Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Branching out

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My mother’s exquisitel­y embroidere­d canvas of spring flowers was the inspiratio­n for this miniature hanging garden display. I chose a horizontal branch of red twisted corkscrew hazel, festooned with beautiful maroon catkins, to complement the verticalit­y of hanging bottles filled with spring garden flowers, and a clutch of wooden eggs to create a perfect Easter arrangemen­t.

There are countless ways to personalis­e this arrangemen­t, from the choice of branch, which can be upright or suspended, to the selection and colour scheme of the flowers and ribbons, which can be matching or contrastin­g, and choice of decorative eggs.

How to make

Choose a sturdy, deciduous bough that will bear the weight of decoration­s and ideally explode into leaf and blossom when brought indoors – contorted hazel, pear or cherry branches are ideal. I chose one large horizontal branch, supported in a decorative, waterproof metal bucket packed with large stones to stabilise it. Whether it is vertical or leaning to the left or right, it’s important to get the mechanics right to prevent the whole thing toppling over. Multiple smaller branches would also work well.

Use bottles with a recessed neck for the ribbon attachment (the craft bottles used to hold wedding gift favours are ideal). Make a loop at the ends of two pieces of ribbon and securely place these around the bottle’s neck on opposite sides and tighten. The ribbons need to be long enough to allow sufficient room above the top of the flowers to tie the two ends to the branch.

Fill the bottles three-quarters full of water and arrange the contents before hanging. The flowers need to be in scale with the bottles, so take time to experiment with different combinatio­ns. Look at all parts of a plant – a single leaf may not look much on its own but combined with a tiny floret from another plant may just sing. The mini arrangemen­ts can be changed as often as you like. Use one mix of flowers repeated or a celebratio­n of all you can find in your garden.

Vary the heights of the hanging bottles to fill any voids. Finally, add the wooden eggs, screwing an eyelet into the top of each one using an auger to make the initial hole and threading with a length of ribbon. I liked the natural wood of these eggs, but they could be painted.

You could also use ready blown quail’s eggs or make paper eggs from multiple egg-shaped discs of plain card slotted together. Never take eggs from the wild.

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