When it comes to creating beautiful holiday centerpieces, Holly Sauder has found that having a big heart is more important than a green thumb.
For the past several years, Sauder has invited the public to join her in using fresh greenery to make festive arrangements to be donated to senior citizens along with their home-delivered meals. It’s the combination of agencies of Geauga Park District, Geauga Department on Aging and Geauga County Farm Bureau member Bob Rogish that make it happen. The decorations provide holiday cheer to those who make and receive them, Sauder said.
“Everyone can make a lovely arrangement, it doesn’t matter what floral skills you have,” said Sauder, who serves as the outreach coordinator for the Geauga Park District in Chardon. “The most important thing is a willingness to give of your time. Our volunteers love the idea of brightening a senior’s holiday.”
Decorations made with fresh greenery can really add to the holiday experience, said Rogish of Rogish Farm in Chesterland. He and his wife, Amy, donate the greenery — in the form of Christmas trees — that the park district uses to create the holiday arrangements. “A centerpiece made from real branches will provide a nice aroma for your home,” he said. “If someone doesn’t put up a tree, it’s another way to make their table a focal point for the holidays.”
He loves supporting the program because it’s a great example of how caring Geauga County is. “It’s a place where you know your neighbor and you’re happy to help your neighbor out,” said the lifelong resident.
In addition to fresh greenery, the park district provides pine cones, bows and other holiday-themed decorations for the volunteers who make the arrangements. With those simple elements, it’s easy for anyone to make a beautiful arrangement, added Patti Boyert of Boyert’s Greenhouse & Farm in Medina.
“It’s possible to do it using a lot of things you have around the house,” she said.
She suggests starting in the yard. Many typical landscaping plants can be incorporated into cheerful holiday decorations, she said. She and her husband and Ohio Farm Bureau board member, Mike, regularly use clippings from boxwoods, pine trees, holly bushes and other common plants in the arrangements they sell at the greenhouse during the holidays.
For indoor arrangements, the Medina County Farm Bureau members recommend using floral foam that can be moistened to keep the decorations fresh. Look around the house for something to hold the arrangement—rather than buy something, Patti said. A vase or holiday-colored bowl will make a great base for an arrangement of greenery, she said.
Consider reusing a pot that held summer flowers for outdoor arrangements, said Lorain County Farm Bureau member and Ohio Farm Bureau board member Al DiVencenzo of DiVencenzo Family Tree Farm in Grafton. Once the flowers have been removed, it’s easy to stick in greenery like blue spruce or white pine or other plants with interesting textures, he said. “You can use any greens you have access to,” he said. “It’s an easy DIY.”
(Editor’s Note: Al DiVencenzo passed away unexpectedly in July 2018. He received posthumously Ohio Farm Bureau’s Cooperative/Agricultural Educator Award at the 100th Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in December.)
How to Create a Porch Pot with Greenery
Include cuttings from several types of plants so the arrangement has a variety of textures. (Simply dampen the dirt and then poke them into it.)
Consider adding decorative elements – like grapevine balls, Christmas ornaments or ribbon – to add interest and color.
Include something that will drape over the edge of your container.
Add a string of lights – remember there are great battery-powered options – to make the arrangement more appealing at night.
Use a pot that will hold up to winter temperatures. (Terra cotta and thin plastic are likely to crack in cold weather.)