Once it was decided to express a little holiday red, it seemed only natural to add berries to my Japanese maple branches. It took an entire day to get them ready to hang. With the temps in the teens, one hopes for an installation that is easy to manage with gloves on, and with dispatch. Glass ornaments are fine outdoors-as long as no water gets inside, and freezes. I had no interest in exploding berries. So the caps were glued on all the way around, and the holes in the top around the hanger were sealed shut with glue. Then a florist’s wire was attached to each berry or berry cluster. I would guess we glued and wired about 600 ornaments.
Each tree had its own bucket of ornaments; I asked for the help of both the landscape crew and the shop people-so no one would have to be outdoors too long. As it turned out, the south side of the building on a sunny day is not too bad. It always seems like I have way too many ladders, until I have a project like this. My only regret here-the need to disturb my snow blanket. One sure sign of a gardener-that person who does not permit the mailman to trudge across the front yard through the snow. “Please use the side walk sir.” I do like looking at my fresh and unsullied snow.
Rob has no qualms about perching on a ladder listing to the east, as you can see. He is also plenty tall enough to get some of the ornaments up high. Good design is not necessarily complicated-an edited and simple gesture can be just grand. It just means that all of the effort it took to produce that gesture came ahead of the display, and is not visible. I am not so good at editing at the holidays; I like to add, and then add a little more. Getting the ornament to the tops of these trees is about making an effort. Sometimes a solid effort is sometimes all you need to bring a smile to someone’s face.
Should I get to the office later than Steve in the morning, he will have turned on the lights. It is dark late into the morning now. The past few weeks I have been noticing all the bits and pieces I have placed in the windows. I finally noticed all of that was apparent from the street. I have 4 large scale factory windows with sills a foot deep. These surfaces had accumulated all manner of unrelated objects that just needed to be put away. In short, my window sills had that littered look. With the remaining Japanese maple branches, Pam and I dressed a collection of vintage American jars with small holiday topiaries. I glued on the berries; Pam did the bottoms. We did 26 in all.
From outside, the look is much improved. Sometimes the smallest change can make a big impact. Changing what I have become used to is the toughest change to make. What is familiar has a way of hanging on with me.
It is great fun for me to outfit the front of the shop for the winter. I can do the work in bits and pieces. I can change my mind, or change direction. I do it up as little or as much as I want. I spend lots of hours at work, so I have time to look at it and think. It is still dark when I get to work, so I see what it looks like at night. Though I hate like heck repeating myself, I did drape the windows with burlap again this year-that’s how much I liked the look. Those went up weeks ago, before the winter work rush.
Jenny and Pam wrapped the trunks of the linden trees. Given the recent temperatures of 7 and 8 degrees, this not only looks plausible, it looks like a good idea.
Steve and his crew hung the drapes, and made the light garlands. What started out as white orange green and gold lights are now white, gold and red. I seem to be in the mood for red. Part of that inclination comes from an unexpected source. A client who purchased a new home was not so thrilled with the 17 trees jammed into a small urban lot. A number of them were Japanese maples, impossible to transplant. Though I am not a big fan of Acer palmatum, it was hard enough to chop them down, much less pitch them out. So those tall branches have a home in my 6 pots out front. Red-leaved Japanese maples branches-what can I do to honor them?
This picture should make obvious that any gesture in the landscape needs to be a substantial one. This looks for all the world like I just barely got going-which is true. I am thinking a little red would do this scene a world of good. Red in the landscape tends to read in a very subtle way-so I am also thinking that whatever red I plan to put here needs to be a lot.
Everything in sight has that bronzy brown hue; even my boxwood goes orangy brown with cold weather. It is beautiful, in a very austere way. There are months ahead where austere will rule-I am not ready for that yet.
The lighting adds a lot of color and sparkle, but I did not have a good idea about how to introduce daytime color until a few days ago. Rob and I have had discussions on and off this season about the problem of berries. Berries in a winter landscape sound great-but the choices are not so great. Good looking artificial berries tend to be paper wrapped. This means they are intended for interior use. All plastic berry stems are not so great looking-unless you are a considerable distance away. Spraying the winterberry with a strong antidessicant has worked so far for me, but they make a modest red gesture-not a big one. So maybe some berries for all these branches.
These snow covered branches look great, illuminated by the lights on the drapes. I so wish I had gotten some berries on these branches before the snow, but I am sure there is snow to come. I cannot remember the last time we had snow and very cold temperatures like this so early in December. It was too cold to work outside yesterday-7 degrees, and very windy. Temps in the 20′s today will seem like a heatwave.