Decorating Naturally

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

When you think of a classic Southern holiday decorating scheme, think natural. I fill red vases with variegated holly stems and always cut nandina with red berries for the Santa boot I inherited, Southerners cut cedar boughs from the back pasture for fragrant garlands, and stack up elaborate pyramids,  ‘trees’ covered in oranges and pomegranates. For generations, we have used grabbed whatever is handy and gone wild to spruce it up when company’s coming. Hydrangeas hold their flowers into the fall, so they are an obvious choice. It only takes a few simple steps to put together stunning topiaries for the sideboard. Paired with a centerpiece of magnolia and seasonal fruit, yours will be the buffet table everyone remembers after New Year’s.

Here are instructions for making a hydrangea topiary:

For each topiary, you’ll need:

1) small clay pot (4-5 inches is plenty), paint or wrapping paper to decorate it

2) wire-edged ribbon (2” wide, 2 feet long)

3) styrofoam chunks to fill the pot

4) one large or two smaller hydrangea flowers with stems

5) slim bamboo stakes and floral wire

6) handful of sphagnum moss or sheet moss

Assemble to enjoy

Hydrangea flowers fade to pale versions of themselves. Choose complementary colors for the pot and ribbons to bring out their muted tones. Or spray paint the dried flowers with shiny gold paint and go wild with other colors for the ribbon and pot. Once they’re dry, wire the stems to stakes if needed. Decorate the pot and fill it with tightly fitting foam chunks. Stick the stakes into the foam, give it a moss skirt and tie ample amounts of ribbon just below the flower heads.

Voila – fast, cheap, and like all good things Southern, classy and surprisingly beautiful!

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