Many years ago, I read On Persephone’s Island, a journal by New York native Mary Taylor Simeti that chronicles her life in Sicily. Ever since then, I’ve thought of her charming account of using lemon boughs in place of evergreens to deck the halls of her home.
This holiday season, as the cold descended on New England, where I live, I decided to take a page from Simeti’s book and conjure the feeling of balmier climes with a Meyer lemon and mistletoe garland fleshed out with hardy greens from my own backyard.
Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.
Above: According to a NY Times article, mistletoe is less toxic than many believe, however it can cause stomach irritation and other symptoms if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it should be kept out of reach of small children and pets.
- A good bunch of mistletoe. I ordered 2 lbs of freshly cut mistletoe from eBay, which was enough to create my bough and more; $18.95. (For people with small children mistletoe fig is another good live option. People with cats should use fake mistletoe.)
- 6 or 7 Meyer lemons preferably with leaves. I purchased mine at my local Whole Foods.
- Any hardy green that won’t immediately wither indoors. I used andromeda foraged from a shrub in my yard. Bay leaves are another good choice.
Above: More richly colored and smoothly textured than their common cousins, Meyer lemons are perfect for holiday decor.
Step 1: Begin the base of your garland by trimming your andromeda (or other leafy green) into small sections, leaving the bottom several inches of the stem bare.
Step 2: Lay the andromeda stems in an alternating pattern, so that the leaves of each successive branch face the opposite direction. This technique will create a small space in between the leaves on each side.
Step 3: Tuck sprigs of mistletoe into the gaps of the alternating andromeda.
Step 4: Once you have your mistletoe laid out, secure it to the andromeda with some wire. Continue to work along the garland, connecting all loose ends, until the entire length is free of loose parts. If you’re constructing your garland in a different place than where you plan to display it, now is the time to move it.
Step 4: Because of their weight, lemons are difficult to secure to the garland, so I simply placed them loosely along the sides.
The Finished Look
Above: Voila! My mistletoe and Meyer lemon garland on my holiday table.
Above: The buds of andromeda nicely complement the white mistletoe berries.
Above: As a final touch, I added small glass votives along the length of the garland.
Above: Since citrus leaves, mistletoe, and andromeda (and bayberry, too) tend to dry without losing their color and form, your garland should last at least a week.
Above: The low profile of the arrangement allows room to pass the potatoes–and to lean across and give the cook a complimentary kiss.
N.B. Looking for more easy, outside-the-box holiday decor? Try these DIY projects inspired by nature.