Adorned for the holidays, front yards and entryways bring cheer and smiles to neighbors and passers-by. This season, shun the robotic reindeer and inflatable Santa. Instead, create custom decorations with nursery, craft store and on-hand items.
Decide on a decorative theme and colors, then purchase coordinating wired and plain ribbons, ornaments and lights to carry the theme out the door and into the yard. Then look around the house, yard and storage for inspiration"¦ items like decorative and terra-cotta pots, old bikes, sleds and outdoors lights can do double duty for the holiday.
Carefully chosen evergreens in containers can be easily dressed for the holidays.
"One year we took trimmings from other plants and tucked them into the evergreens," says Tim Elbert, owner of Four Seasons Nursery in Central Point. "It's free, and so easy that kids can do it." He likes adding red nandina, variegated holly sprigs and Escallonia flowers to the dense foliage.
"We like to take nice evergreens, put them in pots and decorate them for the various holidays by changing the colored bows, ornaments and ribbon. It costs very little, since a plant and a pot will last for years and they're easy to decorate with minimal work and cost," he says.
He recommends evergreens like boxwood, fast-growing 'Tuscan Blue' rosemary and arborvitae, (Thuja occidentalis 'Degroot's Spire') for its dark green, fan-like foliage.
Find plants that create their own holiday interest, like northwest native snowberries with their white and light pink berries. Tim Elbert, owner of Four Seasons Nursery in Central Point, has a favorite: the new variety Scarlet Pearl (Symphoricarpos 'Scarlet Pearl') which bears dark pink fruit.
His favorite winter plant is the contorted filbert (Corylus avellana). Thriving in full sun or part shade, its "wild, squiggly branches and tremendous skeletal texture look great wrapped with lights," says Elbert. Its green catkins (male flowers) elongate and turn yellow in spring.
Let the front door serve as a focal point, surrounding it with red and greenery. Top the door with a homemade evergreen swag. Cut a piece of rope as big as the doorway and attach wired evergreen stems, picks, and wired pinecones. Place a large red bow in the center.
Transforming paper bags into luminarias is one way to spend time instead of money on holiday décor. Gather enough small brown paper bags to line a walkway, driveway or landscape feature. Use a craft knife to carefully cut festive designs on them. Use seasonal cookie cutters or coloring book pictures as templates. Add some 'snow' using a hole punch. Place them every few feet and put a few handfuls of sand in them to weigh them down. Light them with battery-operated tea lights or small candles ensconced in a sturdy glass jar.
Light it up
Strands of colorful lights add a twinkling touch to evergreens and holiday vignettes. Jennifer Cameron, sales associate at Medford's Craft Warehouse, touts this season's bright new LED lights. "They're long lasting, weather-resistant and safer than regular lights since they stay cool to the touch and aren't glass," she says, "They also use less energy than traditional bulbs."
Prime and paint terra-cotta pots in holiday hues, spray on glue and roll in glitter. With additional glue attach sequins, faux gems or glass stones.
Fill empty pots with gazing balls or greenery and round, shiny ornaments.
These ideas are simple, hard to resist, and easy on the budget. This holiday season, enhance the neighborhood, brighten the yard and entertain the family by creating your own winter wonderland.