This holiday season, beautiful decorative treasures can be found right in your backyard.

Photo by C.L.Fornari

Photo by C.L.Fornari

Chances are most of your holiday decorating needs are right outside your Cape or Islands back door. Even small landscapes can provide the abundance of colors and textures of greenery perfect for doors, arrangements, mantles, and Christmas crafts. From foundation plants to perennials—and even perimeter-of-the-property vines—much of your winter décor is already in your own backyard.

Needled evergreens are the backbone of many holiday projects. The first step in making wreaths, swags, and mantle or table arrangements is to cut branches from these shrubs and trees. For example, white pine, the long-needled tree that graces so many South East Massachusetts properties, is perfect for all decorating.

Cutting white pine branches ends up thickening the growth of these large trees the following year, so don’t hesitate to do your pruning now. Cut white pine boughs about two to three feet long, harvesting from several areas of the tree.
Other needled evergreens that are beautiful when cut are the dark green Hinoki false-cypress and yews, and the lighter Arborvitae and juniper foliage. Needled evergreens that are blue in color make any arrangement richer. Great Cape and Islands choices are Blue Atlas cedar, Vanderwolf’s pines, Wichita blue junipers, or similar varieties which add colorful seaside hues to any holiday design.

Broadleaf evergreens are common in Massachusetts landscapes and will add depth and color to decorations. Rhododendron, holly, and Pieris (andromeda) are three common plants that are lovely in holiday décor. The green buds on Rhododendron, red berries on holly, and burgundy flower stems on Pieris provide additional drama to any design.

Other widespread landscaping plants that work well for holiday decorating include variegated Euonymus, such as Emerald Gaiety or Green and Gold. In addition to white or yellow leaves, many of these shrubs take on an additional blush of pink once the temperatures cool. In fact, just about all of your evergreen plants will add color, so the first step in greening your home for the holidays is to gather clippings from most of your shrubs and trees.