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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

E is for Evergreens

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Can it be Christmas without decorations? Without fresh greenery? E is for Evergreens is the fifth post in Christmas traditions from A to Z that add sparkle, love, laughter, beauty, comfort, nostalgia, meaning, and joy to the Christmas season. 

Perhaps evergreen decorations are a tradition for you. Or, maybe you will be inspired to add evergreens to your home as a new tradition for you! 

is for Evergreens.

Decking the halls with mistletoe, holly, and ivy has been a tradition in England since the late medieval period. Europeans decorated their homes in winter with holly and ivy long before homes were decorated for Christmas. Cut greenery freshened the air in winter homes and brightened people's spirits by reminding them Spring was coming. 

Decorating with fresh greenery for the Christmas holidays in the United States has its origins in the English traditions. Even today historic Williamsburg, Virginia has lavish fresh greenery wreaths, swags, and garlands for exterior doors, windows, gates, and fences for the Christmas holidays. 


Hanging mistletoe during the holidays is traditional in both England and the United States. 

According to an article in Time magazine a few years ago the first mention of kissing under mistletoe is in a song published in England in 1784. The lyrics were 

    "What all the men, Jem, John, and Joe, 
    Cry, 'What good-luck has sent ye?'
    And kiss beneath the mistletoe,
    The girl not turn'd of twenty." 


There are more than a 1000 varieties of holly in the United States which means everyone can probably find a holly in their area with which to decorate. 

Just a few holly twigs with bright red berries added to red pears make an easy Christmas-y centerpiece. Placing the pears and holly on a platter also makes it easy to remove the display to make room for food during meals, and quickly returning the display back to the table after meals. 

Tuck a small holly twig next to a napkin at a place setting for more easy holiday decorating. 


Using potted ivy wreaths is an excellent way to decorate with live greenery that will last throughout the holidays and beyond into winter. After Christmas just remove the Noel sign, artificial Christmas stem, and antler to transform the display into everyday decor. 

Other Greenery

Harvest fresh cut greenery from your yard for free decorations. A simple exterior wreath fashioned from native incense cedar and grapevine is beautiful door decor. 

Bright green horse apples are native to the southeastern region of the United States. These were collected from the ground along the ditch of a rural road. Stacked atop incense cedar in a footed pedestal urn the large horse apples make a stunning arrangement for outside. Since horse apples have a strong scent it is not recommended to use them in enclosed places.

Potted rosemary plants trimmed into tree shape are traditional Christmas plants found in almost all garden centers in the South. After using them inside during the holidays they can be transplanted to outside gardens in areas with mild winters. Rosemary will live through most winters in the Dallas/FortWorth area, but will die in extreme low temperature winters like the past two years.

Fresh boxwood wreaths are usually available at Trader Joe's for very reasonable prices in my area. Not only are the wreaths good for decorating doors, windows, and mantels, they can also be hung horizontally from the ceiling and embellished with dangling bells underneath. 

Simple evergreen branches covered in snow decorate window boxes on the second floor above this restaurant in Montreal. Large tree branches blend natural greenery and twinkling lights for spectacular huge exterior Christmas decorations suitable for extremely cold locations. 

Decorating with fresh evergreens is a versatile and beautiful holiday tradition.