Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The friendly ghosts of Christmases past...

As I said on Monday—when I posted photos of this year's Christmas décor—I was curious what a line-up of past year's "trees" would look like. So today I give you, the friendly ghosts of danger garden Christmases past...

We had just returned from an epic 2-week road trip to Southern California. We were both in-love with the tree ferns we saw in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, and so when I saw a potted tree fern at a local nursery I grabbed it. I'm happy to say that same tree fern (a Dicksonia antarctica) is still live and doing well. I can't say the same for the Agave attenuata and cordyline though...

The 2009 mantel—these first few photos are small because it was the early days of my digital camera and the blog, photo quality is pretty poor.

The Christmas "tree" is a branch, windfall from around the neighborhood.

The mantel looks so sparse.

The vintage aluminum Christmas tree is called into action.

Equal billing was giving to some Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' (blue atlas cedar) branches that I'd picked up. I was crushing hard on the idea of a blue atlas cedar Christmas tree.

The 2011 mantel.
It was another aluminum Christmas tree year, but with eucalyptus for color and scent.

There was more eucalyptus on the mantel.
I finally got that blue atlas cedar tree I'd been dreaming of...

The mantel was done up rather dramatically.

I got a bee in my bonnet to make a tree with a tomato cage and foraged branches. I called the result Cousin Itt, and with good reason...

The mantel display made use of the left over foraged blue atlas cedar branches.
The year of the Poinsettia Challenge, I embraced that holiday euphorbia like never before, even to the point I didn't bother to have a tree.

So much red! It makes me a little uncomfortable to look at it now.

The blue atlas cedar is back inside and pulling Christmas tree duty.

It was also the year bottle brush trees came back into style and I purchased several (far right on the mantel).

The year of the opuntia Christmas tree. The year I reached my zenith for inventive trees, like a high school football quarterback or prom queen who never can quite top that year of high school fame.

Okay I kid, obviously I've moved beyond that 10 seconds of spiky fame, but still, it was pretty amazing.

The last time the potted blue atlas cedar will make an appearance, as spring of 2019 I gave it to a friend who has the room to plant it in the ground. It served us well for 5 years in pot and deserved to finally stretch its roots.

The mantle that year...

The vintage tinsel tree came out again.

A holiday protea is always a good thing.
Life was a little upside down. Home-bound due to COVID I bought a small "real" tree. Strange times call for strange measures.

Naturally there were bromeliads.

Hurts my heart to think about Christmas 2021. We were supposed to be in Spokane with my family for the holiday, but one of my brothers had COVID and we postponed our family gathering until February. Little did we know at the time it would be my dad's last Christmas. That year I'd decided none of my vintage glass ornaments were to go on the tree, just tillandsia and a big red garland.

I splurged on Leucadendron argenteum branches and bright red berries.

So tell me about your Christmas trees, are you a traditionalist? Or do you like to shake it up? 

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All material © 2009-2022 by Loree L Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude


  1. This was a great run-down of your decorating skill over the years, Loree. I adore your mantel displays and the way you've woven beloved plants into your trees and mantels. I'm stuck in a rut for the most part, pulling out the ornaments I've accumulated over decades. This year I was struck by the fact that I haven't added any new ones for several years now, even as the old hand-made ornaments my stepfather, husband and I made long ago have been slowly falling apart. I need to get a new take on the holidays next year.

    1. The holidays is definitely a time to bring out the tried and true with memories attached. I find that even though I like to change things up, there's still a common thread running through most years.

  2. I guess I would call myself a traditionalist. When we get a tree, it is one cut from nearby and decorated with straw or glass ornaments and some stuff from childhood. This year, we opted for the lazy route and bought a festive Christmas blob consisting of various dyed or plain pinecones, red dried fruit, and fake conifer sprouts glued onto a styrofoam cone. It looks better than it sounds.

    1. I wanna see a picture of your festive Christmas blob!

  3. My favorites are the blue atlas cedar (you found such a great form) and the cactus pads, of course.

    1. I'm definitely missing that tree (the BAC), I hope it's happy in its new home.

  4. It's fun to see the evolution of your Christmas decoration, shifts in mood, color and directions. If the mantel seemed sparse in the early years, it is sparse no more, packed with wonderful plant matter and collectibles: the mini decorated metal trees are fun.
    The aluminum tree with eucalyptus branches must have smelled terrific, though my favorite is the blue atlas cedar, maybe because I grow the weeping variety in my garden: I love those green vintage glass ornaments you had on that first year.
    (My blue atlas begs to be decorated... I rarely pay attention to its plea).

    1. Andrew would favor a minimalistic approach on the mantel, it's so hard to do though!

  5. Your mantel decorations are always so inspiring. Since following your blog I've tried to up my game on ours. Challenge is ours is a working fireplace so are limited with plants and real garland. However, this year have a couple of nice Tillandsia xerographica tucked into the corners with our collection of nutcrackers. I love all of your trees but my favourite is the opuntia tree. Incredibly creative. Best of the season to you and Andrew.

    1. Facing an ice storm over the next day or so I'm eyeing our fireplace and mantel with a fresh eye. If the power goes out that gas fireplace will be our only source of heat! I wouldn't do so well with a fireplace that was in use all the time, kudos to you for finding a balance.


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