Holiday time used to be recognized just by its unique aroma. Remember when the garland went on the mantel or the tree came in the front door? The aromatic smell of fresh cut evergreen said Christmas was surely on the way!
Oranges or grapefruit, wrapped in ribbon and pierced with cloves, became fragrant additions to the garland or the tree. A bowl of lemons with fresh-cut juniper or cedar sprigs made a colorful, deliciously-scented centerpiece on the dining room table. In the kitchen, we placed a cone, studded with apples, holly and ivy, to be our small, meaningful reminder that holidays are a time of delight wherever we were in the house!
A real treat for the nose was the making of cinnamon pine cones. These were used to adorn the tree or fill a basket kept near the fireplace. Cinnamon sticks would be placed in a large pot with water and boiled until the liquid reduced in half. We then added a little vegetable oil and soaked the pine cones for a few minutes to let them absorb some of the liquid. They were then spread on newspaper and allowed to dry overnight before becoming a decoration—either stacked in a basket with fresh cut pine and berries or ribbon woven, at the fat end, to become a tree ornament.
What do all these scented memories have in common? They can all be easily recreated with things you can find in your very own backyard (or your neighbor’s). Here on the Northshore, we are so fortunate to have so many fragrances of Christmas readily available: evergreens, citrus, pecans, holly and more. You may have to purchase cinnamon sticks and apples, but there probably is a grocery minutes away!
What a fun and “scents-ible” project it would be to plan an evening get together with family, friends and neighbors to create some natural, aromatic holiday décor! Those moments, those projects will help remind us every day that the holiday season can and should be a delight for all our senses. Merry, Merry!
Email your gardening questions to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.