Holiday Herb Decorating
Many times holiday decorating can seem totally overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
The holidays are the perfect time to bring in your fresh herbs and enjoy them. Herbs will add character and fragrance to any project. They are easily available from your garden, many local food stores or your local nursery, often at any time of year.
Evergreen herbs can be grown year round for harvest in any zone. In warmer zones, such as Zones 7 or 8, simply grow outside in a sheltered area. In colder areas, grow your evergreen herbs in containers and when the frosts come simply tuck the herbs into the greenhouse, cold frame, or bring them right inside your home. When bringing herbs inside, the perfect location should be bright and cool. A south facing bay window or balcony door is perfect! Your plants should a get regular watering and a monthly feed.
If your herbs go “leggy,” they need more light; if they start to go yellow, increase their feeding and check for pests. A simple way to deal with pests is to simply put the whole container in the shower and gently rinse your plants with lukewarm water.
Evergreen herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and bay laurel are all excellent evergreen herbs for decorating. They offer beautiful foliage, fragrance and texture, and they are also extremely long-lasting. When placing the pine boughs and holly over the banister and mantle this year, slip in a few sprigs of rosemary and pile on the bay laurel. The combination and fragrance is fabulous.
Fresh herbs can be a very useful decorating accent for any holiday table or entrance. A centerpiece or bouquet using fresh herbs such as rosemary, golden sage, lavender or thyme nestled amongst fruits or flowers is a natural way to make any room in the house look festive and smell great. When looking for flowers to compliment your herbs consider any of your favorites. You do not have to stick to only “traditional” holiday flowers; addition of ribbon and pinecones will make it all work! To keep your natural decorations, arrangements and center pieces looking their best, mist weekly with fresh water.
In order to encourage your guests to visit and communicate while dining, keep the height of decorations at the holiday table low enough that they can see each other easily. Set small terra cotta containers overflowing with creeping thyme, parsley, chives or wheat grass down the center of the table or in a cluster for a decorative conversation piece. Labeling your pots will allow the gusts to know what they’re looking at; a simple paper card attached with a wooden clothespin will work just fine. Large pillar candles interspersed among the herbs are also pretty.
I love to grow things, and I especially love to have plants around the house in the winter. I really adore rosemary plants and those cute little “rosemary Christmas trees,” but the problem was I always managed to kill them!
My local food store always has healthy, inexpensive plants, so I asked them how they keep their rosemary Christmas trees looking so beautiful. The floral manager told me, “Rosemary can be tricky, but anyone who learns the trick can take care of one and they can get quite big. The secret to rosemary is that it likes to be constantly moist but doesn’t like to sit in the water, so it has to be well drained. Rosemary hates water around its roots, but it will die if the roots dry out. Just like some people, it likes to shower everyday, but not sit in a bath!”
When you get your plant home from the store, place it (pot and all) into a larger pot filled with gravel. Be sure the bigger pot has a hole at the bottom for drainage. You can place all of this on a plant saucer to catch water.
Water your rosemary (at the base of the plant) every day or every other day. It doesn’t need much, perhaps half a cup. Let the water run right through the plant and out into the saucer (be sure to empty the saucer). I just put my plants in the sink every morning and water them that way, letting all the water go down the drain. Then I put them back in place with something under them to catch more water.
Every once in while, give the rosemary a “bath,” gently rinsing off any dead leaves and other debris (but not the soil!) that tend to build up around the base of the plant. You can let it soak for a little while, and then drain very well.
Like most plants, rosemary likes humidity, so you can take the plant to the shower with you. Once a week or every couple weeks, put it on a bathroom counter, close the door, and take a long, steamy shower. Your plant will love you and you’ll feel pretty good, too!
How to Decorate Your Rosemary Tree
You can use any mini ornaments and lights, as long as they don’t weigh much. Rosemary branches are rather tender. Decorations should be easily removed for watering and misting.
I saw a very cute idea done on a mini tree that would work well for rosemary. Spray-paint uncooked bowtie pasta red, then hot-glue string or twist ties onto the back and attach them to the tree. You could even make a star out of gold gift-wrap and light cardboard (like cereal-box cardboard) to put at the top.
Now that my rosemary trees are looking so much better, I’m going to deck them out. Good luck, and enjoy your culinary Christmas tree!