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Spread the Joy - decorate with real flowers in Christmas

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By Darek Gondor

Winter hit most of Canada this year while some people were still raking the autumn leaves. With all but the toughest evergreens gone outdoors, it’s all the more reason to think about flowers as a Christmas decorating strategy indoors.

The contrast you create with bleak, monotone winter colours can make your home a more pleasant place than in any other season.

Where to start

Let’s face it, a wreath and some plastic mistletoe hanging above the doorway probably won’t set you apart. The best way to go is with real flowers that show warm, vibrant colours and have a natural scent. One of the most popular and inexpensive Christmas flowers is the poinsettia. Its deep red leaves and small size make it a good choice to fill unused counter top space, or place it along the same wall as your Christmas tree. Other varieties show pale white and yellow leaves. Poinsettias need only indirect sunlight, and should get 8 hours of it every day. Kept in cool conditions and with regular watering, they should bloom during the holidays.

Poinsettias can actually re-bloom in spring. Just trim your plant to 6 or 7 inches and fertilize, keeping a regular watering schedule.

Roses on the other hand, give you something the poinsettia cannot – class. A little more expensive, fresh cut roses in a proper vase stand out nicely in any room. Use these in centerpieces on mantles and tabletops where they can command attention. Roses are heavy drinkers and sensitive to temperature. For best results add floral preservative to a tall vase and place them in a cool place. Sometimes you can revive a wilted rose for a few more days by actually submerging it in water for 30 – 60 minutes.

Amaryllis plants bloom with mixtures of bronze, green, yellow and violet. Their bloom cycle is difficult to pin down, but a recent article in Ottawa’s Metro newspaper suggested the following: purchase several plants a few weeks apart in early winter, and you can be sure to have one or two in bloom for Christmas, and the months ahead. Amaryllis can bloom in 6 weeks or in 9 or 10 weeks. The fast blooming varieties include “Papillio”, “Emerald” and “Pink Floyd”.

Don’t crowd this flower. It has a mature look that goes well with wood or an elegant tablecloth.

Decorating tips

Take away the clutter! - no use for your beautiful bouquet hiding behind randomly left behind personal belongings.

Personalize! - simple additions like ribbon, felt, candles, or even bulbs usually reserved for the tree enhance an arrangement. Plus, it feels good to actually create something (don’t overdue it with this one).

Select a theme! - try selecting a set of two or three colours in one room. Anything more and you are in danger of losing the impact.

Think outside the vase! - use flowers as accessories. I had a friend who kept dried roses fastened to her dresser mirror, and it looked perfect. Try weaving them into a pine wreath.

Why not experiment with real flowers this Christmas? They are after all living organisms, making them the most ecological way to decorate.

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