Foliage for Christmas and GBFD

At this time of year I wander round the garden, secateurs at the ready, to snip foliage for decorating the house and somewhere else. Of course it is the good old standby evergreens and gold that are being cut. Usually laurel, ivy,euonymous, pittosporum, mahonia, choisya,  fatshedera, cornus,  next door’s Leylandii (sh!) and of course, anything else that looks good enough to cut.

Back border

The back border is a good place to start as I can cut from all these bushes, I usually try to take from round the back so that it isn’t obvious that I have been snipping. The fir has a lovely blue tinge to it which contrasts nicely with the variegated laurel and then of course the cotoneaster contrasts with both of them. Decided not to pick the berries as there weren’t very many of them left, thought the birds need was greater than mine! While wandering around we noticed that a rhododendron and a japanese azalea were flowering, we also had to be so careful where we were walking among the plants as so many bulbs were up already.


The choisya is flowering for the third time and looking really pretty, the flowers will look nice in the decorations.


I know that lots of people don’t like this variegated laurel, but I find it invaluable at this time of year and also when flower arranging at church.


I can always find lots of green ivy at the backs of my borders but sometimes I need a touch of a lighter colour.


My Fatshedera is still only small, maybe because I cut it too much ! but I think I can spare a bit.


Mahonia leaves are so architectural and form a lovely contrast.


Pittosporum always needs a trim, I can be quite ruthless here!


Yes, it’s my favourite cornus again, just cutting 2 or 3 stems from each of my 14 shrubs means that no-one would know that I have been snipping.


Euonymous “Emerald and Gold” gives contrasting colour  to whatever I am arranging. Also snipped some Bergenia leaves, they’re so useful for hiding the oasis.


I think that is enough now, time to leave them to have a really good long drink before arranging them tonight. I must tell you that I am definitely not a flower arranger, I would rather leave plants and flowers in the garden but at certain times of the year, needs must. When doing these foliage arrangements I always try to place the leaves so that there is a contrast of colour, shape and texture, I feel it makes them more interesting.


It is now Thursday 22nd December and the mantlepiece is now decorated and ready, doesn’t the house smell wonderful when cut pine is brought into the house, it adds to all the other Christmas cooking smells. We stopped having a tree and decorate other areas when we had our dog, she was a retriever X, so looked like a very tall thin retriever with a very long , strong, waggy tail, one wag and she would have had any tree over !!


The cornus make a very simple arrangement just placed in a plain white vase, simple but effective I hope.

Church foliage

The other arrangements are now ready but they have a journey to make first.

Foliage in car

Off we go, have to remember to drive carefully round corners and not brake suddenly!


I think of the foliage arrangement as a frame for what should be the centre of attention, the Christmas Crib. Everything is in place now at church, ready for Midnight Mass on Saturday.

I wish you all a very happy, holy and peaceful Christmas.

If you have enjoyed this post about foliage, please  go to    to see what others are doing with their foliage at this time of year.

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18 Responses to Foliage for Christmas and GBFD

  1. So nice, Pauline. I really miss flower arranging this time of year, love the different textures you got with the foliage.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and the best for 2012.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Deborah, I love playing with the different colours, shapes and textures of the leaves in the garden at this time of year. Best wishes to you for a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Wonderful arrangements. Holly with berries have been a bit thin on the ground this year but it still looks good with the ivy and white candles. Enjoy the Festive Season, Pauline.

  3. Rachael says:

    It all looks very festive. I saw a beautiful Christmas wreath recently, made from Cornus, it was very simple but looked stunning. See you on monday, R x

  4. Fun post. I love all of the foliage choices you have in your garden. I am definitely light on evergreens here, since there was only one at all when we moved in four years ago. But our little baby evergreens are coming along.

    Merry Christmas to you!

    • Pauline says:

      Your evergreens will soon grow, then they will become part of your Christmas decorations. I wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas!

  5. catmint says:

    what a lot of wonderful foliage plants you have, and lovely arrangements.

  6. beautiful foliage arrangments Pauline, here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all best wishes for 2012, Frances

  7. Alberto says:

    Pauline, sorry if I’m late but I want to wish a Merry Christmas anyway!
    I liked your foliage arrangements, especially the one by the mantlepiece and the simple but very effective red cornus.

    • Pauline says:

      Never too late Alberto, thank you for Christmas wishes, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too.Glad you liked the foliage and my favourite red Cornus!

  8. Christina says:

    Hi Pauline, a very belated comment and big thank you for this great Foliage post. I love to have real foliage decoration the house at Christmas; as you’ll have seen, we spent Christmas and the New Year in the US and it was difficult to get on line for very long. I posted all the links as soon as I could but found it difficult to comment on each post. Hope you’ll post something this Sunday 22nd of the month too. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for leaving a comment Christina, hope you had a really wonderful Christmas, doesn’t that seem a long time ago now! The red Cornus stems that I put in the white vase have rooted and are now flowering, anyone want a hedge!? Am already eyeing up the foliage ready for Sunday.

  9. Tim says:

    You have the gift of an artists eye Pauline. The arrangements look stunning. Where I would see a bunch of branches and foliage to manage you create beautiful centre pieces. Also your rhododendron looks very happy and healthy. I planted one a number of years ago and I believe I loved it to death as it quickly wilted and died. Possibly too much water.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Tim, you are very kind, I quite often feel that foliage arrangements look just as good without flowers as long as there is plenty of contrast with colour, shape and texture of all the leaves. The Rhododendron is still flowering in spite of the frost that has just started here, not looking quite as happy though, sorry yours died!!

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