My inspiration for this design is simply the Christmas season. I wanted to create a centerpiece with wintry blooms and fruit while also using materials that can be easily found around you and that grow locally. It’s an effortless way to incorporate the outdoors into your indoor environment during the colder months.
I love clipping handfuls of materials from my own backyard, and for this arrangement I’m using several items from my home garden, such as the hellebores, evergreen, and holly.
By including pomegranates, persimmons, figs, and chestnut branches into the mix, it not only enhances the overall red and green tones, but it also builds on the spirit of the holidays. When adding fruit into an arrangement, I prefer ones on branches because they can be placed throughout rather than sitting along the container’s rim. Other fruits that would work well are clementines, kumquats, and even pears, which you could stake if you’re afraid of them falling off of the branch.
And if dahlias aren’t easily available, or you’d like another traditional holiday flower, amaryllis would also really stand out. — Emily Kennedy
Emily Kennedy’s Floral Tutorial
MATERIALS & TOOLS
Chestnut branches, evergreen branches, hellebores, weigela leaves, rose hips, fern, holly, croton leaves, dahlias, ranunculus, spray roses, milkweed, black-eyed Susans, gomphrena, coneflowers, pomegranates, unripe persimmons, figs, container, floral tape, floral foam, coated chicken wire
Soak the floral foam and fit it into the container. Cut another block into smaller pieces to fill in the gaps. (I typically use floral frogs, but they won’t support the weight of the heavier branches I’m using in this arrangement.) Take a piece of the chicken wire, which is cut in a square, and tuck it in around the sides of the container, creating a dome. Coated chicken wire works best because it’s green and doesn’t scratch up your container. Cut two strips of floral tape and make an X over the center of the dome.
When starting an arrangement, I like to go in a particular order: greenery, focal flowers, fillers, and lighter materials. Begin with the greens first to establish the foundation, and work to create a high and a low point by visualizing a triangle. A triangular shape creates dimension, height, and— of course—three points. Begin with a chestnut branch and place it in the center of the foam, letting it naturally lean outward. Then take a smaller chestnut branch and cross over the larger branch at the base to create a V shape.
Next add in the evergreen branches to the front and sides of the arrangement. These branches are great for texture and really say holiday to me. I also love how they introduce a deeper shade of green. Pay attention to the way each branch falls, and let some spill out over the top of the container to help mask the chicken wire. Add more chestnut branches to create volume. You want to make a solid base to ensure that the colorful flowers will really pop.
Winter months are a prime season for hellebores, and I adore this particular shade of green. Place them among the evergreen and chestnut, filling in holes. For even more texture and color, add a few sprigs of variegated weigela, rose hips, fern, and holly—be careful that it doesn’t stick you! At this stage, it helps to rotate the arrangement as you add in new elements to make sure you’re maintaining the triangular shape and filling in gaps in the chicken wire. Finally, add a few croton leaves throughout, and nestle two of them close together low and in the front of the arrangement. By placing them side by side, it creates a frame for your showstopper bloom.
Now that you’ve finished adding your greens and establishing the shape, start adding in the flowers. I like to start with the biggest bloom, which in this case is a dahlia. Take the largest one and place it in the middle of the two croton leaves, which will help her to really shine. Continue by adding the other smaller dahlias to the arrangement. However, if you aren’t sure where to place the rest, take a step back and start adding the filler flowers such as the ranunculus, spray roses, milkweed, and black-eyed Susans. It’s very important that you let the flowers talk to you—if a bloom wants to curve one way, don’t make it go the other. This makes the arrangement look more natural.
Next add some lighter materials, which I like to call dancing elements. They give the arrangement some playful accents and carry the colors upward. The dancers in this arrangement are the gomphrena and coneflowers. You can also use some more ranunculus, but they tend to feel a little heavy that high up
Finish off the arrangement by adding the fruit. I chose pomegranates, persimmons, and figs because they work with my color scheme. Place some pomegranates near the dahlias, letting them hang over the edge. They’re my favorite for the holidays, so I want them front and center. For the persimmons, tuck them in near the middle of the arrangement because the fruit is heavy and they should be surrounded by material on all sides to help keep them in place. Because the figs have a sturdier branch, I treat them like my other dancers and have them floating around the top.
POMEGRANATES: I think these are best on the branch, especially in a winter arrangement. If they’re fully ripe, they can make a great focal point when placed near a showstopper flower or on their own. PERSIMMONS: I like their long, thinner branches. The fruit is on the heavy side though, so make sure the branches are really anchored into the floral foam. FIGS: For these, it’s very important to follow the curve. They have great height, which can play off of the triangular shape. Because they have woody, thicker branches, they easily add more dimension.