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Decorating for the Holidays with Natural Materials

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Decorating  for the Holidays with Natural Materials

I was given the task of decorating the Kemper Center for the holidays this year. I love to decorate my house, but decorating the Kemper Center is an especially unique task, as we use all natural materials. Flowers are cut, air dried and made into small bouquets and, of course, our tree is adorned with gourds that staff and volunteers decorate every year. This year I thought I might try something different: bring in colors, low-maintenance projects and give visitors ideas for their own holiday decorations. I asked my volunteers for their input and we came up with some really good ideas for ornaments, wreaths and other decorations.

Ornaments made with orange slices. Slice oranges about ¼” thick, pat dry, place on a lined cookie sheet or right on the oven rack, and bake in the oven for 4-6 hours on the lowest oven setting (150 degrees), turning over after 2 hours if using the cookie sheet. Let them cool (about 24 hours) and you are ready to start. Decoupage the orange (both sides), hot glue a cinnamon stick in the center, string a bell and some red beads or dried cranberries on light weight floral wire, insert the wire through the bottom of the orange then back through the top and make a loop with the wire. Hot glue a bow (whatever color you prefer) and you have a great ornament for your tree.

My Tuesday morning volunteer, Barb, said she had heard about drying Osage oranges (Maclura pomifera). I did some research on the internet and found that they can be dried to use in arrangements and decorations. The problem with Osage oranges is that the sap is like glue. Wear rubber gloves or you may develop a rash. A serrated knife works best (throw away after use) and make the slices about ¼” thick. Place them on a lined cookie sheet. There are 2 ways of drying them: oven dry the same way you did with the oranges but for 7 hours (creates a pungent odor in the house), or just air dry them (which takes 2 weeks). The oven drying makes the ends turn a little brown and air drying keeps most of their green color. It looks amazing, but as they dry the tips curl up and look like flowers. Wire the centers with florist wire (a little heavier than the wire used for the oranges). I recommend to decoupage both sides of the slices. You are ready to wire the slices to a grapevine wreath or arrange them in a centerpiece for your Christmas table.

Cinnamon stick stars. Any size cinnamon stick will work but I wanted large stars. I found 12” cinnamon sticks at spicesforless.com. A basic star pattern was used (5 pointed); the ends were hot glued and strung with red ribbon.

A good resource for garden pests is the  Advice, Tips and Resources  page found in Gardening Help. It has detailed information on all the pests that might decide to visit your garden.

Debbie Kirkpatrick, Kemper Horticulture Assistant
Special thanks to the Kemper Center volunteers: Valerie, Leon, Jean, Sarah, Barb, Deb, Linda, Madelyn, Bonnie, Sophie, Judy, Mary, Stephanie and Irene.

| Categories: Winter | Tags: Holdays, Chirstmas, Osage orange, cinnamon | View Count: (2491) | Return
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