Decorating with Native Evergreens in the South
Our first Christmas here I noticed it wasn’t just snow missing from our landscape. It hit me how much I had taken for granted being surrounded by spruce and fir trees. I mean it’s pretty easy to decorate for Christmas when half of the trees on your property are Balsam Firs. I cut my own tree, made some wreaths, and pranced through my little winter wonder land. Okay trudged through my winter wonder land.
West Virginia has been a little different though. There has been a few flurries but no true snow and we decided on a Norfolk Island Pine (you can find them on Amazon!) in place of a Christmas tree. We chose the tree because it will stay alive in a pot for years to come. I still want to bring in some greenery from our woodlands though.
Midst decorating I decided a list of southern evergreens that make awesome decor would be a really cool idea. So whether you’re a a northner transplanted farther south like me or a proud southerner you can find some homemade inspiration in this list.
P.S. I know that West Virginia is not really the south (for my New England friends WV was on your side in the Civil War) but I’m originally from a place close to the Canadian border. What do you expect?
These are probably the most widely available and commonly thought of. Even though firs may be the most popular pines are great for wreaths, garlands, and Christmas or Yule Trees. Plus their cones are great for decorations too and everyone knows what they look like! There are 15 varieties that I know of that grow on the east coast.
Around here we have Virginia Pine. You can find my tutorial for Pine needle tea here.
Magnolia may not be in common winter holiday images but I have no idea why. This DIY Magnolia Leaf Garland from Thistlewood Farm is absolutely stunning!
We don’t have Magnolia on our property but after seeing that garland I may have to plant some.
Magnolia trees have large, alternate, simple, and not toothed leaves. Their bark varies among species but they all have big showy flowers in the summertime.
Juniper & Cedar
Yes you can make gin but you can also make decorations! I lumped these guys together because they’re both part of the Cypress family and look pretty similar for decor purposes.
They can be identified by their scalelike leaves.
These conical trees with flat needles would make a great Yule or Christmas Tree. The branches are often drooping and the bark is dark or reddish brown and furrowed.
These trees are pretty for decor but unlike many conifers are poisonous if consumed. Keep this in mind if you have small children or animals.
Yew trees have flat needles extending down both sides of their twigs. Also unlike other conifers Yews do not have cones.
This is one of the quintessential holiday plants, “deck the halls with boughs of holly.” If it grows near you follow the song’s advice.
Holly can be a tree or shrub and has simple, alternate, and leathery leaves.
Periwinkle is actually an invasive species that was brought to North America as an ornamental. It was traditionally grown specifically for making wreaths and garlands. At least where I live there’s loads of it (plus its not native) so I feel totally comfortable harvesting loads of it.
Periwinkle is a creeping vine with glossy, ovate leaves.
Another holiday favorite Mistletoe has a long history in many cultures. The Victorians however are credited for really making the kissing thing popular.
Mistletoe is kind of weird plant. It’s hemiparisitic, meaning that it grows on another tree by penetrating a branch and stealing the tree’s nutrients and water. This time of year if you see a ball evergreen plant in deciduous tree you can be pretty sure it’s mistletoe.
**These are just a few that I know well and love. Wherever you are you can find ways to incorporate your local landscape into the holidays. Feel free to leave a comment telling us what species you decorated with!
You can find a lot of DIY decor ideas on Pinterest or check out my favorite wreath tutorial from Little Fall Creek. It’s made with 100% natural and free materials!
Please, please, please avoid plastic holiday decor. It wastes money and does nothing but harm the environment. Not a great a gift for future generations don’t you think?
For more Holiday Madness checkout these posts:
Gifts for Homesteaders to Share This Season
Celebrating the Solstice: A Tradition All Homesteaders Should Have
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