Holiday Garnish

A holiday garland is an especially festive and personal garnish to an outdoor holiday display. There are few parameters and no rules about what constitutes a garland, but for the fact that it has length and continuity such that it can hang from something. A garland does for a winter garden what a vine does for a summer garden. Vines grow up, and garlands hang down, but the big idea is the same. I am sure that vining plants were the inspiration for the first winter garlands, aren’t you? Every garden has a place for something that climbs, or something that drapes. Vines and garlands take up no room on the ground plane, but they can endow the airspace with so much visual interest. A new gardening season asks for a new approach. That every gardener in a northern zone is about to turn to the winter, some talk about garlands might be useful. Most of the garlands we do are placed over the front door, but they are equally at home attached to an arbor, pergola, a gate or a fence. A garland can wreathe a large window, or a favorite garden sculpture. They can be wound around a lamp post, or the trunk of a favorite tree. A garland can also be pooled on the ground around that same light post or tree. Think winter scarf, stole, wrap, or boa. We begin with a simple mixed fir garland custom ordered in advance from our farmers market, to which we add additional greens. A mass of greens has a quiet and substantial look. Any number of other materials can be added to that length of greens. If the garland is to be lighted, I like winding a spiral of grapevine that stands proud of those greens.  It provides a perfect place to attach the lights. If we add cluster LED lights, we attach them to the underside of the grapevine.  There is no need to be looking at those wires during the day. An underside installation directs the light down onto the surface of the garland. Lights buried in the greens of a garland gives an uneven and not entirely satisfactory night time appearance.

Once we have lighted and adorned a holiday garland, it takes most of us to pick it up, and load it in the truck for delivery.  Evergreen garlands are heavy. The needles weigh next to nothing-but the woody branches to which those needles are attached weigh a lot.  If you are able to make your own garlands from scratch, wire together short evergreen tips that have a lot of needles, and not so much wood. Anything that gets added to a garland adds more weight. Really heavy garlands drape beautifully-thanks to that phenomena known as gravity. That weight also requires a thoughtful and secure installation.

We are fortunate to have a truck that can hold and spread out a 25 foot garland on the floor. All the work that goes into attaching all of the garnish to that long length of evergreens does not need to be flattened.  What we arrange in the stock room that is three dimensional needs to get to the job with all of that dimensional quality intact.

This garland took a number of people to unload and hang. Your garland project may not need four people.  You may be able to construct a garland all on your own, and hang it on your own, start to finish. Any gesture in the garden and landscape, no matter the season, that features the work of a pair of hands greatly interests me. The clear evidence of the human hand is what makes the work visually compelling.

To follow are a number of pictures about the installation of this particular lighted garland. We have been constructing garland for this client for the past 10 years.  I am happy to say that this year’s garland is exuberant.


  Happy holidays!



  1. Just exquisite. Flawless. I really enjoy seeing what you do.

  2. buck moffat says

    beautiful Deborah!

  3. Wow! Your clients are so fortunate to have you and your crew create and install so many fabulous designs…Keep up the great work. You are amazing and I am so inspired, thank you so much!


  4. Absolutely beautiful!! You do wonderful work for your clients, and I’m sure they are all thrilled. Thank you so much for all the detail you include for all of us to give it a try for ourselves, since we are so far away from you! Love love your blog Deborah! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  5. Jeannine Eitel says

    Absolutely stunning! Looks amazing the front entrance of this beautiful house!

  6. jeanne durfee says

    How lucky are they!

  7. Stunning! Thanks for sharing. . . makes me smile.

  8. Shirley Stephens says

    Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous!

  9. lisa hansen says


  10. Silvia Weber says

    Beautiful garland.

  11. Ruth Wolery says

    This garland is extremely attractive and catches your attention immediately. This is a blue ribbon winner and really fits this front entry.

  12. It’s absolutely magical. If that were on my house I would be loath to take it down.
    Great job everyone.

  13. JoyceBinAtlanta says

    Love the depth you achieved by using red eucalyptus with the variety of red berries. Looks so simple, but I know it’s not! To have such symmetry takes measuring and care with placement of each item. I can’t tell from the pictures if the sides are free falling or if they are somehow attached. Could those zip ties (?) above the door be holding all the side weight also?
    It’s so elegant in its simplicity. I’m sure your clients love it – and you!

  14. Nancy Martemucci says

    I struggle with adding lights to winter containers especially when the string of lights is really long. Do you add some of the greens, sticks, stems, etc., first then begin to add lights? Please provide the steps you take.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, without watching how you put lights on, it is hard to tell what would help you. But maybe your comment “when the string of lights is really long” is a clue. Finish the container completely. Starting at the end opposite the plug, roll your lights up into a ball that you can easily maneuver. Plug the lights in, and start working the strings into the greens,and then into the upper areas. Work from the bottom of the arrangement to the top. Do a loose trial run. If you end up with too many lights at the top, re-roll the lights and start over-this time bunching more lights into the greens. Or you can roll more lights at the base of the centerpiece to better illuminate that. All this said, we approach the lighting based on what is in the pot. But rolling up the lights will help with whatever technique you use. I hope this helps. best, Deborah

  15. Really stunning. Will you share how you attached this to the door frame/surround? I note someone mentioned zip ties. If that is what is used, are the zip ties strung through eye bolts in the frame? Thanks for all of the inspiration.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Cindy, in the 6th picture, you will see in the upper right corner a screw that has been set into the fascia board,that has a long length of concrete wire attached to it. The concrete wire goes around the entire garland. For a lighter garland, a decent sized eye hook or bolt would work too. I want to say that there are 5 screws spaced out across the top of the fascia. best, Deborah

  16. Wow! Exuberant indeed!

  17. Jennifer Taylor says

    Absolutely beautiful Deborah! Thank you for all the detail too. Merry Christmas to you.

  18. Always gorgeous Deborah…..xo

  19. I am inspired for years by your design. Thank you for every post. I wish, one day I will visit your studio/ shop.
    Merry Christmas to you, your stuff and all your readers.

  20. Martha Ann Wiley says

    All the workers in the shop appear to be bent over, uncomfortably…couldn’t they use a taller work table, maybe a folding one (or more) to be stored away after the “garland season”?? The end result was so beautiful, great job! Merry Christmas to all of you.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Martha Ann,the configuration of our stockroom changes by the hour, depending on the work we have. These cardboard boxes are light enough and easy enough to move around at the drop of a hat. If we set them on the tall side, we would not have enough length to lay out a 25′ garland, much less a 50 footer. The height of those boxes is not ideal-but we can work with it. I did ask my crew about this-they were not too concerned. Although they did tell me that chairs, coffee and donuts would be appreciated! Merry Christmas to you too! all the best, Deborah

  21. Susan Rainey says

    Could you please give us again the brand of your favorite twinkle lights? I tried to look them up here, and found many wonderful things, but not the lights. Thank you very much

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Susan, we favor the Lumineo LED lights. We carry them at the shop, if you want to purchase them and have them shipped. best regards, Deborah

  22. Maxx Döll says

    I am in love…..Love the simplicity and oh, those bleached pine cones 🙂 (latest obsession)…
    Gorgeous girlande Ms. Silver….

  23. So beautiful! Very classy, and you have exceptional landscaping. I am very impressed, may take a few of these ideas when it comes to decorating next year. Thank you for sharing!

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