Scarborough gardeners go green for Christmas season

You can expect to see a lot less glitz and glam this Christmas season and more natural greenery, says Jennifer Christiani, a custom designer at Sheridan Nurseries.

AUDIO: Jennifer Christiani talks about some of this year’s top eco-friendly sellers.

[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/web-extra-Christmas.mp3]

On Nov. 8, Christiani, along with The Scarborough Garden and Horticulture Society, showed community members how to incorporate nature into their holidays.

Guests were shown how to create eco-friendly masterpieces from old materials and Canadian greens. Christiani created a winter urn within minutes using a variety of birch, Ontario boxwood and cedar.

“We have so much to celebrate here in this country,” she said. “All of this is Canadian. We are bringing it from British Columbia and Nova Scotia and a few American spots.”

As usual, wreaths remain a huge seller, Christiani said, but this year’s top trends for winter urns are cedar and birch trees.

Christiani — who’s worked in the nursery for six years and also creates unique Christmas decor and urns all over the city — recommended using at least three different types of greens in urns for variety. If taken care of correctly, urns can last until the middle of March.

Gardening is extremely important to beautify the community

— Gaynor Goldring

Scarborough Garden and Horticulture Society treasurer Gaynor Goldring said gardening is not only a way to showcase the festive season but is more importantly a way to bring the Scarborough community together.

“Gardening is extremely important to beautify the community … It’s a nice way and good way to integrate people into the community that are new to the area or even to country,” she said.

“They maybe aren’t used to gardening or the way that we garden. So, we do have a few members here that are new to the country. They can get to meet people but the gardening gets them active and in their yards. It’s a very social event.”

Anette Hurlihey works in the society’s public relations and has been a member for seven years. She said she initially got started with the club for her love of herbs and organic gardening. The club has taught her, like many, how to be more eco-friendly when it comes to décor.

“The lectures are great because you get so many ideas,” she said. “I make a lot of my décor. I just love the natural stuff. We have loads of trees and a lot of material to use. I have an urn out the front, too.”

Christiani said she believes many people in Scarborough are opting out of purchasing new Christmas décor every year. Instead, they are exercising their green thumbs and creating unique pieces themselves.

“I think it’s because, especially in Scarborough, not a lot of people celebrate Christmas, but it’s about decorating for the seasons,” she said. “Fall season is pumpkins and winter becomes winter greens and then spring is bulbs. It changes.

“So, I think it’s more about celebrating the seasons that we’re lucky to have in this country.”

Christiani also said a common misconception many have towards making their own décor is that it’s difficult. She said it’s an easy way to have fun, experiment and learn, but more importantly, it’s about creativity.

Although some items may be a little pricier than most mass-produced goods, Christiani said she believes they’re investment pieces that can be reused year after year.

Sheridan Nurseries also hosts hands-on classes year-round for a variety of age groups.