Spruce up your home with winter greens

Evergreens pack a nice punch of interest in the garden landscape. They provide a pop of green foliage in the winter when everything else in the landscape is without leaves or winter interest. For this gardener though, evergreens are more than just for landscape use. Evergreens are a source of greens for holiday ­decorating. I plant extra evergreens in my ­landscape, just to fulfill my holiday decorating obsession.

Indoors and outdoors, evergreen can be used to spruce up areas like window boxes, containers and front doors, as well as indoor spots like the fireplace mantle or staircase railing.

Some of the common evergreen needled species that hold up well as cut greens include white pine, ­junipers, yew, cedars, firs and spruce – all fairly common in most home ­landscapes. Broadleaf species like holly, magnolia or boxwood are excellent choices as well. Don’t fret though if your landscape is ­lacking, many local garden centers and ­florists have cut greens available for purchase ­during the holiday season.

A good rule of thumb to follow when harvesting cut greens is to never remove more than one-third of the plant material or branch on a particular plant. The goal should be to maintain a nice looking shrub or tree. Think about removing foliage from various parts of the plant with the objective of making it look like no foliage was removed at all. That evergreen hanging onto your property from the neighbors, can look like nothing was removed at all with the right skillful pruning!

We commonly think of evergreens for use in wreaths, which is a great way to utilize the greens, but there are many other uses for cut evergreens. Outdoors, evergreens can be used to spruce up last season’s containers. Simply remove the dead foliage from your fall or summer containers and insert your cut evergreens into the remaining soil. The soil will hold the greens in place and allow you to create an arrangement in whatever shape you desire. Branches, like willow or birch, can be a great addition to add some height to the container.

Swags, garlands, kissing balls or centerpieces can be created with evergreens and placed outdoors or indoors as decoration. If indoors, the excellent fragrance of the evergreens can be fully enjoyed. If they remain outdoors, they will stay fresh all season.

Evergreens by nature are a very long-lasting green, but there are a few tips to make those greens hold up well throughout the season. If the greens need to be stored prior to use, placing them in a bucket of water or cardboard box in a cool location is the best way to prevent them from drying out quickly.

Before bringing the greenery inside, you can also soak them in water overnight to rehydrate them. Once in place indoors, try to keep the greens out of the sunlight and away from heat, and greens can be spritzed ­regularly with water to help them remain hydrated.