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Using desert plant parts for home decorations

Wreath made from pinyon pine cones and mescal beans
Wreath made from pinyon pine cones and mescal beans
Linda Strader

There are lots of interesting plant parts available for creating unique items for your home décor. The hard part, or fun part, depending on how you look at it, is finding dried flower stalks, seeds and pods to decorated your project. With a little creativity and ingenuity, these ideas can be put together in an afternoon. Just make sure you gather your materials legally. Government lands require permits, and if you want to harvest from private property, always ask for permission.

Natural Materials for Collecting

The following materials are suggestions for making interesting additions to wreaths, gourds, ornaments and other crafty items:

  • Yucca stalks and pods
  • Pinyon pine cones
  • Acorns
  • Texas mountain laurel beans
  • Dried flower stalks from Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland sage)
  • Dried grass heads
  • Feathers
  • Eucalyptus branches
  • Berries from Heavenly bamboo plants (Nandina domestica)

Craft Ideas to Get you Started

Not sure what to make? If you have plywood scraps and a jigsaw, cut a wreath shape and use a hot glue gun to attach your great finds. Or you can purchase a pre-made grape vine wreath and use floral wire.

Fall is also gourd season, so if you have dried gourds create decorative bird houses. Pre-cleaned gourds are also available for purchase at craft stores, and make the process much simpler.

It is not too soon to make ornaments for Christmas decorations. Hand crafted ornaments decorated with any of the above suggestions are a perfect gift for the naturalist in your family or circle of friends. A simple and desert-appropriate Christmas wreath is as simple as intertwining small eucalyptus branches between a pre-made grape vine wreath and decorating with red bows or berry sprigs from Heavenly bamboo.

Materials for Assembly and Preservation

To assemble any of the ideas above, a hot glue gun is quite handy. If you don’t have one, use a craft glue that is extra thick so your decorations don’t slide off. If you plan on displaying your creation outside, you will want to spray a coat of outdoor use polyurethane on the finished product to protect it from moisture.

Floral wire is handy for attaching branches and other stems to wreaths, but plain fine wire will work if that is all you have. Naturally do all the tying off in the back.

Gourds really shine with a good coat of varnish. This will help preserve them for a long time.

Celebrate the difference of the desert southwest to other parts of the country by including crafts made from desert materials in your home.