My friend Lou Ann and I like to make pretty things. We’ll be out walking, notice an abundance of pine cones on the ground, and the next thing you know we are making bright red pinecone wreaths together in her backyard. All of our joint projects using plant materials are under Lou Ann’s tutelage. She’s the design and DIY girl.
This year, Lou Ann came over, and we made a holiday arrangement for my foyer. I photographed how she did it step-by-step, plant choice-by-plant choice.
I’ve included each step from cutting the plant stems in my yard to designing the arrangement on my kitchen table. All the greenery came from common foundation plants; nothing is extra-special or hard to find.
Our first stopover in the yard was my rain garden which is full of perennials meant to attract pollinators for the vegetable garden. The rain garden was created by my talented friend, Jeremy Lekich, owner of Nashville Foodscapes. If you are interested in growing food and doing it in an attractive way using best permaculture practices, Jeremy is your man.
Lou Ann was instantly drawn to these dried stems of anise hyssop. Anise Hyssop is a “top three” plant for producing nectar and attracting bees, and as Jeremy informed me, it makes a wonderful tea used to cure low spirits or a broken heart according to Native American herbalism. Noted.
The evergreen, Mahonia, with its striking, statuesque stalks topped by a whorl of prickly, hollylike leaves, was next. Mahonia is one of many drought-resistant [read, plants that can be ignored and still survive] evergreens in my yard. Lou Ann cut down one tall stalk.
Nandina is located nearby. It provides year-round interest in the garden because of its lacy sprays of shiny green leaves with a six-inch center stem full of red or gold berries. It, too, is drought-resistant. Lou Ann took a stem of each color.
Limelight Hydrangea: fresh or dried, it’s one of my favorite shrubs. Its pale limey-green flowers change from shades of pink to burgundy as they age during the summer and fall.
Eleagnus: I planted this evergreen two years ago after I saw it in a flower arrangement. I was drawn to the shimmering taupey-gray underbelly of the olive green leaves. The coloring of the underside of the leaves works magic light wise in an arrangement. Sadly, the nurseryman from whom I bought the plant referred to it as Ugly Agnes (perhaps because of the unruly way in which it grows) and that name has stuck.
We picked stems of Sage from the herb bed for their silvery contrasting color.
Next up was the wall of English Ivy, another evergreen. When Lou Ann had her floral design business, known as Sprig, she would often come by to pick a few of these extra-large leaves to line the vases of floral arrangements.
Lenten Rose (aka Hellebore), Holly, and Pine: more evergreens. We used a few stems of each.
Burning Bush: this deciduous flowering shrub has pretty red berries on pale grayish-brown stems. More contrast and color. Lou Ann cut a few stems of these, too.
Deciduous Japanese Magnolia: this type of magnolia loses its leaves in the winter and begins the spring season with large pink flowers. The silvery, velvet-like buds for these flowers set in December. The buds add a pretty, soft color to the arrangement.
Okra Pods: I am a huge fan of both burgundy and green okra, so I always grow both varieties in the veggie garden. Okra is a draught-resistant plant that gives you tasty food in the summer and strikingly pretty seed pods in the winter. More interest for the arrangement.
Here is our collection of plant materials.
We laid it all out on the kitchen floor.
And then Lou Ann got busy.
Next, we had to move the arrangement into the foyer. We decided it would be fun to add a few stems of Poinsettia flowers. When the stem of the poinsettia plant is cut, it leaks a milky white substance that can be irritating to skin. Lou Ann uses a lighter to cauterize the tip of the stem and stop the drips.
Happy Holidays from Judy’s Chickens!
You can follow Lou Ann and her fabulous photos of flowers, complete with their botanical names, on Instagram @labbrown
Other posts about floral arrangements made with plant materials picked fresh from the yard:
© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. No photos or text may be used without written consent.