Decorating for the Holiday Season

The Arboretum welcomed members of the Haverford community to Haverford to learn how to build holiday decorations using plant material from across the campus.

When horticulturist Carol Wagner first came to Haverford College in 1988, the Arboretum already had a tradition of decorating for the President’s holiday party using nature’s bounty. From making angels out of pine cones and milkweed pods to fashioning owls from teasel, almost all the decorating materials came from various plant material found on campus. Wagner and her fellow horticulturists continue the tradition every year. This year she led a public workshop on creating nature-inspired holiday decorations on this year’s chosen theme: books.

With leftover furnishings–think pinecones, teasel, milkweed pods, grass pods, and acorns–and the holiday spirit in the air, the Arboretum created the workshop to share the secrets of Haverford College’s traditional holiday tree decorations with the local, off-campus community, students, and Arboretum members.

“Other than lights, spray paint, and ribbon, we rarely buy anything,” said Wagner. She insists on keeping some of each year’s ornaments for future use in the coming years. “Each time we make new ornaments,” she continued “we get great new ideas from the people making the ornaments, usually the students who are working with us.”

“The community and staff are so fun to work with… they bring awesome energy, skills, and ideas,” mentioned Arboretum Program Coordinator Daniel Larkins, who also dreamed up the recent successful pumpkin-carving contest and Arboretum night hike.

“The Arboretum is a deeply-loved natural resource for plants, wildlife, and humans,” said Larkins, and he always on the lookout for ways to share its treasure with the community, on campus and off.

Upcoming events include a terrarium-decorating workshop inspired by the release date of the new Star Wars film, a birdhouse-making workshop, a winter-tree tour led by Director Claudia Kent, and the third meeting of the new nature book club.

Photos by Sarah Jennings ’21.