Billy Balls on Pine Trees

The best go-to for holiday decor is nature.

Billy Balls on pine trees
and Pinkelponkers that glitter
Hypericum in silver bowls
and seed kits for critters
Myrtle topiary all dressed up with bling
These are a few of my favorite things.

The best go-to for holiday decor is nature. Live greenery, seed pods and flowers can be used inside and out. String minilights through junipers, combine bright yellow Craspedia, aka Billy Balls, with eucalyptus and berries in a centerpiece, or hang a simple moss wreath against a black front door.

Those of us who come from immigrant stock and lack the requisite Pilgrim DNA, have risen to the challenge of holiday decorating.

We have learned through countless failures just how hard it is to get that hedge dressed up neatly with lights, to hang boughs without issuing “Warning” signs to visitors over Hobbitt height, to bend florist wire to create a square boxwood wreath without destroying my typing hand.

After nearly breaking my neck all autumn tripping over American sweetgum seedpods, aka pinkelponkers, on the sidewalk, I have come to learn they are pretty spectacular glittered up in silver and thrown in a hurricane lamp with pinecones and small silver sea glass or bells.

On the outside, blank stucco walls are the perfect backdrop for wool felt wall pockets that can be planted now with colorful pansies, or frasier fir and holly branches or holiday-colored succulents.

And even though we pick pines and firs inside the house, think of how cool it would be to place a fully matured potted 6-foot-tall Norfolk Pine on the property.

Condo and apartment dwellers can add candy stripe poinsettias in an urn as a cheery welcome without demanding much space.
I’m nothing if not a little anarchist--so let me also suggest tossing those nifty seed bomb packs outside your Prius windows into an empty, littered lot you might pass on Laurel Canyon Blvd. on your way to Mulholland. The bomb packets are made especially to sprout with greenery, some specifically geared to feeding wildlife. For those of us who have not seen a street cleaning crew on Laurel Canyon Blvd. in over eight months, we too would appreciate it!

Finally, to all harried shoppers: step away from the dreidel earrings, the Santa socks and ties. I proffer some last minute gifts for green thumbs:

*TreePeople’s annual Holiday Tree Dedication stands out as no-app, low-tech, way to honor people, pets, friends, relatives and mentors, past and present. Here’s how it works: For $25, TreePeople will plant one seedling or sapling and send a personalized holiday card to the recipient. For $100 you get a grove of five trees plus a holiday-themed certificate commemorating the occasion. And on Sunday, Dec.16, you can join the Community Tree Walk in Valley Glen from 2 pm - 4 pm on a campus walk through and get tips on identifying trees.

*Don’t forget our feathered friends. Try the 100% American-made mahogany bungalow style birdhouse ($110 gardenartisans.us). You’ll be surprised how quickly birds will find it.

*Anthropologie offers an heirloom vegetable seed kit that should produce zucchini, globe basil, cherry tomato and lemon mint for $28. Or from New England-based, award-winning artisan Sarah Rainwater, an organic edible flower seed kit featuring fresh lemon mint, starflower, nasturtium and calendula.

*It’s good to be a tool head. Get your hoe hoe hoe on with a DeWit sporkhead part fork part hoe then combine it with a rugged nailbrush and cube of soap. Or combine the practical and the sentimental with a heart-shaped trowel by Sneeboer.

STEAL THIS IDEA: Those hanging baskets that are looking limp? Remove old annuals or root-bound perennials and insert minilights for a winter wonderland scene.

Resources: clear sea glass and silver bells Pier 1 on Ventura Blvd. Moss wreath Swag on Tujunga Ave.; billy balls (Craspedia) Armstrong Garden Center Sherman Oaks; Norfolk Pine and wool felt wall pockets at Sheridan Gardens Nursery in Burbank. Seed bombs Restoration Hardware Sherman Oaks.


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