If you’re making tabletop and mantel decorations from evergreen branches, your own garden may have much to offer. Boughs of cedar, boxwood, fir, juniper, hemlock and spruce are handy for holiday projects, but first consider where to make the cuts.
Sometimes an overgrown shrub or tree is in need of trimming to balance its shape, and you may be able to use the branches you’ve removed during pruning. If an evergreen has good form and doesn’t require trimming, take branches from the back, where they won’t be missed, or from an interior branch that’s hidden behind the outermost foliage.
Trimming woody plants in spring or summer gives the cuts time to callous over, sealing out potential pathogens. When cuts are made to dormant wood in cold weather, a callous isn’t able to form and raw wood is left exposed. However, few disease organisms are present in near-freezing temperatures, and chances are you won’t have problems with infections.
Evergreen cutting garden
If you want a large amount of evergreen boughs each year, plan ahead and establish an evergreen cutting garden with plants expressly for this purpose. Irrigate and fertilize in spring to encourage maximum growth of stems and twigs that you can harvest in the cold months ahead.
Four especially fast-growing ornamental evergreen shrubs that provide colourful clippings are:
- ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Mountain’, Zone 5, 24 x 40 inches/60 cm x 1 m), dark green, glossy foliage with thick, upright form
- ‘Rheingold’ cedar (Thuja occidentalis ‘Reingold’, Zone 4, 5 x 5 feet/1.5 x 1.5 m), gold foliage with upright form
- ‘Sunkist’ cedar (Thuja occidentalis ‘Sunkist’, Zone 4, 7 feet x 40 inches/2 x 1 m), yellow foliage with upright form
- Globe blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’, Zone 4, 40 x 40 inches/1 x 1 m), powdery blue-grey needles in a densely packed dwarf form
More holiday ideas and inspiration