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Another gardening year is behind us. Isn’t it true that the older we get, the faster time flies? But the news is not all negative. There is an upside to this whole speed of time deal, especially when it comes to gardening.

I like to arrange a green and red centerpiece for my dining room table and maybe one or two more for gifts or for other spots in the house. Clipping greens from my garden saves me money and guarantees freshness.

As much as possible, I will make inconspicuous cuts on my conifers and broadleaf evergreens such as boxwood or camellia and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’ll also snip some berries to add to my arrangements. Once I’ve gathered everything, I’ll bring it indoors for arranging.

The only caveat to making holiday arrangements is that some of the plants we choose could be toxic and harmful or deadly if ingested by children or pets. Although I don’t have dogs, I have four indoor cats that — fortunately — don’t seem interested in snacking on my arrangements.

One of my favorite shrubs to grow for berries is a small China rose called “Angel Wings.” (Rosa chinensis ‘Angel Wings’). I first laid eyes on it many summers ago while touring a florist’s garden. It had hundreds of the cutest pink, dime-sized flowers blooming in terminal clusters above disease resistant foliage.

The florist told me that despite its summer allure, she was growing angel wing rose for the bee-sized, deep red hips it produces in fall. And then she surprised me by telling me that she grew her rose bush from seed.

Sure enough, I bought seed and it germinated within weeks and grew quickly.The hips start out green, morph to orange and finally to deep red. Perfectly winter hardy here in the Pacific Northwest, the plant stays small, only topping out at approximately two feet tall and two feet wide.

I have mine in a large container, but it works just as well as an in-ground planting, close to the front of the border. And maybe the best news is that the rosehips are not toxic to animals so we can bring it indoors without risk of poisoning our furbabies.

There are many websites that provide good information on plants toxic to dogs and cats. One that I found helpful is The Spruce Pets. ( If you are at all concerned, it’s a good idea to do your research.

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