Decorate for the holidays, from the outside in

holiday seasonCold temperatures shouldn’t keep you from using outdoor items to create fresh arrangements for inside.

David Pippin, a Richmond floral designer and curriculum writer for Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom, has some fresh ideas for using items from your garden or yard in festive arrangements. Pippin specializes in floral arrangements and garden consultations and has been the floral designer for the Executive Mansion of Virginia for almost five years.

“There are a lot of photos of arrangements online,” Pippin shared. “Find something you like, and try to copy it. Experiment with a few sprigs in small containers to get started, put it on a windowsill and enjoy it,” he suggested.

Pippin also emphasized the importance of keeping arrangements in water-tight containers, and he recommended mixing things up by using interesting containers.

His other primary advice: Change the water regularly, at least once a week or when it starts to smell. Always keep the foliage above the water, or fresh items will break down faster. “Also, if your arrangement is not in a water-holding container or foam, it will dry up immediately,” Pippin noted.

When creating winter arrangements, he noted, broad and needleleaf evergreens such as arborvitae and Leyland cypress work well and will last one to two weeks. Pines, cedars and spruces also are beautiful, Pippin said.

“A fun thing to do is go to a Christmas tree lot and buy bundles of cut branches if you have none at home,” he suggested. “The branches can make a wonderful arrangement.”

Consider adding your own decorations such as ribbon, ornaments and other doo-dads to make your winter arrangement feel more festive, Pippin said.

You also can incorporate dried flowers into an arrangement. Hydrangea or Celosia make great dried blooms.

If you want to display a fresh wreath on your door this holiday season, be sure not to bake it in the process. “The items may dry up if your door faces the west,” Pippin warned.

Keeping a wreath wet will help it stay fresher longer, and wreath rings of floral foam will hold water.

If you are buying a fresh wreath or making one without using something that will allow it to stay in water, consider waiting until Dec. 15 to buy or display it.

“As soon as you buy or make the wreath, keep it wet by misting it with a water bottle,” Pippin directed

“Try to keep the wreath out of direct sunlight, and continue to mist it regularly when you hang it, if it won’t make a huge mess. It should last about two weeks.”

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