In our November/December issue, Leaf and Petal owner Lydia Pursell invites us into her family’s home, dressed for Yuletide with botanical selections from her popular chain of garden shops.
During the holidays, the former magazine stylist brings beauty and fragrance into her interiors with fresh-cut garlands and wreaths. But along with these temporary additions, Lydia advises creating arrangements that can last through the winter and beyond.
Here’s Lydia’s step-by-step instructions for creating this magnificent focal point, above.
Prepare a container. This vintage brass treasure, perfectly sized for a buffet or a dining table, was purchased for $20 at a church tag sale. Lining the bottom with floral wrap protects the patina from potential water damage. This waxed tissue paper can also be tucked between plants as a stabilizer, but Lydia suggests using torn-up grocery sacks as an economical substitute.
Design for maximum interest. “The composition for most arrangements comes from the old cliché, ‘thrill, fill, and spill,’” Lydia shares. Florists recommend combining eye-catching favorites with varieties that lend height, and others that extend over the edge of the vessel. These hydrangeas and ferns, available year-round, will find an ideal holiday complement in softly tinted poinsettias.
Develop an artful presentation. This process comes naturally to Lydia. “I usually play with the placement until it feels right,” she explains. The pots growers use are not very pliable, so transferring seedlings and their soil into plastic bags allows more flexibility and increased water retention. Larger shrubs, such as hydrangeas, are better left in their original containers. Consider where the centerpiece will be displayed to determine whether you need to address only the front and sides or plan for a 360° view.
Extend the enjoyment. “The arrangements we do at Leaf and Petal can last for months,” Lydia says. “One or two plants may not have the longevity of the others, but those you refresh.” Realizing that varieties require differing amounts of water, she recommends testing their moisture levels every few days by sticking a finger in the soil. As some flowers begin to fade, they can be replaced with new seasonal offerings.
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