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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Nov 30

Holiday Decorating

Posted on November 30, 2017 at 2:42 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

The decorative fallen leaves have withered and dried, the pumpkins found their way into pies, the fading chrysanthemums have been pruned back, and the nuts and dried corn spilling from the cornucopia have served their purpose. All that autumn splendor is now in dire need of a change. December is here: Bring on the greens, berries and poinsettias. 

bird-friendly ornaments
Top to bottom: Cutting suet ornaments with cookie cutters, hollow log with leftover suet, and ingredients ready for making for birdseed pinecone ornaments
Holiday decorating can be fun for us as well as our feathered friends. The three blue spruces (Picea pungens ‘Glauca’) growing in the front yard are a natural attraction for bird-friendly ornaments. Making these ornaments takes minimal time with ingredients you probably already have at hand. 

Use cookie cutters to cut suet into the perfect star shapes for hanging on trees. Ball up the remaining pieces and place them on an open decorative dish, or insert the pieces into a hollowed-out log. 

Fallen pinecones are another great resource for making attractive ornaments. Here’s what else you’ll need: a jar of peanut butter (low salt or natural is best), a bit of cornmeal or oatmeal, your feathered friend's favorite seed, and a bit of twine for hanging up the treat. Add the oatmeal or cornmeal to the peanut butter to thicken, then smear a healthy layer between the scales. Roll the peanut-buttered pinecone in seeds to embed the seeds well into the scales of the cone. Wrap the twine several rows above the scales, and secure your ornament to the shady side of a tree branch to prevent the peanut butter from melting. This high-protein diet will be a huge hit for those little chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and wrens. You might consider gathering neighborhood friends, children or grandchildren to share in this activity. It could turn into an annual event: Couple the above ingredients with a favorite hot beverage and let the projects begin.

It was my good fortune to have a lot of holly this year, although perhaps not as fortunate for the beautiful holly plant obscuring the view from the kitchen window of our family cabin. Upon my recent visit, I found my daughter Lynette had utilized the loppers to open up the view. All that beautiful holly lay in wait as this gardener's wheels started turning: Visions of holly wreaths, door sprays and decorative additions in vases filled my head. Alas, leather gloves are mandatory for working with this plant. For that reason, I found it was not a plant many took an interest in sharing; prickly pears or cacti would be as welcome. As a side note: Consider the maximum heights and widths of any plant before placing it in the ground ... especially prickly ones!

And speaking of cacti: A retired friend from MMWD gave me two Christmas cacti a few years ago. One of them bloomed this Thanksgiving. The glorious whites mingled with the rare yellow blooms was a show not to be missed. The second cactus is surely holding out for a later December main entrance. 

Lastly, the winter rainstorm came with high winds that scattered mistletoe about the back deck. Many little fallen sprigs carried the white berries. Mistletoe can be toxic, so be cautious around children and pets. With that, mistletoe is always a fun decoration. A tiny bow and a sprig of mistletoe positioned on a spray of cedar foliage makes for a lovely, tiny bouquet. 

Let the holidays begin!

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