A Horticulturist’s Holiday Home Decor

Written by Nancy Crawley


Here is some Christmas decorating help from a Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park landscape pro.

It’s a big, busy job.

Ed McKee, Meijer Gardens horticulture manager in charge of the acres of outdoor gardens, could be forgiven for skipping outdoor decorating chores at home. But no, he’s already dressed up his Jenison home for the holidays.

What does Ed do and what are this landscape pro’s secrets?

A wide porch at the house he and his wife Tricia bought this year inspired him to a whole new design – one organized around a Christmas classic, the nutcracker toy soldier.


He tucks colorful nutcracker figures he’s collected – from less than a foot tall to three feet – into window boxes and big porch pots filled with evergreen boughs.

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He also adds white birch branches to lighten things up and bits of Michigan holly and purple-green kale for contrast. He adds dried Juncus grass from his summer plantings for a bit of whimsy.

Of course, the doormat and chair pillows are decorated with nutcrackers. A small, lighted tree stands next to the door and wreaths, including a big, 30-inch-wide one over the window, complement his theme.


Ed offered more tips during a quick chat last week:

  • Use a variety of evergreens for more interest. Pine branches are firmer than other boughs and help with structure. Arborvitae give a graceful, feathery touch. Fraser firs lend a blue tone and balsam and spruce, deep green.
  • During your fall cleanup, leave root balls of mums and grasses in the pots so you can insert evergreen branches in between the root network to stabilize them.
  • Keep your design simple and natural.
  • Power your lights with a dark green electric cord that you can more easily hide and use battery operated timers to turn lights on and off automatically. He sets his for 6 hours.
  • When hanging bulbs on your tree, start with the biggest bulbs tucked inside, closest to the trunk and then move out along the branch with progressively smaller bulbs.

All this doesn’t take too long, he assures us amateurs. A few hours and, voila, your house is beautiful and welcoming for the season of good cheer.


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