Having a “Real” Green Holiday

119While artificial greens, trees and wreaths provide value for your dollar because they can be used year after year, they are largely made from plastics and other petroleum based products. And while there are some situations in which I think they are preferable- for example on a dining table or other surface where you may be concerned about sap or scratching, for the most part, with a little care, real greenery can be used in most places. If you are concerned about sap or scratching, consider putting a layer of waxed paper or other protection down underneath of the greens.

Real Christmas greens, trees, and wreaths are renewable resources. Trees are not cut down to harvest the branches used for wreaths, for example. Instead, around 12 to 18 inches of the branches are cut off or “tipped” and the branches continue to grow year after year. Tipping trees is like pruning your shrubbery- it’s a necessary part of the growth process and the branches grow back.

If you are worried about keeping greenery fresh indoors, particularly if you use a woodstove to heat your home, then there’s a trick for that too. Use an application of Wilt-Pruf to help keep your live and cut greens from drying out in our high desert climate. Wilt-Pruf is an anti-dessicant which seals the moisture into whatever it is used on and really does help to keep things fresher, longer. It works well on trees, wreaths and any other greenery and we spray all of the wreaths and centerpieces we make in our classes with it. Simply spray the tree, wreath or roping with a coating to ensure a greener season. You can even use this product on your living trees or bushes outdoors if we have a dry season.

If you are still feeling guilty about using a fresh wreath, or if the Christmas tree lights seem a little less merry and bright after the day has passed, there are ways for you to re-purpose your greenery without the guilt. Here are some other ideas for ways in which you can re-cycle your green decorations:

~ Create a bird feeder out of an old wreath by drenching it with Karo Syrup and sprinkling bird seed over the entire wreath. Let it dry then hang outside to feed your feathered friends throughout the winter months.

~ Coat pine cones with peanut butter and sprinkle bird seed over the cones. Make sure that you replenish them throughout the season.

~ Use leftover fruit cakes, nuts, and breads in the wreath as long as they are safe for wildlife. It’s a great way to use up those leftovers or get rid of that office fruitcake!

~ Wreaths can be laid around many perennials as mulch to help protect them throughout the winter. And they are easy to clean up in the spring! Simply lift the wreath or greens off and discard- no messy mulch to rake or remove.

~ Cut trees into smaller branches and lay them around perennials, new plantings, shrubs, or anything else you’d care to help insulate and protect throughout the winter season.

~ Save the needles to create potpourri. Dry the branches, then remove and crumble the needles. Mix with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and perhaps some Christmas scent. Store in a tightly covered jar. To create a pleasant holiday scent, add one cup of water to 1/4 cup of the dry mixture and heat on a stove top or in a potpourri burner.

~ Potpourri makes a great gift for next Christmas. Put the mixture in decorative jars and top with a festive ribbon!

~ If you have deep ponds on your property that contain fish, consider sinking your Christmas tree, or cutting it into pieces and sinking those in the ponds in order to create a safe habitat for fish.

~ And finally, if nothing else, you can use branches from a dried out tree to start your fireplace or wood stove.

Gail Vanik, owner of Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery is located at 26650 Road P on your way to Dolores. Her and her friendly staff can help you with all things “green”. They are open daily from 9am – 5pm. You can also reach them at (970) 565-8274.

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