Foraging for Winter Decorations

Fresh foraged material adds a special touch to any entry, table-scape, or staircase during the holidays.


Backyard greenery like boxwood, holly, juniper, cypress, magnolia, nandina, ligustrum, mahonia, and arborvitae are great options to use in holiday decor. Additionally, vines like ivy or woody vines like wisteria work well incorporated into arrangements. When pruning backyard foliage, prune evenly around the plant and not too heavy on one side so that the bush won’t look lopsided for the next season. For tips on choosing and caring for fresh-cut greens see, HGIC 1753, Holiday Decorating with Fresh Greenery.

Live greenery garland tied together with twine.

Live greenery garland tied together with twine.
Photo Credit: Mary Vargo


Pinecones can be gathered up and baked on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees for an hour to dry out and kill any insects inside. They can be sprayed with lacquer or spray paint for a pop of color. They are great to use as tree ornaments or piled in a hurricane vase centerpiece. If used on an outdoor wreath, soak them in water to make them close up, making them easier to use.

Dried pinecones spray painted golds and greens.

Dried pinecones spray painted golds and greens.
Carmen Ketron, ©2021, Clemson University

Seasonal Berries

Holly and nandina berries will add color to any wreath or arrangement. Cut the entire branch to incorporate leaves and stems in arrangements. Make sure to water them and keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

Live greenery wreath with dried flowers and ornaments.

Live greenery wreath with dried flowers and ornaments.
Carmen Ketron, ©2021, Clemson University

Dried Flowers & Seed Pods

Let okra, cotton bolls, echinops thistle, nigella, and other pod forming plants go to seed on the stem and use the seed pods as textural additions to your holiday bouquets. Hang upside down in a cool space to fully dry out. Some great blooming flowers like celosia, gomphrena, ageratum, and strawflower can be dried and used in décor. For more information on drying flowers see, HGIC 1151, Drying Flowers.

Garden Vegetables and Herbs

Kale florets, swiss chard stems, and even carrots can make for great centerpieces from your garden. Cold hardy herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage are also still in the garden in the winter months. Use them as garnishes on holiday plates or incorporate them as greenery in floral arrangements. They have the added benefit of smelling great.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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