Daniel Keeley is an award-winning exterior designer and a regular contributor to numerous publications.

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Outside Influence
by Daniel Keeley       #Holiday: Christmas   #Decorating

Organic elements, like the fresh greenery, sugar pinecones and sculptural Manzanita branch
seen here, combine with beautiful, earth-toned ornaments for an elegant, yet rustic feel.

How to Bring a Touch of the Garden to Your Holiday Decorations

As a garden and exterior designer, I can’t help but incorporate natural and outdoor elements when decorating for the holidays. And hey, if you think about it, the holiday season is the perfect time to bring the outdoors in. I mean, at what other time of year do we traditionally cut down real trees and put them in our living rooms?! So, as an expansion on this age-old tradition, try bringing some of your garden and the outdoors inside your home when decorating for the holidays this year. Here are some of my favorite techniques.


Naturally Festive

A simple amaryllis planted with green moss in a small garden container makes the perfect garden-inspired holiday decoration for the top of a piece of furniture.

Using natural items and organic materials is one of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors in for the holidays. Besides the ubiquitous Christmas tree, fresh evergreen wreaths and garland are a great place to start, and they will give your decorations a natural grace and fill your home with wonderful aromas. But also keep in mind the potential of other items such as pinecones, dried or fresh vines and sculptural tree branches. These items can even be gathered right from your own garden (did someone say, “FREE”?) and used in combination with basic greenery … whether it is real or artificial.


Freshly Seasoned

As with any occasion, fresh flowers are also the perfect ingredients for your holiday décor. Especially with flowering bulbs such as narcissus and amaryllis, you can introduce a living, growing and natural element to your decorations. Plus, they last for weeks! These bulbs can easily be found at nurseries and garden centers around the holidays and potted in your favorite decorative containers, or you can buy them already planted, as well. Either way fresh, flowering bulbs will fill your holiday home with the colors, scents and liveliness of the garden.


Winter Wonderland

Live narcissus in small garden planters, fresh moss, pinecones and a dusting of artificial snow make the perfect outdoor-inspired centerpiece for the holidays.

We all dream of the perfect white Christmas with freshly fallen snow blanketing the ground and the treetops. Well, regardless of the weather you can create your own white Christmas, and it is actually a great trick for bringing not just the feeling of the outdoors but also the feeling of being outdoors to your holiday decor. By recreating the illusion of fresh snow, you can conjure up a garden-inspired fantasy where the flakes just stopped falling! Simply sprinkle artificial snow on decorations, trees or table arrangements and let it pile up as it would naturally. If you’re afraid of avalanches … no problem: Use spray adhesive along with the artificial snow to add sparkle to items such as branches, pinecones and ornaments.


Here are a few additional tips:

1) Artificial snow is usually sold for use with miniature holiday villages, so look for it near the villages themselves.

2) Some artificial snow is nothing more than shredded plastic bags. Skip this and get the good stuff.

3) Finally, when decorating “let it snow” liberally for the best effect!


In From the Cold

Another great way to add a bit of the garden to your holiday décor is to bring some of your favorite decorative elements (such as a birdbath, statue or planter) in from the cold. For example, pile a bunch of colorful Christmas tree ornaments or naturally beautiful pinecones in a birdbath and place it next to your tree for an unexpected touch. Or, drape a statue with lush greenery and a big, festive bow for a dramatic holiday focal point. And, your smaller garden planters are perfect for potting up those narcissus and amaryllis bulbs. Even larger containers can be put to good use by filling them with fresh evergreens or interesting branches from the garden and grouping them around the Christmas tree, using them to dress up an entryway or placing them in an empty corner.

Happy Holidays!


Additional Photos
click on any photo to enlarge


Garden décor, such as this stone finial, can be decorated and brought inside for the holidays to add an unexpected outdoor touch to your décor. Here, fresh greenery, elegantly glittered pinecones and an earth-toned bow combine to create an elegant, understated focal point.


Garden statuary, such as this handsome bust, can be moved indoors during the holidays to create a dramatic and garden-inspired statement.


Establishing an outside influence doesn’t mean your decorations have to be traditional. Here, frosted trees and fresh poinsettias are planted in large, contemporary garden containers for a sleek, sophisticated approach to the holidays.


A variety of evergreens, sandblasted Manzanita branches and miniature pinecones lend an organic contrast to the shiny ornaments, mirrored obelisks and glass lamps in this tabletop arrangement.


On this staircase banister, huge sugar pinecones and pheasant feathers were used instead of traditional ornaments to decorate artificial garland. The result brings the outdoors into this holiday home in a dramatic and unexpected way.


A single narcissus bulb, lichen moss and an architectural branch bring a touch of the holidays and the outdoors to this powder room.


Live narcissus and fresh moss in a festive container bring a touch of the holidays and the outdoors to any room.


Live narcissus and English ivy in a festive container bring a touch of the holidays and the garden to this tabletop.


Evergreen trees potted in garden urns combine with vines, greenery and bright red berries to create a woodsy yet elegant mantle decoration.


Image: ARGARDWEB 12, 2011 (17)
Natural pinecones and fresh Spanish moss were used to add organic beauty to this stairway decoration.


Natural pinecones were combined with greenery and bright red berries to create this organically beautiful centerpiece.


Real pinecones, vines, greenery and moss topiaries were placed along with simple candlesticks and given a “fresh” blanketing of snow to give a garden-inspired grace to this large tabletop.


Pheasant feathers and butterfly ornaments used as a tree topper bring the feeling of the garden into this holiday décor.


(Photos courtesy of DK Design)



Posted: 12/18/15   RSS | Print


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