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Nature Notes


Nature Notes

Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is a horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

Fresh Holiday Greens

This is the time of year that many people think about pruning some of their conifers and broad leaved evergreens for use as indoor holiday decorations. It is an ancient custom that began when people first marveled that plants could stay green outdoors throughout the cold winter months. They assumed the plants possessed magical powers and that by bringing the greens indoors they would also bring magic and good luck to their household.

Today we enjoy the beauty of greens and the wonderful fragrance they provide in our homes. Many greens can be cut from shrubs already growing in the yard.  Balsam fir, white pines, cedar, hollies, magnolias, and viburnums can provide interesting texture, color and fragrance for indoor holiday decorations. This time of year is a good time to do some outdoor pruning as it will not encourage new growth in winter. Take cuttings in several areas of a shrub or conifer to make sure that the shrub’s natural look is maintained. 

Don’t forget to look for interesting seed pods and pine cones while cutting the greens. Magnolia pods, are very decorative and last a long time indoors. Bright red berries can be found on the female hollies. Interesting seed pods are found on many of the viburnums. 

If you need some inspiration come take a walk through the conifer garden and the shrub border at Lasdon Park. The sights and smells will be a reminder of why we treasure our evergreen trees and shrubs, especially as the holidays arrive.