As the weather starts to chill, however, I’m turning my thoughts to natural holiday décor.
Ivy (Hedera helix), of course, is one of the traditional plants of the winter holidays, along with fir, laurel, mistletoe, and holly. Ivy varieties range from bright green to frosted variegated leaves, so you can use this versatile plant in any holiday décor — on a mantle with poinsettias, in a bright-colored bowl (add fresh flowers if you want more color), or growing in a moss ball hung in your front entryway (also known as a kissing ball -- the ivy form of mistletoe).
Ivy has a long history of decorative use. The custom of decking the halls with ivy for the holidays date back to Roman times. Associated with Bacchus, the Roman god of good times, ivy was also a symbol of fidelity and was presented to brides and grooms in ancient Greece. Associations of happiness and fidelity — what a lovely horticultural subliminal message to send!
You can also use ivy tendrils. Clip a long stem then wrap it into a tiny wreath for a table setting. (It’s like plastic wrap — it clings to itself.) Since it's so pliable, you can twine it around the base of a candlestick. Cut ivy stems will last longer in cool weather, so they are ideal for last-minute additions to wreaths. Add sprigs of ivy tied into the ribbon on holiday packages. Or string tendrils into a crystal chandelier for a bit of green flourish for a dinner party.
Written by Karen Weir-Jimerson