Page 21 - The Hunt Magazine - Winter 2019
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                 what you’re thinking of, perhaps a ride around town on yard-trash day will yield branches that others have pruned and are throwing away.
If it’s put out for disposal, you may take it. But don’t cut material from fields or peoples’ landscapes without permission. Florists, farmers’ markets and Christmas tree farms are great sources of evergreen material, too. Some people even buy growing evergreen plants to chop up for arrangements. After the holidays, you can cut and use boughs from your own real Christmas tree for this decorating purpose.
Before you start arranging, condition your materials. For woody materials, split two to three inches of the bases to help them absorb water. Set them in a cool place in large buckets of lukewarm water. Put live cut branches in for eight to 10 hours of soaking before working with them. For the longest lasting arrangements, spray them with antidesiccant when you remove them. Don’t pre-soak dried items like grasses, pine cones or dried pods.
A typical recipe for an arrangement uses many branches of three or four types, plus
decorative elements like berries. For just one arrangement, you could use 10 boughs of hemlock, five branchlets of white
pine, three clusters of rhododendron or magnolia leaves, six stems of winterberry, and assorted grasses, pinecones and
dried pods.
Begin with the largest evergreen boughs to shape the arrangement. With clippers, trim off the base of the stem and lower side branches, and insert the main stems deeply into the container, one by one. Aim each branch bottom at the center of the pot to create a well-balanced appearance. Then move on to the next largest branches, and then the next. End with the smallest, most decorative and fragile elements. If you don’t like what you see, you can add more items or remove them—or just shorten everything for a more compact look. You’re the designer, so suit yourself.
Ribbons, curly willow branches, brown hydrangea blooms (or gold-sprayed ones) and unusual items are allowed. If fresh, the curly willow or red-twig dogwood stems may root in the pot by spring, Use plenty of everything, because you never know what
will happen. One year, designer Michael Bowell gave me some large branches of
red winterberries that I used for a showy outdoor arrangement. It all looked great for a month, until hungry birds ate every bright berry. Birds have to live, so I found more plants to prune and then fit the pieces into the empty spaces. My arrangement lasted the rest of the winter.
Evergreens symbolize plant rebirth and, in turn, any rebirth. This year, celebrate the winter solstice with a lovely large arrange- ment that suits the season.o
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