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December 06, 2011


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I have to say, I can't really outdo any of the above decorating ideas with natural materials...they all sound wonderful,including the cloved studded citrus fruits, which I also do. I do love to make seasonal bouquets...year round...but during the holidays, I gather evergreen and coned boughs, red berried branches, moss covered twigs, etc. I then arrange a bouquet in a water filled, white or green vase and intersperse it with sword fern fronds and set these around the house!!
They smell wonderful!!!


One of my favorite holiday decorations goes back to Christmas at my parents house: we'd gather whole cloves and oranges and push fragrant designs into the citrus. This year I gathered fallen boughs on my hikes and I have created a garland of them over my entry way. Using the existing nails from old lights, I stuck a cloved orange into each one, so they look like they are attached to the garland, but don't weigh it down. Kumquats also work well for smaller accents. On a non-freezing day (have we had many of those?) I can smell the orange and clove as I fiddle with my key.

Inside the house I have made a "tree scene" with my hardy rosemary. I brought it indoors and hung tiny little homemade origami cranes off of them, with a star on top.

Both decorations are nearly free and delight my nose! Plus, gathering all those boughs make a good excuse to go out tromping!

Marcia Wiley

Hi Val,
My woodsie yard has an abundant variety of greenery, cones, berries, etc. I bring a bunch onto the front porch and some goes into the house to dress the sideboard... the rest makes up a wreath for the inside door and a swag for the porch door... simple and cheery! (Have photos, but am not sure how to add them to this post?)
Cheers, Marcia

Brenda Kodama

Hi Val,
How do I decorate for the holidays on a budget? I gather up the gnomes, gargoyles and friends in the garden and bring them to my doorstep. There they sit and wait for me each day and they are sheltered from the cold winter rains. Together we celebrate the abundant joy that the garden brings.
Happy Holidays!

Gayle Birrell

Valerie, I like your keep-it-simple philosophy this season. I consider it my mission to bring inside something from my garden even in the depths of winter, favoring small arrangements like this one: Sprays of fir and cedar with snow berries and epimedium in an antique coca cola bottle (taking a cue from Morris Graves).


This does involve electricity, but very little! I put a coil of white lights in the bottom of two slim pale green pots next to my front door, top them with red twig dogwoods, and the gentle glow delights me when I come home each night.

Pat Reh

An old wire basket holds cedar fronds and red aronia berries which will provide color all winter long. The red is echoed in the new branches of the nearby Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’. See our Northwest Botanicals blog for a picture.

Lucinda Packard

Love this contest! I was spoiled when I lived in the PNW - gathering evergreens, moss, berries and beautiful twigs. Everything was so abundant! I used them to make bountiful centerpieces with a chunky candle in the center for gifts. Now I live in Denver and foraging is very sparse. I collect pine cones when I walk my dog and get the boughs at Whole Foods that they cut off the bottom of the Christmas trees. I fill all of my outside pots with these as we cant grow winter containers here (too much freeze/thaw). I had to pay to get some red twig dogwood but I do love those branches!
I bought some LED lighted branches w/ brown stems that look great with curly willow, some birds and leaf ornaments.
Enjoy your natural holiday!
PS. size 7 1/2 pleeeze!!


This is a great idea! There is nothing more beautiful than nature. Here is my entry, I love the boots!

Rosemary Washington

Ohh. I LOVE this contest!! I have little money, so I have lots of experience decorating with found, natural "ingredients." Here are a few, which I've described in my blog.

1)Handmade Money Plant Wreath (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/handmade-money-plant-wreath/)

2)Slender Rosemary Heart Wreath (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/slender-rosemary-heart/)

3)Redwood Wreath with Paper Flower Embellishments (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/this-years-homemade-wreath/)

4)Garlands of Money Plant Seeds (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/fall-decorating-idea-garlands-of-money-plant-seed-pods/)

5) Maple key mobiles (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/fall-decorating-idea-maple-key-mobiles/)

6) Comfort & Joy Word Mobile strung from a branch (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/comfort-joy/)

7) Gifts of lavender sachets -- from dried lavender harvested from my garden (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/lavender-sachets/)

8)Food gifts -- lavender cupcakes (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/lavender-cupcakes/)

9)Food gifts -- lavender-lemon bars (http://rosemarywashington.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/lavender-lemon-bars/)

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New Book: Petal & Twig

  • Petal & Twig Made The New York Times!
    From Anne Raver's review: "Valerie Easton, a Seattle-based garden writer, discusses the art of growing and arranging cut flowers in “Petal and Twig: Seasonal Bouquets With Blossoms, Branches and Grasses From Your Garden” (Sasquatch Books; $16.95). Written as an informal diary, with photographs of arrangements from her own garden, and tips on cutting and keeping flowers fresh, the book inspires ideas not only on what to grow but on how to combine (or not) those beauties inside. See review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/garden/new-books-on-growing-and-arranging-flowers.html?scp=1&sq=petal%20&%20twig%20anne%20raver&st=cse
  • The first reviews on the new book are in! From Publisher's Weekly:
  • "Open your eyes and keep it simple: those are two lessons Easton passes on from her own 40 years in the garden. When selecting and arranging flowers for bouquets, you needn’t spend a bundle buying a bundle of imported flowers.....The result will be unique, local, imaginative, and inexpensive. Color photos throughout illustrate and inspire."

In the News

  • Montreal Blogger Reviews "A Pattern Garden"
    I was so pleased to find that "A Pattern Garden" is still being reviewed...check out Allan Becker's generous review on his Garden Guru blog.. I felt like Allan really understood what I was working towards in that book....he writes...."There is a delightful abstract quality to this publication. In it, the author takes good garden design to a higher, more spiritual level. Instead of discussing the aesthetic and scientific elements of design, as so many traditional garden design books do, she focuses on the role played in garden design by archetypal ideas - a.k.a. patterns - that reference the longings of human beings. These pleasure and comfort-rooted ideas are those that inspire designers to create gardens that are satisfying beyond their beauty." see more at http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/journal/valerie-easton
  • Planting art
    Check out this interview with Val in the Chicago Tribune on using art in the garden...

The New Low Maintenance Garden

  • Reviews Are In....
    "Over the years, countless books have espoused a low-maintenance approach to gardening. None have been as engaging, practical, or inspiring as this latest of Easton's contributions to the gardener's bookshelf,"
    - Pacific Horticulture magazine, Jan/Feb/Mar 2010

    "A handy guide to a garden you can raise without a corresponding increase in your blood pressure..handsome and informative...."
    - Metropolitan Home, Dec. 2009

    "This book is an invaluable addition to the garden library – destined to be a classic for many years to come."
    - Garden Design Online

Photo Credits

  • The banner and portrait photos were taken by Jacqueline Koch; all other photos by Val Easton unless otherwise credited.


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