Holiday Decorations from Mother Nature

December 10, 2011 6:46:38 AM PST
Benjamin Carroll, Senior Horticulturalist for the Chicago Botanic Garden, joined ABC7 with ideas for making holiday decorations from Mother Nature.

Making your own holiday decorations can fun and inexpensive. If you are creative and keep your eyes open you would be surprised how many natural materials you can find in your garden.

Even if you do not have a garden you can source natural materials at your local garden center, do-it-yourself store or even at the grocery store. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to use natural materials to create some holiday cheer:

Winter containers

Breathe new life into your garden pots by filling them with greens and other 'found' plant materials that will look great throughout the winter season. Look for plants in your garden that are sturdy and will stand up to a heavy snow. Some common plants that do well in containers are redstem dogwoods, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses but there are many others and you can experiment to see what looks good to you.

Willow Wreath

Willow branches are very flexible and can easily be shaped into a circle. Add branches one at a time until you get a wreath that is the thickness you like. Then decorate with a few dried hydrangea flowers, some pachysandra or even some store bought fruit like apples, oranges or pears.

Cranberry Garland

Thanksgiving is over but you can still find bags of fresh cranberries at the store. String them together to create a beautiful fresh red garland for the tree. These strands of jewel-like berries are also wonderful when draped around for extra color.

Yule Log

The Yule log has less to do with Christmas and more to do with celebrating the winter solstice. A log, often with candles in it, symbolizes the burning of a 'Yule log' in a fireplace to recognizing the shortest day of the year. A log nestled among fresh greens, fruits and nuts looks great and when the candles are burning and can add a wonderful holiday touch to you home.


Homemade pomanders not only look festive but also introduce the smells of oranges and cloves to your home. They are easy to make and kids love to create their own designs. Pomanders can be hung with a ribbon or even just placed around a tabletop decoration.

Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden's website at

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