Creating holiday greenery with foraged plants and a little gold paint is easy and fun. The true beauty of this project lies not only in the results, but in the fact that the outcome—depending on where you live and what's available to you—will always be uniquely your own.
My passion for working with foraged greens (and not-so-greens) is twofold. First, operating within the confines of what I can find in my own yard forces me get creative. Rather than simply copying a DIY project, I have to dispel preconceived notions about the desired results, and open my mind to new opportunities presented by the materials at hand. Second, in doing so, I learn to see the plants in my withered yard in a whole new light.
Photographs by Justine Hand.
Above: Let the materials guide you. Find the intrinsic beauty of each specimen and seek to enhance it. Here, a humble weed in its desiccated state becomes a thing of rare beauty with a bit of gold paint.
Above: This project is about what you already have: paint brushes and whatever twigs and greens you can get your hands on. All you may need to buy is a little gold and silver paint. I used Martha Stewart's Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint and Liquid Gilding, both available at Michaels.
Above: Remember to think outside the box. I happen to have holly in my yard, but eschewed it in favor of non-traditional greens such as thorns and dried oak leaves.
Above: Be extemporaneous. I didn't want this project to be fussy (OK, let's call it what it is: I didn't have time to painstakingly paint each leaf). But I actually found that quick brushstrokes often had a more desirous effect than more deliberate applications.
Above: Mix and Match. My little holiday "boutonniere" of beech, oak, and dried Black-Eyed-Susan is waiting for a package or a lapel to adorn.
Above: Use your gilded greens on packages, mantels, as a centerpiece for the holiday table, or to enhance wreaths and garlands. (Note that any leaves that are not already dried will wither indoors, unless you put them in a bit of water.)
Above: I have to admit that I've never really been a fan of the summer flowers and foliage of either azaleas or bar berry. But this holiday vignette has made a convert out of me.
Above: Another little boutonniere includes azalea leaves, rose hips, and dried red leaves of burning bush.
Above: So much fun, I got a little carried away. My bureau received a little holiday bouquet as well.
Above: Not holly berries. Withered rose hips complement the plum-tinted azalea leaves.
Above: I'm just going to leave this little guy right where he is next to the ink drawing by my aunt.
Above: One of my first attempts resulted in a more "obvious" holiday assemblage. But it's still very pretty.
Above: The ridges and tiny buds of this burning bush cried out for a little silver paint.
Above: Life beyond its dramatic scarlet leaves: the green stems and aubergine flowers of burning bush are lovely next to silver paint.
N.B. Looking for more ideas? See 85 more Holiday DIY projects in our Photo Gallery.