A few years back, we were introduced to the amaryllis flower by a friend who gifted a growing kit to us in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You have probably seen these kits in grocery and retail stores since they are often given as Christmas gifts or used as a holiday decoration.
I like that flowers and plants are a big part of Christmas whether they adorn the fireplace mantle, staircase or front door or take their place quietly at the table as the centrepiece for the main meal. Our ancestors drew mainly from the nature outside their door to adorn their homes at Christmas and the treasures they collected from the outdoors have remained fixtures of our holiday decor.
While there are a number of good reasons why we have come to rely on artificial greenery to decorate our homes for the holidays, there are still benefits and opportunity to use fragrant greenery, vibrant berry branches and colourful wintertime blooms to bring nature indoors for the season.
Health experts say incorporating natural environments into your home can improve your happiness and well-being. When we engage with nature — whether by walking in it, tending to it, or simply gazing at it — our attentional system gets to rest and restore itself.
Doing things like growing food or flowers, can have lots of positive effects like improving our mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help us feel more relaxed. Helping a plant grow, watching it transform or crafting beautiful arrangements from fresh greenery improves our self-esteem and our confidence.
Bringing nature in has its aromatic benefits too! There’s nothing like a freshly cut Christmas tree to fill the house with delicious scent of spruce and a wreath from cedar branches or eucalyptus not only adds great texture but wonderful aromas as well. Garden centres make the fresh greenery easily available but you can also take a nice healthy walk in nature and carefully gather what you need to add a few touches in your home. Keep your eyes open from pine cones, red willow branches or winter berries that can all add touches of colour and texture to the festivities.
- Juniper: Features fragrant branches and wintry blue-tinted berries.
- Pine: Great for garlands and wreaths.
- Spruce: A classic Christmas greenery with a wintry blue tone to the needles.
- Redwood: Often has tiny pine cones attached.
- Holly: Another classic type of Christmas greenery for wreaths, with bright red berries and spiky leaves.
- Eucalyptus: A year-round option that is often used in cut flowers for Christmas, as well as in wreaths and garlands.
- Fir: Wonderfully fragrant and long-lasting greenery.
- Cedar: Lush with a beautiful drape to the branches. Works great in garlands, wreaths and swags.
- Ivy: Another classic Christmas decoration, ivy is commonly grown in gardens, which means you may have easy access to this variety!
- Boxwood: Festive and long-lasting, which makes it great for indoor Christmas flower decorations.
Poinsettias and amaryllis on the other hand are not brought in for their aromatic features. Their job is to bring a touch of colour and beauty to the decor, and they do it well! Poinsettias have long been synonymous with Christmas, and it’s not hard to see why. Their deep-red colour is the perfect complement to holiday decorations.
In our home, the amaryllis is now featured annually as part of our Christmas decor since being initiated to its charm and beauty. Thankfully, it is easy to grow so that even the most inattentive grower like myself will succeed with this plant and after a few weeks of watching it grow quickly and tall, we are delighted every year by the spectacular cluster of large trumpet shaped red flowers that bloom and stay throughout the holiday season.
These stunning flowers are believed to mean pride, strength and determination and they certainly embody these qualities as they stand tall above all other winter blooms.
When you think about it, humans evolved on earth amongst the grasslands surrounded by trees and plants. It is little wonder that they make us feel more comfortable when they surround us, since they have fed our bodies and our souls all that time. I guess that’s why we need them around at Christmas too!