2010 11 24 – Making Your Own Arrangements

Hopefully everyone made it to the Uxbridge Christmas Home Tour. If you don’t know it, a number of local businesses decorate homes, inside and out. People then buy ‘passports’ to visit each of the homes. After the tour, there was a gala event held at Wooden Sticks with guest speaker, Kimberley Seldon. The proceeds went to Precious Minds. Taken from their website, www.preciousminds.com, “Precious Minds provides support to families with children who have barriers to learning. This includes the full spectrum of learning, physical, developmental and behavioural disabilities.” I heard from a large number of people that it was a great tour that inspired everyone in their holiday decorating. It definitely did inspire, because customers have been coming in and buying all sorts of different decorating items. Although I wasn’t personally able to make it to the houses, I’ve seen pictures of the outside decorations on people’s cameras and cell phones, usually followed by “do you have this?” I also heard that Kimberley’s talk, “Christmas by Design” was a lot of fun, and got people even more excited about decorating. Again, I wasn’t able to make it as I was busy making urns for the event. I was delivering the last of the arrangements as guests were arriving, dressed sharply. I, on the other hand, was in jeans and a hoodie, dirty from me wiping sap off my hands onto any surface that was reasonably clean and, as someone laughingly pointed out, absolutely covered in glitter.

So now that you’re inspired, what do you do with that inspiration? You can buy pre-made arrangements, commonly referred to as inserts, at a number of local businesses at a wide variety of price ranges. They’re usually arranged in a pot or peat container and you just stick them in your urns. Pun not intended, okay well maybe a little 🙂 You can often add your own personal touches to these, depending on how full they are. Some places will do custom work, where you tell them your budget, a colour scheme, or just the colours of your house, doors, and trim.

Or you can make your own arrangements. It’s not as hard as you might think. If your urns had annuals in them, just cut off the foliage. While the roots might make it a little difficult to add boughs, branches, etc., they also help keep everything where you put it. Whenever possible, I use this approach. Many of my inserts are done in what was a cabbage or mum. If you’ve already emptied your urns, either fill the urn, or a pot that fits snugly, with soil, sand, or a mixture of both. I like soil because it keeps the greens fresher until everything freezes, at which point, everything stays fresh.

Most of us have heard the phrase “thrill, fill, and spill” to describe how to arrange containers. The idea is, you want something showy (thrill), something to spill over the edges, and something to fill the rest of the container.

Dogwood, willow, and bamboo can be used to add height, as well as colour. Apparently, fantail willow was used in one of the houses on the tour, because people have been coming in for it specifically. Pine, fir, and cypress are handy greens that will also give you height. Pine and cedar, especially cedar from BC, are great for cascading over the sides of your pots. Magnolia leaves, eucalyptus, boxwood, and red huck are traditional fillers. Magnolia has been very popular this year.

When it comes to your thrill, you are only limited by your imagination. You can use fresh pomegranates (which age beautifully), artificial fruit, branches that are dyed or sprayed with glitter, pine cones that are natural or spray painted. Any colour you can think of can be used. Some of my favourites include protea, a flower from South Africa that I’ll use fresh or dried, giant sugar and Jeffrey cones, as well as mesh. Mesh has been very popular this year, so much so that I’ve had to restock a few times already. It deserves this popularity because it acts as thrill and fill all in one, and at a low cost. I’ll often split a roll at $10.00 between two containers and it really makes the arrangements pop. You can also use it inside. One of the houses on the tour had it wrapped and bunched around a bannister.

The most important thing about making your own containers is to have fun. If it’s cold when you’re doing it, make yourself a hot chocolate complete with whipped cream and chocolate sauce drizzled over the whipped cream, or maybe a nice coffee with a little Irish or Spanish influence. That, actually, sounds good right about now, so I guess I’m off.

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About johnsgarden

I have a garden centre which operates out of my home in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada I write columns for a local paper, which I will include here
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