Saving up for the holidays

Throughout the year, I collect pinecones, acorns, grasses, and seedpods in my yard and on hikes (where permitted). However, in the fall I really step up my activity. Mother nature is drying some of them for me this time of year and I love to take advantage of that. As organic matter can break down quickly in our climate, it is important to get them while you can. And why am I saving these treasures? To use in decorating for the holidays, of course! Incorporating natural elements and homemade items into your holiday décor can make it much warmer, personal, and attractive.

Agapanthus blooms drying
Drying spent Agapanthus blooms. Photo credit: Sue Grinath, UF/IFAS Extension

I was recently pruning the chaste tree in the Demonstration Gardens in Bartow. Its blooms are stunning right now but it had some dead branches. I looked at what I had cut off and realized that the small, dried blossoms were really cute. Into the ‘to go’ bag they went! Crapemyrtle have lots of interesting seed pods right now. How many others can you find? As I prune other trees and shrubs, I hold on to relatively straight branches as well as ones with interesting lichens. All these items can be used in ornaments and arrangements.

My holly bushes always get pruned a day or two before our Master Gardener Volunteer December meeting. They last quite a while. By that time, my Magnolia leaves often seem to have blemishes, I noticed the other day that they look rather good right now. I hope to pick them soon and preserve them with glycerin. There is a very useful article called Drying and Preserving Plant Materials for Decorative Uses on EDIS that can be found here.

I am also currently eyeing up my vines for wreaths – I have Grape, Virginia Creeper, Asiatic Jasmine, and Bleeding Hearts. I like to prune them and use them within a couple of days. If dried, they can be soaked in water to make them more flexible but on a nice day it is a fun break from pruning to start twining them to make something special!

Decorative stars made of sticks and found objects. Photo credit: Sue Grinath, UF/IFAS Extension

If you would like more ideas about saving and creating, look at an article written a few years ago by one of our highly creative Master Gardener Volunteers.

I have started playing around with some of my saved items. It is always fun to work on old favorites and also try to come up with something new. During our Tuesday 15 minute Webinars on December 1,8, and 15 UF/IFAS Extension we will be presenting more ideas on how to incorporate natural items into your holiday décor. Please join us.

This article was written by Master Gardener Volunteer Sue Grinath under supervision of the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Give us a call, or email us at

If you are not in Polk County, Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic.

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.


Posted: December 8, 2020

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes
Tags: Anne Yasalonis, Central Florida, Christmas, Decor From The Garden, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Florida-Friendly Plants, Flowers, Gardening, Holiday, Master Gardener, Master Gardener Volunteer, Polkgardening, Polkmg

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