Tradition is great, but everyone loves new ways to spark up the holidays
By Gary Jones
There will always be a place for paperwhites, poinsettias and amaryllises during the holiday season. They are just so beautiful, accessible and festive.
However, there’s room for creativity this holiday season. The traditional trio does not have to be banished — maybe just not given the center of attention. What takes their place? Here are some holiday floral décor ideas that are a bit unexpected but appropriate for the season.
On the tops of just about everyone’s list are the stunning white and cream (tinged with red and pink) hellebores, available as flowering plants. They are hybrids involving H. niger, commonly called “Christmas rose.” These specifically will not grow well outside in mild California climates, like other hellebores, so enjoy them inside for the holidays, and then plant them outside. You may just have a favorite new winter-blooming perennial.
Silvery, wiry and wonderful, Calocephalus brownii is a great complement to all red flowers. Add them to mixed containers and centerpieces. For an icy effect, combine with pure white flowers.
Weave some long-growing “Silver Falls” dichondra from a 3- to 4-foot pot in and out of your fireplace mantel décor. Everyone will wonder what that gorgeous silver foliage is — and they will not believe it is a live plant.
There are several types of begonias now available. “Crackling Fire White” has beautifully arching stems dripping with white, bell-like flowers.
Who would have thought “Kangaroo Paw” as a holiday flower? The bright red ones are stunning in centerpieces and suggest the fuzzy horns of reindeer.
Red Ornamental Peppers
The gorgeous, glossy, scarlet red fruit of peppers popping through in a centerpiece or container garden is an unusual touch.
Choose the whitest, most silver-toned ones. Then, nestle them among velvety-red flowers for a sleek, contemporary holiday look. For another combination, try silver succulents in mercury glass votives.
Purchase Kalanchoes just as the first blooms are popping and they will last for weeks and weeks indoors. The white ones, especially the white double ones, have a nice elegance, as do the deep red. Use them anywhere and everywhere since they are not fussy about lack of or over-exposure to light.
“Shooting Star” has almost become a holiday. It does compete with other new, white hydrangeas featured for the holidays, though. There has never been a more elegant holiday flower in our opinion.
This wonderful flower has almost become as popular as the poinsettia and paperwhite. You may not have used them indoors as holiday décor, but you should strongly consider it. Nestle either red or white cyclamen in freshly-polished silver bowls with a bit of deep green moss to hide the pots. Absolutely sensational!
—Gary Jones is the Chief Horticulturist at Armstrong Garden Centers. Email him your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.