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Let's Decorate The House !
by Dan Clost
by Dan Clost

email: dan.clost@sympatico.ca

First serious garden earned 25 cents from the Kemptville Horticultural Society when I was 12. Have been poor in horticulture ever since but rich in spirit.

Went to work writing the Good Earth column (over 500 articles published in newspaper, magazine, website and journal.) and learned that what was printed wasn't what I wanted to say and certainly not what Gentle Reader understood me to say. Subsequently have developed a certain clarity and economy of words.

Day job- nursery and production manager for a large nursery/garden centre
Side job- Garden restoration and renovations, design consultations, remedial pruning.
Night job- garden writer and communicator (overnight success in another 20 years)

Dan gardens in Canadian Zone 5b


December 16, 2001


Let's decorate the house a wee bit. Trees and potted plants notwithstanding, there are lots of places that will benefit from a splash of living green.
The dining room table is usually decorated with the centrepiece. It is a real temptation to create a masterpiece that merits oohs and aahs. But, they can change to oh? ohs when it comes time to set the table. Why? Well, let's use our house as an example. The combination of one wife, two daughters and Christmas results in a conglomerate entity akin to a Martha Stewart cross Erma Bombeck. Here's what I do, run away. Every bare surface is inevitably decorated or, minimally, covered thematically with a cloth or some . . . thing. The table, when set, is adorned with every piece of china, silverware and candlestick that we own. The latter being young Robyn's desire to see what it is she isn't eating, such as carrots. Even if Dad does sauté them with raisins and cinnamon. Once the serving platters are brought out, there is a serious lack of space that can only be remedied by removing the centerpiece to . . . oh? oh
Here's two ideas. One, use several vases or dishes to make a multi? piece decoration that can be easily dissembled into smaller components for dispersal throughout the house during meal time. These can include individual sprigs of holly outlining each place setting. Two, use a much smaller decoration. Small should include short as well. Peering through a jungle, even if it is a Christmassy one, helps neither conversation or passing cranberries.
Boughs of evergreens around doorways or windowsills can be attractive. Make sure that there aren't sharp cut ends waiting for an unsuspecting sweater to catch on. It helps to fasten them relatively securely. Try not to use a celluloid tape on paint work. Masking tape is best and it can be an entertaining, make work task for little hands to decorate the neutral beige colour with crayons. After all, the wee ones want to be just as involved. There needs to be some prominent ornamentation to which a child can proudly point and say, "I helped" or "I did that."
Keep an eye on those bits of tree or shrub: make sure they are not drying out too much or near any heat sources. Always safety.
Let's not neglect out of doors either. Strings of light and plywood Santas are nice additions to the neighbourhoods but there are other things that we can do. Especially if some of us are less able to climb ladders and cart around awkward props. We have a rather large and heavy concrete planter on our front step, too heavy to move during the winter. This fall we trimmed back some junipers and cut down a small lilac shrub that was being shaded out by a Siberian elm in our back yard. The juniper boughs are lining the container and the shrubbery, now painted with a very cheap latex paint, is "planted" inside. If you are creatively minded, a bit of silver or gold spray paint can be used on the tips, red velvet bows can be tied on some twigs. A rather nice and very cheap entrance way decoration. Smaller containers of any description will work with this type of decoration. You can cover pots, pails, coffee cans with a fancy wrapper and "plant" a variety of objects. Your imagination is the only limitation. It is helpful though, if the twigs you are using have a bit of suppleness to them. For example, a dried out sugar maple branch will soon crack and fall to pieces. Lilac, willow, Weigela, dogwood and privet are good bets, especially if that bush is slated for a heavy pruning or removal this year.
Here's a gifting hint: do you know of someone who is unable to garden but would like to? Give them the gift of your labour. A packet of seeds and your note is all it takes to work wonders.

Email: clost@reach.net
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