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Harvesting Christmas Decorations

Tuesday, 11 Dec 12 Clear -10°C / 14°F

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I have been working at creating Christmas decorations from greenery harvested on site. While most of the evergreens on the property are cedar, I have managed to locate one large white spruce, and several balsam firs – one of which is now my Christmas tree. Wild grapevine seems to grow everywhere, and I controlled some of it by ripping it out of trees and turning it into wreaths.

I found several snowman shaped grapevine wreath creations online and did my best to make one work with the scale of the house… we’ve since had some freezing rain and it’s now just a set of wreaths sitting near the front porch. It might be for the best: my tomato teepee support made the snowman look a little alien-like. I’ll have to get some brick clips or be brave and try glue gunning (anyone tried this? apparently it’s supposed to peel off easily post-holidays) it to the bricks next year.

I added cedar, spruce, dogwood and some burlap roses to one of the grapevine wreaths I made and it’s now adding some winter flair to the front door. I used the leftover cedar and spruce to add volume to a fake garland purchased on sale after Christmas several years ago. I wrapped the fake garland around the banister and then added bunches of cedar (wire together with floral wire) between the garland and the banister. Then I added the spruce boughs, some lights, ribbon and blue & silver ornaments. As a banister decorating method I’m quite pleased with it. I had lots of cedar and a good amount of spruce, so the main effect is from the real greenery, but it was lots less effort than wiring a real garland from scratch.

Finally, I decided that rather than sort out the lights on my artificial tree (one of the strings went out last year, and despite several hours of trying to figure out which bulb must have been out: i.e. checking about 300 bulbs I couldn’t isolate the problem) I would see if I could find a Christmas tree on the property. I found a balsam fir that is working quite well. The branches are a bit weighed down by the three strings of lights, but I’m happy with how the ornaments are really showcased by a more airy tree. The photo doesn’t really do it justice. I used an old plastic waste basket covered with burlap and filled with stones as a stand.

TVO aired the Victorian Farm Christmas specials on Sunday evening. I enjoyed watching them again and combined with the experiences of harvesting and making my own decorations, and caring for chickens it gave me a real appreciation of just how much preparation must have gone into creating the postcard-styled Victorian Christmas in the country we all picture.


This entry is about

Day 345

Grapes, wild

Vitis labrusca


Made wreaths

Day 12033

Cedar, Forest

Thuja occidentalis

Day 345

Dogwood, Red Twigs

Cornus sericea

Day 345

White Spruce

Picea albertiana

Day 345

Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea


Zone 4 & 5 Forest garden

Harvesting items for Christmas decorations

Day 345

Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea



  • Armorel

    Armorel wrote:

    I love this journal, Hazel :-)
    Your tree looks lovely and you’re right, the airiness of it really shows off the decorations.
    We’ve resorted to an artificial tree this year after our lovely little potted Blue Spruce died this summer :-( I just need to source some fragrance oil that will make it smell ‘real’ for hubby!
    Maybe this journal will spur me into trying a wreath for the first time (we have lots of family and friends visiting over Christmas) because I have lots of ivy which would look nice.

    Posted on 12 Dec 12 (over 2 years ago)

  • HazelJ

    HazelJ wrote:

    I think you can use ivy to make a grapevine like wreath. I just made a circle with several lengths of grapevine, and then sort of continued by spiralling them around the circle to hold it all together. For a 14" to 18" diameter wreath I found lengths about 12’ to 16’ long worked fairly well. If you get to the end of the vine before you think the wreath is full enough, you can weave more vines in and just keep going. There are a few YouTube videos of people making grapevine wreaths, but I didn’t find them particularly informative and wound up just experimenting until I found a technique that worked for me. Good luck!

    Posted on 14 Dec 12 (over 2 years ago)

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