Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simple Christmas: Inspired by Nature

Pepper is an ambitious Christmas tree climber.  And so lately, we have only risked decorating our artificial tree, which is large and strong enough to hold her and all its ornaments.
But we have missed a real cut tree… the scent and the needles(!) and the quirky shape… and thought Pepper would enjoy one as well.  Walter found a small, sweet Douglas fir and set it up in the basement TV room where we can enjoy it every night.  The fragrance is heavenly.  And I was inspired to decorate it with greens, browns and whites – the colors of a bright winter forest.

Recent visits to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond and the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. provided a lot of tree-trimming ideas as well.

The main tree in LGBG’s Conservatory is filled with birds and nests (and lots of ribbons and sparkles).
During the holidays, both gardens have model train displays that run through miniature landscapes of moss, lichens and dwarf plants.
And the U.S. Botanic Garden exhibits small-scale models of Capital landmarks, all made of natural, dried materials.
I decorated our little “garden” tree with flower-shaped ornaments, hand-blown glass pinecones and nuts and glass balls I swirled with green, brown and white paints.
The gold leaf poppy pod is made from a real one.  Shake it, and you can hear the tiny seeds still inside.
I found the silk snowdrops several years ago.  They look incredibly alive and are even planted in wee clay pots, finished with Spanish moss.  The vintage filigree-metal shapes are from my childhood tree.  I remember shopping for them at Lord & Taylor.
Dried blossoms from our Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ fill in gaps.  Some are over 8” long.  And I like that they are parchment brown now but used to be citrusy white.

Our burnished angel is a little rough around the edges, but she still adds glamour.  And the whole tree is topped with reused gold ribbon and two pretty butterflies.
At Lewis Ginter, they have all these funny animal displays: carrier pigeons delivering Christmas mail and bunny families waiting for Santa.

Even the more stately U.S. Botanic Garden has an almost-life-size twig moose in its adjacent National Garden.
Pepper is our resident funny animal.  She promises to be good and has only stood inside the tree so far.  But I’m waiting to see how it holds up to her investigations before I add any more ornaments.
It’s hard to resist such prettiness, especially at Christmas.

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