Festive Flair

Add fresh greens and dried botanicals to holiday decor for a garland like no other.

| December/January 2002

  • Arrange a bunch of dried flowers and fresh herbs and twist a piece of floral wire tightly around; leave a tail of wire to attach to the garland.
    Photography by Anybody Goes

One of the most elegant and merry of all the holiday decorations is that of fresh greens draped around a room. A garland’s graceful length and flow delights the eye and wraps a doorway, mantle, or staircase like a green ribbon on a present. Ornamenting those fresh greens with fragrant herbs, flowers, spices, berries, fruit, and ribbons transforms the decoration into a medieval-like tapestry of colors and textures.

Unlike holiday wreaths or swags, which are often readily available already ornamented in a variety of styles, it’s rare to find ornamented garlands. Rarer still is finding garlands decorated with fragrant herbs, like rosemary and thyme’s warm scents that are perfect for the holiday season. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to create one of these ornamental garlands yourself.

Getting started

To make the garland, you will need pruners, heavy-gauge floral wire, fine to medium floral wire, wire cutters, and depending upon the choice of plant materials, a hot glue gun.

Before starting, decide where you’d like to place the finished garland to select the appropriate length. A 6- to 7-foot length is about right for laying on the mantle of most fireplaces—which is a great center-stage spot for the garland. The warmth from the fireplace also helps release the scents of the aromatic herbs.

Select pre-made fresh green garlands for the garland base (most often available as pine roping) or a pre-made garland that is composed of a variety of greens, especially shorter needle varieties, since they make the garland sturdier. If you choose to use pine roping, augment this base with sturdy wire to add stems of one or more different evergreens along its length, such as cedar, cypress, juniper, spruce, magnolia, or fir. Adding these greens to pine roping not only gives the garland more heft for wiring materials onto it, it also makes the garland more fragrant and visually richer in textures and colors.

If you’re lucky enough to have a variety of evergreens in your yard, you can use fallen branches or prune some for your garland. If not, many grocery stores, florists, or garden centers sell bunches of mixed greens perfect for bulking up a pine garland.

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