches
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Most of us like to bring some cheer into our homes over the festive season. For many, that involves a Christmas tree. But unless your tree is a living one, and your decorations are all-natural and plastic-free, this is not the most sustainable of choices.

Plastic Christmas trees and decorations come at a huge environmental cost. And real, cut trees from mono-crop plantations are, unfortunately, not that great either.

Living trees and other living plants (like poinsettia, "paperwhite" narcissus, and succulents, for example) can be excellent options to brighten up a winter home.

But why not consider plants to cut and bring indoors for decoration? You might be able to find some excellent options growing in your own garden, or in the surrounding area. Pruning a few branches or taking a few cuttings here and there won't do much harm to the plants. And the material you take can brighten your inside environment over the holiday season.

Let's take a look at some of the plants you can find or grow in your garden that will provide cut material for holiday and winter displays.

Conifer Branches

Christmas fireplace decorated with fir branches, candles and a garland. Close-up. Selecive focus
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The first and perhaps most obvious answer is to stop bringing trees indoors and instead content yourself with some of their branches. Conifer branches with their deep green hues are perfect for a traditional mid-winter feeling. They can be used to make wreaths or garlands. They can be popped in a vase or other container to make a mini-tree to decorate. Or simply spread abundantly over windowsills, mantles, table centers, or other surfaces along with other plants on this list.

Consider the cones too. These can also be wonderful additions to a Christmas display.

Just take some branches off the trees rather than cutting the whole tree down, and they can continue to do their carbon sequestering work.

Holly

Holly with berries
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Another traditional choice for Christmas decorations is holly. This is a classic component of Christmas wreaths and its lush, dark green leaves and bright red berries definitely bring some sense of life and color into your home.

Of course, for lush evergreen leaves, holly is not the only option. Any evergreen leaves and the pruned branches of many other evergreen shrubs could also be brought into your home.

Ivy

English ivy wreath, circle frame, background image
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The traditional companion for holly, and another well-known Christmas plant on its own, ivy is a great option for decoration. It can be strung along banisters, or across a mantlepiece, artfully draped around picture frames, or added to traditional wreaths or table center type displays. You could also use ivy-like strands of tinsel, perhaps intertwined with some delicate LED lights.

Pyracantha

Pyracantha firethorn
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If you love the splash of red that holly berries can provide, then you will also love using pyracantha berries and branches in Christmas decoration. Pyracantha berries can also be bright red, or they can veer towards yellow or orange hues. You can cut the branches and use them whole, or gather the berries to string on wire or thread for garlands and decorative hoops. You can also use these colorful berries to fill small jars or vases. Or use them individually as miniature baubles on a bunch of branches or a small arrangement as an alternative to a tree.

Cotoneaster

Red berries
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Cotoneaster is another plant with vibrant, glossy green leaves and lovely red berries that can look wonderful alongside some of the other options mentioned above. Like holly and pyracantha, cut branches from these plants can also last for a good long while indoors.

Christmas Box (Sarcococca confusa)

Close-up image of the beautiful winter flowering Sarcococca confusa white flowers
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For those who like a splash of snowy white amid the red and green, Sarcococca confusa branches are another great option. They come into bloom with their delicate white flowers in December and January, and can make you feel like spring has come early.

Branches With Rose Hips

small gift parcels and rosehip branches on a rustic wooden table against a vintage wall with blurred bokeh lights, autumn or christmas decoration with copy space
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Plants do not necessarily have to be evergreen to make great winter decorations inside your home. Bare branches can also look very attractive and can be hung with baubles or other natural or reclaimed decorations instead of a tree. Roses can offer branches with baubles ready attached – in the form of rose hips.

Many other bare branches can work well, from straight whips of ash or willow, to contorted hazel stems or branches. Twigs with colorful lichens and mosses, or interesting bark or coloration can also be interesting, like paperbark maple and dogwood, for example.

Dusty Miller (Silver Ragwort)

Top view of Silver colored dusty miller plant
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One truly beautiful plant that might survive even through the winter (depending on your climate zone) is silver ragwort – also known as Dusty Miller. This silvery plant looks like it has been dusted with frost. It will also dry well and look great amongst the rich greens and reds of the plants mentioned above.

Silver Dollar Plant (Lunaria)

Little pods with seeds of Lunaria
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Lunaria (Honesty) will often retain its silvery moon or coin-like seed casings even into the winter months. And these can also look magical hung on branches, or scattered between other foliage fronds.

Dried Hydrangea Blooms

Still life with books and flowers
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Finally, a range of dried flowers can also work very well to bring nature indoors over the festive season. Hydrangea blooms are very easy to dry, and are commonly grown. So if you have some hydrangea in your garden, consider bringing the blooms indoors to dry out and using them in your Christmas wreaths and decorations.

Of course, these are just some of the many options a winter garden can offer. So before you go out and buy, take a look in your own backyard to see what decoration options it might offer.

View Article Sources
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  2. Rideout, James W., and Laura F. Overstreet. "A Survey Of Fertility Practices, Soil Fertility Status, And Tree Nutrient Status On Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Farms." Communications In Soil Science And Plant Analysis, vol 35, no. 5-6, 2004, pp. 631-647., Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1081/css-120030348