Friday, April 29, 2011

Hatching Fresh Ideas

I just love these boughs of cherry blossoms that Larry cut from our tree yesterday! They are not particularly scented but this pre-foliage display is resplendent. This is the first year I have thought about using them in the house.

My cherry branch bouquet happened quite by accident. Yesterday Larry combined a trip into town on business with a stop at the market for me. Because we were having a little dinner party I asked him to pick up the bread last minute so that it would be as fresh as possible. I had intended to add fresh cut flowers to his list and forgot; so I called his cell hoping to catch him before he left for home. Unfortunately he was already in our driveway when he answered his phone.

Almost every room in our house has a view of our backyard. Given the amount of time I spend gazing at our landscape it seems so surprising to me that I hadn't considered using fruit tree blossoms in arrangements before now. We have at least 8 fruit trees that are presently in full bloom. I feel foolish admitting that this thought never occurred to me before yesterday. I am so happy with the way the cherry blossoms look on my kitchen island and my lady-guest was so complimentary! How glad I was that I forgot to ask Larry to buy flowers. Of course I didn't admit to my friend that the cherry boughs were an after-thought and frantically cut and arranged just prior to her arrival. (I'm entrusting you with this secret.)

We all know that a fruit tree blossom has a utilitarian purpose; it attracts the bees for pollination which enables its fruit production and/or plant propagation. However, I've decided that trees, in any stage of their cycle, are wonderful sources of both color and texture to visually delight us indoors as well as out. When planning an ornamental arrangement I think we need to condition ourselves to think beyond flowers which are grown expressly for use in bouquets. In addition to cut flowers consider fruit trees--both those that actually bear and the ornamentals--as foundational sources for cut arrangements.

There are also many flowering shrubs that bloom before they leaf and they too function well as cut flowers. Two great examples are the forsythia and the flowering quince. Selective snipping of twigs and branches will not diminish a plant's health or productivity and might actually invigorate it. So don't be shy about a little cutting here and there even in the midst of the bloom phase.

Flowering Quince

Perhaps the trees in your yard are already beyond the flower stage and so you will save this tip for next year, so here is an additional idea to consider. Tree pruning and shaping is usually carried out in late winter before blossoming. In the early months of the year, if you're not buried in snow, grab some sticks; some of what would otherwise just become part of your green waste. Even sticks look great in vases, so you might try mixing some of your own tree cuttings with dried reeds and grasses from a crafts store (such as Michael's). Below is an example of this idea. By the way, these vases are super-vintage Pottery Barn closeouts. These were a purchase I was talked into by a Pottery Barn customer service agent years ago! They were so inexpensive that I have since concluded that they were obviously not a Pottery Barn top seller. Nevertheless, the vases are a good fit on my wall and I periodically add interest to them with a few pieces dried tree trimmings from Larry's ever-growing burn pile.

Perhaps you will look at your own landscape from a new perspective. What do you have that might add a new dimension to a cut arrangement? Maybe there's a tree or shrub that provides a brilliant spring green during these months and an autumn red or gold in October or November. I am thinking of my red-twigged dogwoods. The little leaves are just emerging and are bright green. They would be stunning in a vase with a few stargazer lilies. Later in the year, when the leaves have once again dropped the branches will be brilliantly red. As I previously mentioned, even void of their leaves a few twigs and branches will add warmth, texture and structure to natural arrangements; perfect for use at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Red Twig Dogwood

I hope you will look enjoy taking a fresh look at your plantings. Maybe you will even consider a trip to your favorite garden center to buy something new; a tree or a bush that will lend it's beauty in a fresh, new way to your interior accents. As I write I hear the wind fiercely howling at the windows. My quince has begun to flower nicely so I'm hoping there are some blossoms left for me to bring inside tomorrow. I'll report back.

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