Sunday, January 3, 2010

Putting the Green in Holiday Greens

For as long as I’ve had my own home and decorated for the Christmas Holiday season, I’ve always accessorized more with plants and cuttings from the garden than with store-bought items.  I do add to this with lots and lots and lots of candles: pillars, floating candles (snowflakes, hearts) votives and specialty or handmade candles to create intriguing compositions.  For the last five years or so, I’ve used the small LED lights that I buy by the bucket!  (Online purchases once a year, keep me in candle-clover for the rest of the year, including Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Garden parties, Independence Day …)
I usually order from:

I put the lights in the bottom of the glass vases – concealing the pulp of the lights in the white or gold glass stones I use, depending on the look I want to achieve.
For several years, for example, I styled the dining table with white and gold. I used Casablanca Lillies and white roses.  Also, in years past I made the living room floral table display with a composition I learned from a floral designer who taught at The New York Botanical Garden. She demonstrated this combination for a New York Times photo shoot:
  • 3 - 4 tall vases (I use cylindrical ones)
  • 2 Calla Lilly per vase (I stretch and coaxed the stems so that they arch past the next vase’s bloom – think of a wattle fence or loose "M" shape)
  • bottom of each vase is filled with water to same height, colored with red food coloring and topped by fresh, floating cranberries.
 Lovely, Dramatic and Unique.

This year I opted for a floral red theme – with silver bells and white “snow.”
I found red glass stones for the table vases (low, pineapple size) and the combination of the red glowing LED lights and the red roses, red carnations and Hypericum Berry, was an especially elegant, festive touch – and an especially nice match with the holiday table linens I got last year.

And I’ve always had our Christmas stockings hang from the sterling silver cup vases filled with red roses, red carnations and seeded eucalyptus.

My Christmas stocking was knit/hand-made by my godmother, Aunt Alice – she made them for all her nieces and nephews.  Even more special after all these years. I love it – especially that angora, snowy Santa beard.

I made my husband’s stocking the first year we were married, as he didn’t have a childhood holiday stocking...  So naturally I had to make a special one for him. I decided on a cross-stitch design.
I look at it now and wonder how I ever made it ^:^ 
I remember when I was working on the “stocking” that first year while traveling to Palm Beach, the airline made me check the needlepoint scissors – which seemed oh-so-ridiculous at the time: way before pre-September 11th attacks…
Now, I wouldn’t even think of bringing scissors, er, a weapon, on board.
Regardless, the stocking is fun to look at and well done  J   and has now stood the test of time to become a tradition in its own right…

As part of our Holiday home design, I can’t help putting up the paperwhites bulbs, too. I know some people find the fragrance a bit too aggressive – (I think I remember that my friend, the amazing Anne Raver, writing about that in her New York Times garden column:  )
For me, they are so associated with the holidays...   
It’s part of the tradition.  
Tricky part is knowing when to plant up the bulbs so that they will be in their glory for the holiday parties for all to enjoy...  I am of the mind that two weeks before Thanksgiving works best. 
If you have another experience, let me know?

I studied Spanish in Mexico some years ago and consequently learned about the poinsettia tradition... Do you know of this??

Also, my mother had some issues with the bloom time this year for her amaryllis.  I convinced her to keep the bulbs from last year and they do look like they’ll bloom – but we planted them up in what, late October and they hadn’t bloomed by the 25h …. One or two blossoms looked promising on Christmas day...

What was especially thrilling was to see the jasmine plant boom --first-time ever for me. wow!

Of course, I always have to order the flowers from our best Garden State florist:
“In The Garden” located in the Highlands at their new address, 69 Waterwitch Avenue.

Owner Nancy Thomas is not only an amazing horticultural expert, graduate of the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture

Nancy is also a mother, and councilwomen for the town of Highlands.

"In The Garden" sells my Garden Pendant  Collection.

Nancy is always available – she keeps my floral design requests and past orders on file so she can better tell me the quantity of what I did from year to year.

And she got back to me asap via text when I asked her what the name of the the cutting I got: the  Hypericum Berry.
That’s a garden elf, no?!  Thank you, Nancy.

And in a slight departure from the usual tree - I had this idea in my head and then saw a similar concept in a magazine or newspaper - can't remember -- but the point was to use the garden look for the tree.
I wanted to use the garden urn from the terrace for the Christmas tree that we place in the garden room. I'll spare you the details, but the funnier part is when we purchased the tree at the benefit in town and I discovered a 8-foot blue spruce tree (the needles match the floor and...)
So Bill says, "she wants that one.  and can you cut it in half?!"
The guy thinks we're crazy but I get the perfect tree and lots of branch cuttings for decorating!

This year, I also saw the call-out for holiday garden decorations from my friend, Irene Varig (  the award-winning Garden Writer and Pulitzer Prize Winner. (Irene wrote the most touching and inspirational coverage for her Newsday column following the passing of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s president, Judy Zuk.)
I took a few digital pictures for her holiday garden decor request and submitted to Irene’s web site.

This is the winter view of the burgeoning arbor I designed - (two years in the making...) coral bark -    uplit with solar-powered lights, fronted with red-twigged dogwood, and Lady in Red Hydrangea and red roses as border.  Brilliant in every season -- but have to love the look and design in the winter: red branches against the white snow is intoxicating.  and one's eye is still led toward the harbor beyond...

This wreath is the creative genius of EunYoung Sebazco (  who works with Duchess Designs.  She is so incredibly talented -- landscape architect, designs and manages NYC public gardens and....!

After focusing on our own holiday decorations, I was delighted to see family and friend’s designs when visiting.  My cousin Jeff and his wife Suzanne are talented gardeners and always have some delight to surprise all. This year, they elected to put their “winter village” around the top of the kitchen cabinets -- what a great design option...

I think you’ll agree it is a natural-looking addition that gives the allusion it is part of the kitchen design.
But the really exciting element for me is their outdoor container garden design surrounding the deck and hot tub.  While they both said they compose the holiday deck designs in order to claim the privacy they need in the winter (sans leaves and seasonal shrubs) so they can continue to enjoy their fabulous hot tub -- hey, no peeking, neighbors!

Greens & Urns Accessorize the Hot Tub

I can't help it -- I'm impressed. It's simply a stunning garden composition.  Imagine enjoying the hot tub surrounded with greens from the garden anointing the urns.
How Glamorous!  What a stylish winter garden spa -- and all curated from the garden -- greens and conifers that add a dash of holiday winter fashion...

Cheers, Darlings!