Every gardener’s circumstances are different, but our December is notable for the coming of the cold. No matter what year it is, my plan for the holiday and winter garden at the shop has to include an element that is warm. The lighting is warm. Sparkly or reflective materials can be warm. The sentiment of the season can be warm. Rob says the shop garden this year is cozy. As in yard after yard of thick fir garland. Concolor fir, noble, silver, Douglas, balsam-fir is a very sturdy and long lasting green outdoors. The garland was loosely wrapped with grapevine garland. The contrast of the bare vines and the lush garland The window boxes have fir blankets. The windows have fir hats. It was 14 degrees this morning when I took this picture, but the garden looks warm.
The window boxes are stuffed with mixed greens. As the mixed greens are long and lax, we do a few rows of noble fir at the bottom of the greens to support the entire arrangement. Noble fir is very stiff and strong. Winter weather can be fierce. Snow, wind, ice and various mayhem from the sky can take a toll on a container garden one would want to last until March. Making an arrangement sturdy and strong is more than half of the work of it.
The centerpieces are composed of red bud pussy willow, ochre eucalyptus, a few springs of metallic gold eucalyptus, and a ruff of gold sinamay. For good measure, a dollop of sugar pine cones completes the look. Given that the building is large, and the garden is mostly viewed from the street, or from a car, the materials are over scaled. A smaller pine cone would not have much impact given the scale of the building.
Over the summer, these Belgian blue stone plinths supported Italian terra cotta pots with boxwood spheres. Winter arrangements in my zone ask for pots that are frost proof. Though boxwood is generally hardy in pots, I would be uneasy about an extended period of low temperatures. We have had an uncharacteristically cold late fall-12 degrees overnight is much more like late January than early December. This garden would have a very bleak look, but for its winter dress.
Winter gardens are for viewing from a distance. It is unlikely anyone will be lingering here for long. Big, warm, and simple gestures go a long way towards banishing the winter blues. A design which gives the illusion of warmth is appreciated when the weather is so dreary. Decorating the garden has its benefits. It feels good to have something to do that at least approximates gardening. And it is nice to have something good to look at while the garden is dormant. This garden is just about ready for the snow.
The fir hats over the windows are composed of garlands that are attached to bamboo poles. Garden has a natural tendency to fall, swoop and swag. If you want a straight and orderly appearance, a bamboo pole will keep all of the clippings in line. The poles are then wired to the pediment. I like this construction technique for mantels too.
My favorite part of this winter garden are the garlands and grapevines on the tree trunks. Deciduous trees have a very spare and sculptural look during the winter. These over sized scarves that puddle on the ground make the trees look protected and warm.
There are those places yet to finish. These urns need something. The pots need some lighting. A favorite part of this winter project is the ability to work on it as time and inspiration permits. Last January I had the basic idea for the garden. I ordered boxes of grapevine garland, for the building, and the trees, and for Rob’s steel hanging spheres. Taking the time to let a garden space speak back is my idea of luxury, and part of the great pleasure of the doing. I may still be tinkering with this 2 weeks from now. There’s no rush. Winter will be with us for a long time.
It does not matter whether you are stitching a quilt, designing a garden, composing a song, painting a picture, or writing a book-the creative process is a very special state of mind. I don’t know that I could describe it very well, except to say that the moment when all of ones every day cares and obligations drop away, and all that is left is a collection of thoughts, a vocabulary, some tools, and a willing hand is a precious moment indeed.
Wreath making is a personal description of the natural world, on a small scale. One can easily hang the work on the front door. It could be complex and rich. It could be simple and spare. It could be Williamsburg like in feeling. It could be funny, or operatic. It could be anything. Imagining the possibilities is work well worth the time it takes to imagine.
This 18 wreath project is a project I treasure, as it gives me the time and the space to focus, express, interpret, try out, fiddle and fuss. It would never occur to me to judge the importance or lack thereof regarding a holiday wreath. What is important is the making. Making is very important to my life-just like it is to so many other people. Making it to work on time, making a sculpture, making a solution, making dinner-people make things. There is an art to a life, but there is also a craft.
We are pretty busy right now. The holiday pots, the holiday decorating, the lighting, the clients interested in our take on how to dress their front porch winter, or how they should set a holiday dinner party table. We are in the thick of it. I rather like all the commotion. But I also like those moments when the work is not really work. Those moments spent crafting a story. There is a story about the relationship of one material to another, the scale, the texture, the color-the line and direction. The story I interpret for a client. The season, the materials.
If you are keen to design and make, you know exactly what this moment feels like. These 18 wreaths will be shipped out tomorrow. I hope that each and every person scheduled for a holiday wreath from my client will enjoy them. I know I thoroughly enjoyed making them.