festive foliage
Image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Collect greenery from your garden to create natural decorations this celebratory season

The South African festive season is celebrated with long, hot summer days, which are often spent in the garden, around the swimming pool or on the beach. Despite our unique climate, many of the traditional references for decorating at this time of year come from the Northern Hemisphere, with green wreaths, garlands or table sprays sprinkled with touches of silver and red. As holly trees are rare in our local gardens – and poinsettias are far too overdone– here are some evergreen alternatives that you can use to create unique, fresh arrangements this season.

Use these varieties of green foliage as your base:

Viburnum (Viburnum tinus)

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Bay tree (Laurus nobilis)

Pine tree (Pinus)

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium)

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Yellowwood tree (Podocarpus henkelii)

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Mountain cedar (Woddringtonia nodiflora)

Intersperse these plants for silver/grey details:

Kooigoed or licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare)

Slangbos (Stoebe plumosa)

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Penny gum or other gum varieties (Eucalyptus)

Olive tree (Olea europaea)

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Wild silver oak (Brachylaena discolor)

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False olive (Buddleja saligna)

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Add red roses for scarlet pops:

Much to the envy of our Northern Hemisphere cousins, red roses (Rosa) are in flower during our festive season.

Hydrangeas, commonly known as Christmas flowers, are also in bloom during December, so we have the luxury of using fresh specimens. There’s nothing quite as luxurious as a single white Hydrangea flower head placed in a simple glass container on the festive table. Incorporating sticks and twigs is also an easy and economical way of bulking up an arrangement and, for something non-traditional, try adding succulents to your decor scheme. This year, I’m going to attempt to recreate a wreath made from echeverias that I saw recently, so the possibilities are endless!

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Text: Mary Maurel

Looking for more plant inspiration? Read Liven Up Your Shelves with Trailing Plants7 Indoor Plants that Thrive on Neglect and 5 Houseplant Instagram Accounts to Inspire next.