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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Welcoming Christmas

Creative ideas can spruce up home’s entrance during holidays

Susan Mulvihill I Correspondent

With the holiday season under way, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing and start decorating. There’s no better place to start than the entrance to our homes, because that’s the first thing people see when they stop by for a visit.

With that in mind, Carol Newcomb, owner of Northland Rosarium southwest of Spokane, recently invited some friends over to make festive pots and wreaths to dress up their porches and front doors.

There was no shortage of creative ideas between Newcomb, Phyllis Hathaway, Terry Klement, Lindy Heine and Billi Bellinger.

Each brought clippings of foliage and dried flowers, pine cones, decorative pots, ribbon, ornaments, spray paint and more.

Bellinger, an artist whose specialty is metalworking, made wire obelisks and metal dragonfly stakes for the women to incorporate into their projects.

In addition to cedar and spruce branches, they brought some unusual plant materials from their gardens.

Branches of Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) have dark brown bark and bright red berries. The foliage from Variegated Elk Horn Cedar or False Arborvitae (Thujopsis dolabrata variegata) is made up of light and dark scales.

“I like to place it upside-down in my wreaths and holiday arrangements,” Hathaway said, “because the scaling adds a frosty look to them.”

Another stunning material was the branches from Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica glauca). The silvery-grey foliage shimmers when placed next to the dark foliage of other evergreens.

The supply of flowers included dried hydrangeas, Autumn Joy sedum and the wispy flower heads of Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

In addition to the holly berries, the women selected branches of the Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) with its white berries and Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), which has purple berries.

They trimmed branches from crabapple trees and Mountain Ash. Newcomb supplied branches of large rose hips from the Rugosa rose, “Pristine Pavement.”

They also picked up branches of Pittosporum with variegated leaves and seeded eucalyptus from a local florist.

“The eucalyptus adds an ethereal look to arrangements,” Hathaway said, “and if you use them indoors, it smells great.”

Once all of the materials were sorted into piles, the women went to work.

Some had brought large pots from home, with the idea of placing them on either side of their front doors once they were finished decorating them. Others brought wreath forms and items from local shopping trips.

For example, Heine recently found eye-catching peacock and hummingbird ornaments at the Madison Country store in North Spokane. She also picked up fall floral pieces from Michael’s craft stores.

“They were marked down to 90 percent off,” she said. “Since they’re in fall colors, I’ll spray them with gold paint and a bit of glitter and they’ll work perfectly in the holiday arrangements I’m making.”

Heine used the peacock ornament and some feathers for a stunning wreath that came together quickly (see accompanying information box for assembly instructions).

“I bought a pre-made wreath at Costco for $15,” she explained. “I have so many projects to do, it’s much faster to have a wreath that’s already made and just tweak it.”

Newcomb created a charming piece for her back deck with a large, decorative wire wheelbarrow.

She wove gold ribbon in and out of the wire filigree, filled it with evergreen boughs and added branches of rose hips for some color. Then she nestled a weathered concrete angel in the evergreen boughs and placed concrete birds on the deck next to it.

Klement filled a pot for her front porch with Arizona cypress, Winterberry branches, Pittosporum, Common snowberries sprayed with a pearly dew spray paint, sedum flower heads, contorted filbert and Japanese silver grass.

“I enjoy choosing different textures for my arrangements,” she said.

She then placed one of Bellinger’s dragonfly stakes in the center for an accent.

Hathaway brought two decorative pots for her front porch décor. Using wire obelisks in the center, she wove grapevines around them and added in greenery and accents at the bases of the obelisks.

Red bows and small holiday lights completed the look she was after. (Refer to information box for step-by-step instructions.)

As this group easily demonstrated, it just took a little imagination and some interesting shared materials to brighten up their front doors for the holidays.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via e-mail at
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