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posted: 12/3/2017 6:00 AM

Decorate the garden for the holidays

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  • Chickens in the author's garden get red ribbon scarves for the holidays.

    Chickens in the author's garden get red ribbon scarves for the holidays.
    Courtesy of Diana Stoll

By Diana Stoll

As we begin holiday decorating, the Christmas tree goes up festooned with all the trimmings, lush roping is hung around the front door and containers are filled with greens, pine cones and berries. This year, let's not stop there. Let's decorate the garden for the holidays, too.

There are so many inexpensive ways to add holiday touches in the landscape and many of them are fun projects to do with children. Here are just a few to get your imagination in the holiday spirit.

We have all dipped pine cones in peanut butter and rolled them in birdseed to hang from tree branches for our feathered friends. This year, add a red bow. And while you are at it, add red bows to other pieces of statuary in the garden to give them a seasonal flair, too.

Outline obelisks with Christmas lights. If obelisks are not already a part of the décor, consider this inexpensive option. Turn an inexpensive, round tomato cage upside down, wire its legs together at the top and wrap it with lights and your favorite holiday ribbon.

Before you put that roll of ribbon away, use it to edge window boxes, hang birdhouses from branches, and tie bows at the tops of birdfeeders.

Hang roping along deck railings and around arbors and pergolas. Add lights to make them sparkle and a collection of seed heads and berries from the garden to add interest.

Fashion a Christmas tree for the garden from terra cotta pots. Start with the largest pot you have and stack them in decreasing sizes as you work your way toward the top. Paint them green and then let the kids decorate it by dipping the tips of their fingers in red paint to press berries on the tree and then in yellow to paint strings of lights.

Place a small bench within view of a favorite window for observing the winter landscape. Hang a small wreath on the back of the bench and set a container of greens, branches and berries beside it. Put a shepherd hook on the other side to hang a bird feeder. You will enjoy this view long after the holidays, too.

Create a country Christmas scene near the garden shed. String an old-fashioned clothesline from the shed to a nearby tree. Hang red stockings and scarves, red plaid flannel shirts and some red long johns from the line. Complete the scene with a galvanized washtub poised on a plant stand with an old washboard inside.

Or make a vintage holiday vignette. Lay a buffalo plaid blanket on a garden bench or the rocking chair on the front porch. Hang a pair of ice skates over the arm and lean an old sled against it. Toss a pair of red mittens on the seat as a finishing touch.

How about displaying a Christmas picnic? Toss an old red tablecloth over the picnic table. Make a centerpiece from a birch log drilled for tea lights and place birch logs in the fire pit nearby. An old picnic basket holding a thermos and some greens would make this scene complete.

Don't stop holiday decorating with some roping and a couple of containers filled with greens. Spread Christmas cheer throughout the landscape.

• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist, garden writer and the garden center manager at The Planter's Palette in Winfield. She blogs at