MELINDA MYERS: Do-it-Yourself Holiday Centerpiece 

Dress up your holiday meals with a centerpiece crafted from greens, colorful stems and seed heads collected from your garden. Or purchase fresh materials you need from your favorite garden center or florist.

Most gardeners spend some time gathering a few blossoms and creating a bouquet or arrangement for their summer gatherings.  Don’t let winter stop you from crafting a festive centerpiece from materials collected from your gardens this time of year.

Start by gathering some greens.  The fan-like sprays of arborvitae, blue-green sprigs of juniper as well as branches of yews, boxwood, pines and spruces can provide all the greenery you need.

Now look for items with interesting color or shape. Red and yellow twig dogwoods and paper bark birch add festive color to any arrangement. The interesting shapes of curly willow, contorted filbert and fantail willow provide intriguing form.

Next gather cones, berries, and fruits. Look for orange and red rose hips, blue berry-like cones of junipers, sweet gum seedpods, and alder’s cone-like fruit. Gather a few evergreen cones to include in or around your arrangement.

Look for potential adornments that are lingering in the perennial garden. Coneflower, rudbeckia, and allium seed heads can add a bit of structure to your arrangement. Gather a few milkweed, balloon plant and lotus pods. And don’t worry, your milkweed plants will return for next year’s visiting monarchs. Honor their natural color or add a bit of bling with some gold, silver, or red paint.

Include a few shiny ornaments as needed. Glittered stems, ribbons and candles can add festive color to nature’s beauty in your centerpiece.

Visit your favorite florist or craft store for needed supplies.  Pick up some floral foam to secure the stems.  Cut it to shape to fit the size and shape of the container.

Moisten the foam before inserting fresh greens and cut flowers. Set the block of foam on top of a basin of water and let it sink. This allows all the air spaces to fill with water, ensuring your flowers and greens have the water they need. Use high density foam when working with evergreen boughs and branches.

No need to moisten the foam when using dried and artificial material. This material makes it easier to create your arrangement.

Consider purchasing a few seasonal flowers for added color for your special event.  These can be placed directly in the floral foam or water filled florist tubes set in the arrangement. Simply remove faded flowers and replace as needed.

Or use miniature poinsettias, kalanchoes and cyclamen for longer lasting living color. Tuck them in the bed of greens or use them to decorate each place setting. Check the soil moisture frequently as the small pots dry out quickly.

The possibilities are endless, and the results are sure to brighten your spirits no matter how you are safely celebrating this holiday season.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening.

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