Grow Your Own Decorations

Since many of us are busy going through the catalogs and planning our gardens for this year, it seems like a good time to think about growing some of your own decorations for next fall and the holidays. Looking around the house, I thought of all the decorations I have that were "home grown" in my garden.

There is a dried arrangement which contains okra pods, statice in shades of blue and pink and mauve, wild-collected thistle pods and some tops of corn stalks, all arranged in a basket. Many annual flowers are available especially for drying, and lots of perennials and herbs dry well, also. On a visit to the florist one day I noticed that they had hot peppers, still on the plant, picked and displayed in the case. Dried peppers are easy here, but I hadn't thought of drying them on the stem so they could be put into an arrangement! Ristras are easy, too, if you grow your own peppers. I especially like the little "firecracker" peppers to make into mini-wreaths and ristras.

Last year I grew tiny pumpkins Tiny Tim (orange) and Baby Boo (white), both grow well here. They are very decorative, and can be expensive to buy at the store. I had enough to send a box full to my granddaughters for decorating at their house from just a few vines. They loved painting funny frees for Halloween, especially on the white ones. Of course, you can grow large pumpkins, for Jack O' Lanterns, too. And, I haven't even mentioned gourds! Not only are there many different sizes, shapes, and colors of gourds but even more ways to decorate with them. Whole books have been written on decorative uses for gourds.

I have also grown ornamental popcorn in different colors, "Little Boy Blue," a pink and also a variegated variety that had lots of yellow and black kernels on the small 6 inch or so cobs. They are good decorations for a table or attaching to a wreath. The mauve-pink and dusty blue colors go especially well if you have "country" colors in your home. Strawberry popcorn is another great decoration.

Even the last of the season's veggies can be very decorative. At Thanksgiving, I fill a cornucopia-shaped basket with okra, eggplant, peppers, and corn and this year a few tomatoes picked green when frost was coming and ripening nicely to provide red color in the arrangement. So - while browsing the catalogs, keep some decorations in mind, too.

Maggi Crist
March, 1997