Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Decorating with Leave Behinds


Hello Fellow Readers,

Long-shadows-on-snowOld man winter sure arrived early with an ice storm followed by snow the weekend after Thanksgiving. The morning after, the trees glistened in the sunshine as if they were glass. Below, the sun cast long shadows of trees on the pristine frosting of white. Sadly, there were many downed trees and branches wreaking havoc; many folks were without power for several days. It’s thought-provoking how the world can be so beautiful and, at the same time, be challenging to maneuver through. Perhaps such events allow us to take note of the gifts of convenience we have day-to-day.

Not overshadowing Thanksgiving backfired a bit.

Between the storm and shortened time between holidays, Mom’s embedded belief to not overshadow Thanksgiving with Christmas preparations backfired a bit. Branches became weighed down, so adding sparkling outdoor lights wasn’t possible until after things thawed. The good news is the storm made for plenty of easy pickings of evergreen branches during walks with Miss Ellie. Which recalls a column written a handful of years ago titled Winter Decorating with Roadkill – fallen leave-behinds along the road (link below).

Decorating with garden and roadside finds 

Winter-Decorating-with-Garden-FindsWhite pine mixed with spruce, cedar, or hemlock branches serves as a perfect first layer for pots or window boxes. Topped with berry-laden holly and other finds from your garden such as dried astilbe and hydrangea flowers, ornamental grass plumes, pinecones, and anything else that tickles your fancy makes for a beautiful seasonal display.

I looked upon the landscape and saw beauty, though I felt the pain of the trees. Our woodland was forever changed by three back-to-back Nor’easters two years ago that toppled several old hemlocks. One was over two hundred years old. Fallen branches from the post-T-Day storm added new litter on top of the massive trunks. It’s the cycle of nature; I remind myself to soothe the sadness. They drop their branches to decay into the dear earth to create nutrition for the next generation of growth.

After the storm, the ice and snow-encrusted branches were bowing down to the ground. As the temperatures rose, they began to become free of ice and snow and popped back into position as if to say, “I’m fine. I’m resilient.” A week after the storm, with some snow still on the trees, we adorned white lights on the cherished Umbrella Pine, lights we’ll enjoy throughout the winter.

Beauty beyond the sadness

There can be beauty beyond the sadness of change and loss. As there is beauty in gathering the fallen branches and bits and pieces left by nature to create decorations that deck the halls and jolly our hearts. Garden Dilemmas?

Winter Decorating with Road Kill, Decorating Winter Pots

Harvesting ‘Roadkill’

Link to Winter Decorating with Roadkill

There’s more to the story in Episode 8 of the Garden Dilemmas Podcast

Column updated 12/10/22


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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