At A Glance: Other Garlands

holiday garland
This is a very big porch, that features a pair of large Branch boxes. Lacking a garland, this front door would look uninviting. A front door that makes a strong welcoming statement at the holidays is a front door that anticipates holiday gatherings between family and friends – that front door says come inside! A holiday landscape is celebratory. Friendly. And most of all, warm. A porch of this size is a lot of brick, stone and wood. Some green helps to warm the space. The magnolia garland is simple, and is lighted. Warmer for winter?  This makes sense in my zone.

holiday garland with a wreathA wreath at the top of the garland adds a lot of visual weight. This wreath has lots of materials attached to it. Though the garden has gone dormant, a holiday expression born from the garden is a pleasure all around.

holiday and winter garlands (1)I cannot explain why I am drawn to anything that has grapevine on it.  Rob found a local artisan who has been covering steel topiary forms and spheres with grapevine for the shop. We cannot keep up with the demand. A roll of grapevine provides incredibly stability and strength to an evergreen garland. The strength of a twirling roll of grapevine reflects the strength and purpose of every gardener. Our warm December aside, our holiday weather can be very cold and blustery. A grapevine adds a lot of volume to a garland with very little mass. Lights on that grapevine help to illuminate all of the other garland elements evenly.

holiday garlandAn artificial garland is fine on a covered porch.  Exposed to the sun and elements, an artificial garland will fade, no matter how beautiful it represents the forms and shapes of the real thing.

holiday and winter garland (2)With multiple garlands, plain and simple can be very effective. If I wind garland around a column, I like enough length to make a puddle of greens on the ground. I wind the evergreen garlands in opposite directions, given pairs of columns.

holiday and winter garland (11)Southern magnolia garlands have a strong visual presence. Those large glossy green leaves with their velvety brown obverse are beautiful.  Magnolia branches, leaves and garlands will dry.  Those glossy dark green leaves turn to a pale green, and finally to bronze. They curl as they dry. The leaves stick tight to the branches, all winter long. In mid December, a fresh magnolia garland is a delight.

DSC_7011My garland at home is different every year. This past year, faced with a number of leftover pink eucalyptus bunches, I took the plunge for pink.  After adding some orange in the way of copper curly willow to the mix, I was surprised at how much I liked the look.  A garland is usually viewed from afar. This means  big gestures and bold color choices may be pleasing.

garlandGarlands can be incredibly heavy. Hanging a garland is always in defiance of gravity.  A hanging mechanism is essential.  Years ago I would ask my clients if I could drill into the mortar between their bricks, and set screws to hold the garland. I have had clients forego garland, as they were worried this would damage the integrity of the brick, or be noticeable the remainder of the year. I can report that those homes where I have been hanging garlands from screws set into the wall for 20 years are still standing. A proper hanging mechanism is not only necessary, it makes the hanging easier.

holiday garlandIn this case, a light fixture over the door bore most of the weight of the garland. A substantially thick stone surround to the door provided a safe ledge for this garland.  Any garland more complex than this would require fasteners set in to the wall. So much of what is beautiful at the holidays and into the winter is the beauty of the construction and installation. I find this is true of anything in the landscape. A beautifully imagined dream for a landscape only becomes a dream come true when it is properly planted, or installed.

holiday and winter garlands (2)I have a particular interest in making and hanging holiday garland.  I would guess that springs from the idea that I need to wrap my winter season in something not only beautiful, but warm. The gray and the cold is next up for my garden-and me.  I am not a fan of the dormant season.  That said, I do what I can to make the winter a little more tolerable.

the front door for the holidayYesterday we planted tulips and daffodils for this client. We also hung a garland, and installed cut Christmas trees in their pots. The garland and these trees are lighted.  Their front door at dark will be welcoming. They are also ready for the spring. We planted lots of spring flowering bulbs. They are ready for holidays, and the coming of winter-and the spring to come. Every great moment in the landscape twinkles.



  1. To those of your clients who resist drilling into the mortar between their bricks, I would say, ‘take a risk and let it happen!’
    I was nervous about the holes in the mortar as well…Well! That was year one. Now those hanging nails are invisible when the garland is down. And then when the garland is up, the effect is sheer magic! All holes can be remedied with some filler or putty.
    Your garlands weave such magical images.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dear Deborah….Once we have fallen in love with an artist’s work, isn’t one of the things we most long for to get inside that artist’s head, to somehow get closer to the creative process. I thank you for letting us in that artist’s head.

  3. Beautiful work for the holidays as always, Deborah. Inspiring to say the least!

  4. Karl Milikowski says

    Fantastic job with garland! Such details are beautiful and have a warm feeling. I just started getting your blog but have seen your website for awhile. Now I look forward to your blog. You truly do beautiful work. Merry Christmas to you. Karl

  5. Deborah,
    Again, thank you for sharing your creativity,insight and making each season sparkle. Merry Christmas

  6. So beautiful. I love your work, and the homes that you beautify with your work. I wish i lived in your area so i could go on a driving tour! Again, thank you Deborah for generously sharing your work, your process, your passions with us.

  7. The grape vine interests me.. here in wine country (Napa County) the vines are never grown to these lengths and are managed for maximum yield. I wonder if there are vines grown somewhere (sadly probably South America) specifically for floral use ?

  8. Adrienne Spencer says

    As a fellow designer, I must applaud your talent, taste and endless supply of creative, beautiful, and well designed ideas and plans. Yours is the only blog I read and look forward to anymore. So surprised to see magnolia leaves in the north. How long will the garlands remain attractive looking?

  9. Spectacular! I love your work. As a gardener, I also miss the garden off season. As you state, the garland certainly offers a great, warm, welcoming and beautiful alternative as we wait for the new growing season. I plant bulbs in Sept. every year and look forward to Spring blooms.

    Now I want a garland at my front door. So far nothing compares to the garland you show on your blog. I’m on a mission. Susan

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