In the Garden:
Upper South
December, 2009
Regional Report

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Using some snippets from your own yard, plus some purchased flowers, you can create beautiful flower arrangements for your home.

A Bloomin' Holiday

Christmas wouldn't be the same without evergreen boughs and potted poinsettias, but the addition of fresh flowers to your holiday decorations makes a home feel extra special. It should come as no surprise that university research has found that flowers make us happy, and that cut flowers have an immediate impact on our happiness, a long-term effect on our moods, and lead to more intimate contact with family and friends, gender notwithstanding.

With today's fast-paced and stressful lifestyle, fresh-cut flowers offer a simple, easy way to calm, cheer, and energize. Added to traditional holiday greenery, they add an unexpected burst of color and liveliness to the home and are the perfect antidote to all the manufactured decorations.

Of course, the easiest way to add flowers is to simply buy a pre-made arrangement from a florist, but is much more satisfying, to say nothing of less expensive, to create your own arrangements. With the money saved from just one purchased arrangement, you can have flowers in several rooms. Even if you've never felt particularly skilled at flower arranging, it isn't that hard to develop some striking arrangements. A couple of flower stems can transform a room. Following are some easy way to make fresh-cut flowers look great.

Bring the Outdoors In
Take a walk outside and collect some of the berries, fruit, grasses, ferns, and evergreens that catch your eye at this time of year to combine with purchased cut flowers. As to vases, look around the house for interesting shapes and colors of wine, beer, or mineral water bottles, line them up on the mantel, and put a single stunning flower in each bottle. A variation on this theme is to combine flower-filled small vases or bottles on a mirror or serving tray for a spectacular coffee table arrangement. Even if you feel totally inept at arranging flowers, you can cut off individual flower heads and float them in a low dish of water with small floating candles.

Look around your house for other items that can be used as containers, such as jugs, teapots, cookie jars, antique tin cups, even jam jars. Small containers look best with the stems cut short and the flowers massed tightly in the container. Mass in a single color for high style, or fill out with interesting foliage or berries for a rustic yet sophisticated effect. For ornate, highly colored vases, keep to one color; conversely, multi-colored arrangement are best in simple, one-color containers.

You can give a boring base a new look by covering it with a scarf, piece of fabric, or gift wrap. Put the vase in the middle, pull up the fabric or paper, and tie with a ribbon or secure with double-stick tape, place large leaves vertically around the vase, then tie with raffia or ribbon.

Recently at yard sales and the Goodwill, I got several baskets lined with plastic. These had previously held purchased arrangements, so they are ideal for homemade ones. To one of these, I added a thoroughly soaked piece of floral foam cut to fit. As this was to be a table centerpiece, I wanted it to look good from all sides. From the garden, I cut three stems each of a number of different needled and broad-leaved evergreens, plus three each of some other plants that looked interesting. I inserted all of these into the foam so that I had a nearly rounded container filled with foliage, seed heads, and berries. Then I took an expensive bunch of flowers from the grocery and inserted them. The result was a quick and beautiful centerpiece for a dinner party.

In using flowers around the house, think about where they will be placed. For example, a bouquet for a hall or foyer can be tall and open. For a dining table centerpiece, make sure it is low enough for diners to easily see across the table. For an easy, elegant table decoration, set a series of alternating crystal vases and candlesticks on a fabric runner. Place one, two, or three fresh flowers, surrounded by greenery, in each of the vases. An alternative is simply to place pine boughs along the center of the table and set small vases of flowers and candles among them, perhaps with the addition of some shiny ornaments strategically placed.

Whether you use a simple mixture of flowers from the grocery or some special stems of orchid, freesia, or another indulgence, the end result bring a new dimension to your holiday decorating.


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