I remember precisely when I became a yard scavenger.
I’d made a risky move from a large Midwest town to an artsy mid-South neighborhood just in time to roll my eyes at residents planting Fall pansies. (Newsflash: They bloom through the winter here!) And then, suddenly—like overnight—nearly all the mailboxes on my street were covered in fresh evergreen garland and bows.
But not mine. My mailbox was naked and cold and definitely the odd man out.
I put my journalism degree to work and discovered a local private school held an annual Christmas fundraiser by selling mailbox garlands. These garlands were stunning. They were lush. And they were waaaaaaay out of my price range.
So I gathered some pine boughs and holly from my yard, pulled some festive ribbon from my stash, and created my own, free mailbox garland. It was not an unmitigated success.
I wish I’d taken pictures of it, because you’d probably shake your head in pity. Pieces started falling out the first week. I think the ribbon came untied in a high wind. But I was not deterred! And I got better at it each Christmas.
After that scavenging revelation, I started noticing the pinecones scattered over the lawn and collected baskets of them before the mowers blew through. I found forsythia along a fence line and clipped some branches for a spring vase. I came upon a rogue tulip along the canal. Volunteer daffodils beside a storage shed. Tiny crocus near my back steps.
And I officially became a scavenger-forager.
Before long, I was asking friends if I could cut a few wayward branches from their magnolias and euonymus. In exchange, I could provide pine and holly. I grew some roses and traded those for hydrangea blooms. I became unafraid to ask for blooms because most gardeners simply loved to share.
So I encourage you to start really investigating your yard. Explore your friends’ yards. Walk slowly along the edges in all seasons. Look up into the trees. Chances are you’ll find some wild beauty out there just waiting to come inside and adorn your home.
A Michigan farm girl transplanted to the South offering hospitality hacks.