Holiday Floral Design with Garden Study Club

Holiday floral design was the theme of Garden Study Club’s November meeting here in Dothan.  Nothing inspires me more than being in a group of expert gardeners who have such a passion for the floral arts!  This long-standing club has been an integral part of the Dothan Area Botanical Garden and is instrumental in planning the area’s annual spring garden tour.  Collectively, there is probably not a single gardening question that could go unanswered in this charming and energetic group of talented women.  Although I was there to give a demonstration, I left the meeting with new insights along with a host of new gardening friends.

Susan Livingston’s garden provided a picturesque backdrop for the floral design “workshop”.


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Using greenery from her expansive yard and garden, Susan arranged a lovely seasonal arrangement in a classic urn on her dining room table – perfect for holiday entertaining.


Now on to the demonstration . . .

A  27-inch racquette holder is a great floral design staple for the holidays.  After soaking the oasis filled form, seasonal greenery from magnolia to cedar to Cryptomeria can be inserted to make a mantelpiece or centerpiece that will literally last for the entire holiday season.  Check the hydration every few days.  It may be necessary to take the form outside and saturate with water from a garden hose.   Fresh flowers such as roses, hydrangeas, Dendrobium orchids, or Amaryllis can also be added for an elegant display.  The flowers can be discarded and replaced as needed throughout the season.  4-inch burlap ribbon was attached  around the periphery, but this can be omitted with cascading greenery added instead if using for a mantel.  Blocks of soaked oasis can also be used in your favorite container for a long-lasting holiday arrangement utilizing these same design principles.   Fresh bittersweet was used below, but holly berries or Hypericum berries would work well, too.


A three-tiered metal piece, filled with Smilax, holly, and Loquit foliage can be assembled in literally minutes for a captivating foyer arrangement or for a table display on a large buffet table.  Pomegranates, apples, and citrus fruit are other options to add.

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Dried sorghum and sunflowers were gathered locally to use in the autumn design below.  Wooden plateau and sliced tree rounds are versatile for holiday decorating, and can be found in many retail and craft stores. I even saw some very attractive “stumps” displayed outside one of our local Publix stores that would work well!   Antique olive jars were filled with flowers and set on the plateau while gigantic, drying sunflower heads were piled at the base.  This year I discovered how beautiful the aging, dying sunflowers looked in the sunflower fields.  The ray flowers were pulled off,  and the beautiful discs were left to display.


Next, the arrangement above is transitioned (below) to a more Christmas or winter themed design with the addition of a wooden pedestal decorated with cedar and  surrounded by pillar candles, pine cones,  and greenery.  Again, use your imagination to add white roses for an all white vignette or add traditional holly and red roses.


Three of my fall staples:  ornamental gale, Jarrahdale pumpkins,  Eucalyptus, and succulents!  Arrange them in a pretty pewter or silver gallery tray for an instant, almost effortless arrangement.  To add a bit more detail, place roses or hydrangeas in small pieces of soaked oasis on the tray.


In the new two photographs, a reclaimed wooden box made by a local craftsman, is filled with Belles of Ireland, roses, ornamental kale,  dried hydrangeas, Nandina foliage, berries and large sunflower discs.

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Give your dough bowl a fall make-over with kale, dried hydrangeas, Eucalyptus, and American Beautyberry.  Transition to the Christmas season with assorted greenery.


Rustic baskets and wooden implements are my “go to” pieces for autumn floral design.  Each October I order fresh bittersweet from a source in New England.  It simply wouldn’t be fall without it!    My Mother introduced me to it years ago, and loved using it in her designs.  It can easily last for up to a year inside, and goes from fall to the Christmas season.


Use God’s bounty of nature for rustic, yet refined, floral design in your home during this season of joy and thanksgiving..


“All gardeners live in beautiful places, because they make them so.”  – Joseph Joubert


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