I don’t have a mantel (yet) in my current home, but in my previous home, I dressed the mantel every year with foliage I clipped from my or my neighbor’s garden (with their kind permission, of course). I’ve found that even indoors without water, most of the foliage would last a week or two, just enough to add some color and cheer during the holidays.
These photos show one of my favorite arrangements, with sprays of euonymous and holly in the center, framed by fanning branches of nandina and cotoneaster on either side, all sitting on a bed of arborvitae clippings. I love the variety of greens and the bright red berries, contrasted with the cream stocking holders in front.
Because I love to create these holiday displays, both indoors and out, I try to include a variety of good evergreens in my garden. The broad-leaved evergreens in particular work well in a cottage-style garden, especially those with a loose habit or tiny leaves.
Some of my favorites, and those that I used in this arrangement, are:
Parney’s Red Clusterberry (Cotoneaster lacteus / C. parneyi)
This cotoneaster can get a bad rap because of it’s untidy habit and fast growth, but the unbelieveable profusion of red berries makes it a shrub worth considering. It can tolerate extreme clipping, even to being shaped into a living fix-foot wall only 6″ thick.
“Silver Princess” Boxleaf Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus ‘Moness’)
This euonymus truly has a “box” leaf, with tiny green leaves like a boxwood, edged in light cream. It’s relatively slow growing and takes clipping well, providing a lighter, creamier version anywhere you might use a box, such as a topiary or hedge.
“Silver King” Boxleaf Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus ‘Silver King’).
Silver King has larger leaves than the Silver Princess, and the variegation is more toward the yellow end. Like most euonymus it enjoys partial shade and can be clipped or shaped and survives containers well.
Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Most people are aware of heavenly bamboo from it’s near overuse in new developments and commercial properties. But when kept unclipped, it’s graceful vase-shaped habit, four-season interest, and tolerance for both shade, sun and air pollution make it an excellent choice for any garden.
And finally, the basics of green holly and arborvitae.
What about you? Do you grow things in your garden just to have the clippings? What are your favorite evergreens?