A garden can be so many things –a source of food for pollinators and birds, a vibrant and beautiful space for people, an area for quiet relaxation to sip your morning coffee, a gathering place for friends and family, and (particularly at this time of year) a source of inspiration!
Recently we have been especially inspired by the winter garden –as the loud splashes of spring and summer color have given way to a softer, more subtle palette of warm tones and textures. This time of year when the colder weather keeps us inside, seeing the garden still silently standing and ready to welcome visitors with a visual spectacle can be invigorating. One way you can enjoy the splendor of the winter garden is to compose a dried flower arrangement for an accent in the living room or as a centerpiece to a holiday table.
Below are photos of two bud vases I brought home last weekend –I was bummed to think it would sit empty until next spring when there were flowers in the garden. But then I popped outside to find beautiful colors and textures waiting for me in the landscape. It was easy to chase the winter blues away with a new floral arrangement!
Here are some basic guidelines you can follow to get a polished look:
- Take advantage of different textures and colors. The winter garden is full of bold seed heads, feathery grasses, and delicate, airy structures. Search the garden for your favorite combinations and juxtapose them together.
- Select a strong vertical element to add height to your composition.
- Add a lot of material to give the composition depth and make the vase look full. Grassy textures work really well as both a filler and textural contrast.
Keep an eye out for interesting structures:
- Leaves and Seed Heads of Cup Plant. Very bold shape and they have a sand-papery texture. Seed heads have a nice dark color and large size and are suitable for a focal point of an arrangement.
- Seed heads of Black-Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Beebalm. These rounded shapes in differing hues all add a nice punctuation to an arrangement. They look really nice in the middle as a filler.
- Empty pods of Milkweeds. The (now emptied) seed pods take on a gold tone that can be especially festive this time of year as an accent. The lighter color also contrasts nicely with darker seed heads of Black-Eyed Susans.
- Stiff Goldenrod. This plant has a beautiful structural stem and puffy seed heads and bracts maintain a subtle yellow tone. Again a great contrast for darker browns.
- Stems of Red Twig Dogwood. Like the name suggests, these shrubs have vibrant stems that are great as a vertical element and color accent. They also look great on their own in a vase.
A few additional tips:
- Cut your stems as long as you can (and longer than you think!). It’s always better to have extra length to work with as you position each stem –it’s much easier to position stems in the vase if they can reach the bottom and you can always trim away the excess. Keep a pair of scissors or pruners handy while you work so you can trim as you go.
- Cut a stem too short? I had that problem while working with the smaller vase. I thought I’d cut enough length but then when I went to arrange the stems they kept flopping out the sides of the vase since they didn’t have enough support. To solve this I took a small piece of clear tape and wrapped it around the point where all the stems met and made sure it was hidden below the rim of the vase. This secured all the shorter stems together and allowed them to sit at the height I wanted.
- If all of your material is fully dried, do not add water to the vase. If you want to add green elements like branches from evergreens, you can add them to a dry vase and swap them out when they need a refresh or keep all your green stems in a separate arrangement and add water.
So, get outside (clippers in hand) and experiment with cuttings from your garden –it is a great way to have a little fun this winter season.