Magnolia With a Twist

Use Mother Nature's creations to decorate your mantel for the holidays. This fresh look is easy and gorgeous.
Charlie Thigpen
Magnolia With a Twist
Jean Allsopp

Before tinsel, glass ornaments, electricity, and strings of flashing lights, people depended on materials from their yards and nearby forests for decorations. Rediscover these timeless outdoor treasures.

Making the Cut
No matter where you live in the South, you can find trees or shrubs for seasonal cuttings. In the Upper South, you might have boxwoods and soft-needled trees such as white pines, spruce, Virginia pines, Canadian hemlocks, and Carolina hemlocks. Other regions produce evergreen magnolias, broad-leaved hollies, windmill palms, Leyland cypress, mahonias, and wax myrtles. These common landscape plants look great in the garden and make beautiful holiday decorations.

When harvesting greenery from your garden, always use sharp clippers or loppers. Don't just clip on one side of a plant. Try to shape your trees and shrubs as you prune.

Tip: If you don't have any evergreens in your yard, you can get the trimmings--sometimes at no charge--from garden centers or roadside stands that sell Christmas trees. To keep cuttings fresh, place the cut ends in a bucket of water until ready to use. Keep them out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.