Anything being pruned selectively is fair game for seasonal decorating. Photo by Donna Balzer/For CREB®Now

Chill out

Bring nature indoors for low-cost decorating this season

newDonnawebMichelena Bamford loves the scent of natural evergreens such as junipers, pines, blue spruce, white spruce and cedars in her home.

But the owner of Calgary-based Rocky Mountain Wreaths doesn’t limit herself to greens. She also gathers local dogwood, birch and wolfwillow twigs to add to her work. Combined, she says it brings nature into her home and brightens up the dark days of December.

“Different plants that we appreciate at different times of year are really important to me,” said Bamford.

Our yards are packed with free stuff, and this is the time to bring it indoors.

The best approach is to prune evergreens when the wood isn’t frozen, which is almost year-round in Calgary. Anything being pruned selectively is fair game for seasonal decorating. Clip evergreens such as junipers that are spilling over your sidewalk, shorten the cedars pushing through your eaves or trim spruce branches popping over the fence.

Yet be careful when cutting deciduous plants. Don’t cut your shrubs back to nubs. The goal is to retain the tree or shrub’s overall form, as well as to avoid cutting anything that blooms in spring such as apples or lilacs. Trimming now will remove spring flowers.

Bamford compares seasonal wreath-making to forest bathing, a Japanese practice developed in the 1980s that proposes spending time under the canopy of a living forest as a form of preventive health care and healing.

“You have all the wonderful benefits and the negative ions that the forest would give off and you have the aromatherapy,” she said. “And it’s scientifically proven now to reduce stress and boost the immune system. I know that personally (greens) are very soothing to me, and I just think nature is so beautiful. Nature is art to me.”

Bamford believes everyone can benefit from hands-on “bathing” workshops because of the emotional and physical value gained from working with fresh greens. She hosts a series of indoor forest bathing events throughout the holiday season. For more information, visit wolfwillowstudio.ca.

“I did start off just (making) wreaths, as the name says, but (now I offer) a bunch of workshops (and) I provide all the materials,” said Bamford. “I gather the boughs; I teach you how to prepare a winter pot. People come in groups and it’s a lovely night out. I provide some warm cider, and you go home with a gorgeous planter for your doorstep.”

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