IN MANY WAYS, evergreen boughs are the signature of our place. And there’s no better occasion than the winter holidays to celebrate their diversity of color and form, fragrance and variety. This year, see the season with a gardener’s eyes for a fresh take on holiday décor.
Hannah Morgan is a gardener and an artist with pruning shears in hand whose work celebrates the beauty of the natural world. Hannah is the owner and lead designer of Fortunate Orchard, a floral studio and cutting garden in the Madison Park neighborhood. “My design work shifts with every season,” she says. Morgan depends on West Coast flower farmers to provide her with beautiful cultivated blooms and turns to her landscape for additional foliage, texture and the little details that make her designs unique and very much grounded in the garden. Winter is no exception.
“Through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, I’m able to source a variety of evergreen boughs that diverge from the traditional cedar and pine,” Morgan says. Her favorites include long-needled variegated pine in shades of green and gold, icy blue cypress, and Cryptomeria foliage in a range of tones and textures. She pairs golden and limey evergreens with interesting bits of nature in red and orange, like rosehips and holly or Pyracantha berries. If she’s working with a cooler color palette of foliage in blue and purple, she selects natural accents in white, dark blue and burgundy from juniper berries, snowberry or deep crimson rosehips to accent the frosty hues. “Moss-covered branches and cones complement any shade of evergreen,” she says.
Morgan recommends looking around your garden for interesting details that will hold well out of water. “Or, take a walk in the woods after a windstorm to collect a few items from the forest floor,” she says. Be a good citizen: Never pick, only gather downed branches, cones and lichen.
When creating authentic garden-driven holiday décor, look beyond traditional conifers, and include snippets of broad-leaved evergreen shrubs like Pieris, Mahonia and variegated Leucothoe. Nandina berries, crabapples and the brilliant metallic blue berries on Viburnum tinus are nature’s ornaments in the winter landscape and add colorful accents to indoor decorations as well.
No garden of your own to plunder? Offer to trade cookies for clippings of interesting botanicals from friends’ and neighbors’ yards. My people know I’m their go-to source for fresh, fragrant bay leaves.
Starting with a handmade (or purchased) grapevine wreath as your base, attach greens with sturdy twine to build up lush layers of color and texture for a beautifully natural (and fully compostable) holiday centerpiece. Or adorn a store-bought wreath with foraged botanical bits and berries to create a unique and interesting Northwest treasure. Don’t stop there; gather downed birch twigs, or cut colorful dogwood stems and twist them into tiny wreaths to mark holiday place settings and top packages.
Scout your local nursery for a selection of interesting greens and fresh botanicals. Seattle Wholesale Growers Market is open to the public on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon. Or support local artisans, and purchase a custom wreath. Visit FortunateOrchard.com for a list of seasonal pop-up markets and hands-on workshops where Morgan is offering her bountiful wreaths and garlands.