We have a stand of six very tall pine trees in our front yard. I’m grateful for the long red-gold needles that create a lovely carpet beneath their trunks. The trees also drop lots of small branches that need picking up on a regular basis and a plethora of pine cones. I’ve been saving the cones for a few months and wondering what to do with them. Then it came to me.
All summer two dragon wing begonias guarded our front steps. Paired with Diamond Frost Euphorbia they grew to two feet wide with glossy green leaves. I hated to relegate these beautiful creatures to the compost bin when the weather turned cold. Luckily I came across many gardeners on the web who felt the same. Turns out these begonias are downright easy to grow as houseplants over the winter. I took them in, cut them back and re-potted them for the sun room. They are flowering happily.
So that left two outdoor pots planted with early tulips and Siberian Squill. They looked bare naked waiting for warm weather at the foot of the steps. That’s where the abundance of pine cones came in. A trusty glue gun and Styrofoam from packing boxes is all that’s needed. If you cut a piece of Styrofoam into a circle that fits just inside the pots over the soil, it will serve as a base. Then all you need to do is pile on the pine cones, giving each one a squirt from the glue gun to make sure it stays put. I’m far from an artistic perfectionist, but even I managed to build a mound that looked sort of like a topiary minus the standard. Pine cones are intricate and interesting and very natural. But they are also brown; the least festive color for holiday decorating.
Our yard also happens to have some overgrown junipers in dire need of pruning. Their bright greenness is a perfect foil for the brownness of the pine cones. It worked out well to cut short feathers of juniper and stick them among the pine cones. I’m quite happy with the result. It’s quiet and natural and cost virtually nothing. I could add light strings that now come battery powered, but I won’t. If that’s your thing, go for it. But I’ve never been a fan of sparkle added to natural materials. Neither do I go for a tartan plaid tablecloth with gold threads woven through it. In nature pine cones don’t go in for pizzazz and neither do I.