Sparkle, Anyone?

winter sparkle (11)
My first introduction to sparkle may have been a dress my Mom wore to a New Year’s Eve party at the Whitney in the 50’s. The fabric was woven from metallic thread in white gray and black.  The dress was shimmery.  At some point I would have seen a sequined ball gown, or black patent leather shoes.  Sparkly fabrics and materials were reserved for formal evening events, when the daylight had vanished, and the party lights were dialed down low.  Sparkly materials pick up and reflect whatever light there is available. Sparkling materials seem to glow or shine from within.  In any event, all things sparkly, metallic, shimmery and glittery suggest celebration.  Sparkle at this time of year is a pleasure to the eye.

winter sparkle (8)The transition from the fall to the winter season is marked the coming of the cold, and the dark.  If I drive home from work at 5:30, it is dark.  If I drive in to work at 7am, it is dark.  November and December cold is bearable. But the dark can be daunting.  Winter container arrangements and outdoor holiday decor that incorporates a little sparkle will read better in low light. This is a holiday season, meaning there is cause to celebrate.  The copper curly willow, magnolia and boxwood in this arrangement have a glossy surface that reflects the light.  The poly mesh fabric is shot through with a gold thread every so often.  Arranging it in multiple curves and layers present lots of metallic surface area to the available light.

winter sparkle (12)Most of the green in my garden is long gone, but for the evergreens.  Needled evergreens present as little in the way of surface area to winter sun and winds-this helps them to conserve whatever moisture they have stored to survive the winter. I don’t expect or get sparkle from evergreen boughs, unless I have sprayed them with wilt pruf or vaporgard.  These waxy antidessicants will impart some shine to your cut evergreens. Burt there are other ways to introduce a little sparkle.  If you use artificial holiday picks in your outdoor containers, test them first.  A dunk in a glass of water will tell you just about instantly whether the material is suitable for outdoor use.

holiday-sparkle.jpgPoly mesh is not a natural material.  It is just what the name says it is.  It will have the same springy shape in March that it has now. Plenty of companies make plastic ornaments for outdoor use at the holidays, but glass ornaments are fine. We all have windshields, don’t we?  If I use glass ornaments outdoors, I glue on and seal the caps.  As long as you can keep water outside of the ornament, you should be fine.  Natural Michigan holly is notorious for dropping its berries fairly quickly.  A thorough soaking with vapor gard will add lots of gloss to that gorgeous red, and help prevent berry drop.

holiday sparkleSparkle comes in an incredible variety of textures.  Glittered picks reflect lots of light.  Plastic sprayed with a metallic coating glows.  Ornaments coated in glass or plastic beads refract an incredible amount of light.  Anodized aluminum wire comes in a wide variety of colors. Some paper wrapped metallic picks will survive the winter outdoors-as long as there is no rain.  Only snow. Snow resistant is much different than water resistant.  Should you have lots of rain in November and December, an acrylic sealer might help you out.

winter sparkle (17)We did this pair of Branch tapers for holiday and winter today. The topiary forms were wound with lights after I took this picture.  The big leaves of preserved silver eucalyptus reflect a lot of light. Lots of black picks with rhinestone dots will reflect the natural and artificial light.  Lots of the frasier fir boughs have small shiny gray ornaments wired to the tips.

DSC_6670There are lots of opportunities for sparkle here.  Located at the end of the driveway, these will transform and reflect the available winter light many times over.

winter sparkle (16)This third pot is located under the under hang, and will never get much in the way of light.  The silver glittered sticks in the center will make the most of whatever light is available.  I have clients for whom natural materials are the materials of choice.  Others like a little sparkle.  The best part of decorating the garden is that so many materials are available, anyone can assemble a group of materials that perfectly expresses their own individual idea of the holiday.

winter sparkle (6)The pale gold metallic picks in several heights, the cream and gold sinamay, and the pale gold pine cones in this pot are rather subdued in this pot during the day.  Come dark, the garland lights on the topiary form will create a whole lot of sparkle.

winter sparkle (14)Glass is a highly reflective material. There are enough shapes, sizes, and colors of glass ornaments to inform countless different holiday designs outdoors.

holiday sparkle.jpgIn a dark interior room, glass ornaments will gently shimmer.  The plastic bead garlands pictured here come in a 30 foot length for 6.00. They can create a lot of holiday cheer, for not so much of an investment.

holiday-containers.jpgI have yet to see a landscape visually harmed by a little sparkle at the holidays.  This is the time of year when a little celebration seems just right.

magnolia-wreath.jpgMy favorite part of this magnolia holiday wreath?  The pale chocolate string ribbon-shimmering.

 

At A Glance: One Stem At A Time

one stem at a time 28
All of these winter containers came to be, one stem at a time. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoy the process.

one at a time (3)

one at a time (4)

one at a time 15

one at a time (1)

fiery

one at a time (7)

one at a time 22

one at a time 3

one at a time (2)one glass drop at a time.

one at a time 17

one at a time (10)

one at a time (5)

one at a time 24

one at a time 7

one at a time (9)

one at a time  9

one at a time (11)

one at a time 20

one at a time (8)

DSC_6573Lots of the pots pictured above were done by Rob. I learned from him how to slow down, and work one stem at a time.  He is confident enough to let a design evolve.  Nothing hurries him.  My advice?  Don’t hurry.  Take one step at a time.  Have fun.  Be challenged. Go ahead. Our 2014 winter and holiday container construction is underway-I hope yours is too.

At A Glance: More Warm For Winter

winter-pots.jpg
purple and lavender
winter-container.jpgDressing a fountain for winter

curly-copper-willow.jpgfinished arrangement

winter-containers.jpgFrancesca del Re terra cotta pot ready for winter

winter-white.jpgwinter white

winter-container.jpgblanket of noble and silver fir

copper-willow.jpgcollection of winter pots

winter-container-arrangement.jpg lead egg cup

winter-container-arrangement.jpgcurly copper willow and oregonia

winter-container.jpgred bud pussy willow, mixed greens, fan willow, and purple eucalyptus

winter-containers.jpgThe Avenue diner in Royal Oak

At A Glance: Evergreen Branches

concolor-fir.jpgconcolor fir, and coned spruce branches

coned-spruce-boughs.jpgconed spruce boughs

German-boxwood.jpgGerman boxwood in a 25 pound case

long-needled-pine.jpgLong needled pine

Magnolia-grandiflora.jpgmagnolia grandiflora

incense-cedar.jpgincense cedar

English-variegated-boxwood.jpgEnglish variegated boxwood

silver-fir-boughs.jpgSilver fir

small-leaved-magnolia wreath.jpgLittle leaved magnolia wreath

30-inch-tall-Brown-Bracken-magnolia-stems.jpg30″ tall Little leaved magnolia bunches

Port-Orford-cedar-branches.jpgPort Orford cedar

white-pine.jpgwhite pine, and coned spruce

Douglas-fir.jpgDouglas Fir

berried-juniper.jpgberried juniper

evergreen-boughs.jpgI would guess that I prune the evergreens in my yard back 6 inches in the spring.  A long and wild stem on a yew, I may prune back 16 inches. Do I prune in November?  Never.  But there are those farmers out there that grow evergreens with the idea to cut for the holiday season. Long trimmings grace no end of winter pots and garlands.   Our premium greens come 25 pounds to a case.  Each bough averages 18 inches in length.  We appreciate an emphasis on long and green for our  winter and holiday projects.  Greens of lesser quality are more about the woody trimmings, than the greens.

Florists greens are really short.  A centerpiece on a table needs much less in the way of length and volume than a winter container.  My advice- go for the long boughs.  I am appreciative of how many materials are available to me.  Any creative expression friendly to the garden begins and ends with what nature provides.   The evergreen boughs that will bring your holiday to life are brought to you by the farming community.  Do what you can to support them.