Garden Photo of the Day

Earth-Friendly Holiday Decor in PA

By Kim Charles

Bonnie Pancoast from Eastern Pennsylvania creates decor for the holiday season using elements found right in her own backyard.

“One of the many advantages of living in the country is access to natural items to create holiday décor. It begins in autumn with pumpkins, gourds and grapevines which are then added to Christmas creations. I find it difficult to give up on the pumpkins and gourds as their beauty adds holiday cheer. Over the past few years I have dried and cleaned birdhouse gourds to use again as well as ventured into the woods to gather grapevines and pinecones to use in various projects. In the following photos, all natural items including greens are from our property. The gourds were also grown on the property and the pumpkins were purchased from nearby farms.”

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  1. perenniallycrazy 12/21/2016

    It's amazing that you are able to source all your holiday decor from your property. I wish I could do that. I love those osange oranges and those swan neck gourds of yours. How large is your property? Happy Holidays Bonnie!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

      Hey Cherry - Good work being the first to comment - and without having a timezone advantage (late night or early morning?)! Since I reckon you have a good sense of humour, here is a Xmas wreath with an Aussie twist (crimson rosellas and king parrots). Cheers from Oz

      1. user-4691082 12/21/2016

        I love the wreath!!!!!

      2. user-7007498 12/21/2016

        Got me to smile to start the day with your "wreath".

      3. User avater
        meander_michaele 12/21/2016

        Oh, my gosh, Frank, the laugh is on me...I stared and stared at this picture wondering what the different colored elements were made of. Then I went away to read something else and came back to your picture and "ding, ding, ding...the lightbulb went off in my dim brain. How could I not have seen right away that they are gorgeous colorful birds? Of course, now that I know, it seems impossible that I didn't see it correctly from the beginning.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

          Aussie humour can set you on the wrong track, Michaele. Got there in the end though, which is the main thing. I hope you are fully recovered from your op. etc. Have a great Xmas/Holiday period. Cheers, Frank

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 12/21/2016

            Doing great, thanks, Frank...back to my Christmas elf duties with full gusto.

      4. sheila_schultz 12/21/2016

        Very cool, Frank!

      5. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/21/2016

        I think I need this wreath!
        Such beautiful birds. I know that parrots can be destructive at times, but it seems so fabulously exotic to have these colorful, intelligent birds native.

        1. perenniallycrazy 12/21/2016

          Can you imagine the clean-up with this living wreath? ...and my GF Sylvia complains about the shedding of fresh wreaths...

          1. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/21/2016

            Wow. I had not even considered clean up!!

        2. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

          Hi Tim - Yes the rosellas and parrots are lovely birds. Some of the cockatoos can be destructive at times e.g. sharpening they beaks and dropping lots of twigs/shoots of trees - but they too are lovely birds.

          1. user-4711274 12/21/2016

            How did you get them to line up like that? Just kidding! Blond humor! Merry Christmas everyone!!

          2. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

            Hey Deborah - I know from your previous comments that you GET Aussie humour. Thanks for that. Have a lovely Xmas and happy new year. Cheers, Frank

      6. Kim_Charles 12/21/2016

        Love this Frank! Happy Holidays!

      7. User avater
        LindaonWhidbey 12/21/2016

        You have the most colorful birds in OZ Frank, and well trained, too:)

      8. perenniallycrazy 12/21/2016

        There's nothing more ALIVE than the christmas wreath you sent me... and I thought the ones I have fun making were fresh and living but required some clean up due to shedding. It's nice to hear from you Frank. I thought for a second you were avoiding me.... About being first to comment, well, it was probably quite obvious that I was the last to comment on Tim's Day but like they say better late than never. Wishing you and yours a fun-filled and wacky Christmas! Now off to the races for me...

        1. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

          Cherry, trust me, I have not been trying to avoid you. However, now that I know that you do have a sense of humour (e.g. 'wacky' Xmas), watch out! If horse racing is your thing, and if you are ever coming down under, make sure you are here on the first Tuesday in November for the Melbourne Cup. Apart from the best thoroughbreds in the world, the elegant fashions on the field and the spectacular rose displays, some of the 100,000 people dress up in crazy outfits. It is a fantastic fun day, and it would be right up your alley. Cheers, Frank

          1. perenniallycrazy 12/22/2016

            I know nothing about horse racing so I assume you would be a BAD influence on me if I ever visit Down Under. Bring 'em on!

          2. frankgreenhalgh 12/22/2016

            Hey Cherry - what sort of 'races' did you refer to then?????

    2. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      I live on two acres in the country. When I drive back roads I'm always on the lookout for items to use around no the gardens. I had a 5 year old tulip poplar break when a black walnut branch fell on it. I took the top piece, turned it upside down and wove grape vines through it . It is now a natural sculpture in my garden!

      1. perenniallycrazy 12/22/2016

        I'd love to see a photo if you care to share. I can't even begin to imagine what a treat 2 acres would be. My garden is a mere 1000 sq ft.

        1. bonniep53 12/22/2016

          Perhaps one winter's day I will submit photos for consideration of the gardens, thank you!

  2. frankgreenhalgh 12/21/2016

    Hello there Bonnie - Congratulations on your innovative and interesting displays made from local produce, foliage and materials. How could you not get into the Xmas spirit entering your garden and seeing your wonderful creations? Great photography too. Cheers, Frank

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Thank you! Living in the country is magical.

  3. user-4691082 12/21/2016

    Bonnie, your property is so natural. It is very calming to look at your creations, in this busy time of year. I love the color of the variegated euonymus in the first photo. And the Osage oranges- beautiful! Thanks for the aah moment!

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Thank you!

  4. user-7007498 12/21/2016

    Bonnie, love the gourds and the greens. Very festive and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      You're welcome!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/21/2016

    You and Mother Nature make a great decorating team, Bonnie. I know what you mean about hating to say goodbye to perfectly good pumpkins and gourds when Thanksiving is over . By committing to a more organic color palette for Christmas, they continue to work perfectly as objects of ornamentation. I like that!

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      And what is so much fun is the decor is different every year!

  6. tennisluv 12/21/2016

    Bonnie, love all your natural decorations. The gourds and pumpkins, never thought to hold them over into Christmas, add just the right touch of earthiness when added to your plethora of greens. The red gourd nestled in the cone nest wrapped in grape vine is especially nice.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      That one started out dyed a light green but this year I wanted more vibrant reds so I painted it again!

  7. NCYarden 12/21/2016

    Well done, Bonnie. Way to keep putting the garden to use. I really like that pine cone wreath - it's kinda mesmerizing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      You are welcome!

  8. user-3565112 12/21/2016

    Thank you Bonnie for posting your terrific creations. Everyone is original & the snow on the pumpkins & gourds is a beautiful finishing touch by Mother Nature.
    Merry Christmas & happy New Year to you & your family, Good Luck,Joe

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Merry Christmas!

  9. cynthiamccain 12/21/2016

    Beautiful and inspirational, Bonnie! You have a wonderful setting for your works of art.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Thank you, the property is a blessing. Behind my home the property is actually a glen with a spring fed stream at the bottom.

  10. Cenepk10 12/21/2016

    Wow... very nice. You got Cherry's gene. Very sophisticated, clever creations. Jealous over here.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Aww, thank you!

  11. sheila_schultz 12/21/2016

    Very impressive Bonnie, you certainly have a wealth of beauty on and around your property! Enjoy the holidays!

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  12. Sunshine111 12/21/2016

    Your use of natural materials is creative and divine! Many blessings to you and your loved ones this holiday season.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      And to you and yours.

  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/21/2016

    These are all so nice, Bonnie. I love any use of pine cones and I've always been crazy about Osage Orange. Does your grapevine tuteur stay out all year? Looks like a great place for a small clematis to scramble.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Yes I keep it out all year and move it to different locations in the gardens. I also made one that is in the house with twinkle lights inside it.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/21/2016

        That's very cool. I remember making a grapevine 'Christmas tree' one year for a friend. Really a nice, rustic touch.

  14. Coveside 12/21/2016

    Lovely. Particularly like the use of the red wooden stool to create verticality.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Love to use vintage pieces in the gardens. I shop thrift stores for my pieces.

  15. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 12/21/2016

    Bonnie, I share your love of using what is found on our property for decorating and am always amazed at what I find. The first year in the PNW, I had both holly and snow berries on my table until my daughter pointed out how poisonous those berries can be and how interesting to grandchildren. Now those are outdoor decorations:) I love the painted red gourd and also the photo with the red stool. Thanks for sharing your creative decorations.

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Thank you, and yes I agree it is important to know what we bring inside with children and pets. Thank goodness we have our outside canvas!

  16. bonniep53 12/21/2016

    I've grown gourds for about 5 years now. I start using them as decor in September and they end by being food for squirrels and deer in February.

    1. User avater
      meander_michaele 12/21/2016

      Here's what might be a dumb question, Bonnie, but do you plan strategically when sowing seeds for pumpkins and gourds...meaning, I guess, staggering the timing of when you put the seeds in the ground. The time or two when I've natural seed germination take place from throwing pumpkins in the compost pile, they seem to ripen too early and by Halloween and Thanksgiving, they are on their way to being mush.

  17. schatzi 12/21/2016

    Love the grapevine spiral with the red gourd - beautiful! As is everything else. Very creative. And the dusting of snow just adds to the beauty. Frank, your Aussie wreath is gorgeous!

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      The red gourd is this years decor. I must admit it's one of my favorites!

  18. user-5117752 12/21/2016

    How wonderful! How charming! How creative! Simply charming! Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. bonniep53 12/21/2016

      Thanks, what I love about outdoor decorations is they're my gift to my neighbors.

  19. thevioletfern 12/22/2016

    These are extraordinary celebrations Bonnie! You certainly have an eye. Wonderful, festive and natural. I certainly "caught the spirit."

    1. bonniep53 12/22/2016

      Thank you! Sometimes we need to remember it's the usual and not unusual that will add to the holiday spirit!

  20. User avater
    gringopeligroso 12/22/2016

    Ms. Pancoast!!
    While too busy yesterday for sitting and typing...tis the Season.. I was captivated by your beautiful Holiday statements!! In this day's rush to fill our sentiments with plastic, bling, smart lights and now inflatable parade floats, your quiet yet joyful expressions whisper a more real connection to what this time of year is all about.
    Thank you for sharing, for keeping it real, and thank you for reminding us!
    Happy Holidays and Blessed Be!

    1. bonniep53 12/22/2016

      You have touched my heart! I do believe we must all reach out to help others smile! I do it through my gardens. thank you...

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