FRUITS of the Sea­son

Country Sampler - - Thrifty Thinking -

New Eng­land florist Michael Maskery, of The Fru­gal Flower in Sud­bury, Massachusetts, helps Linda and Joe Har­ris ready their Not­ting­ham, New Hamp­shire, home for their an­nual hol­i­day open house. “It gets big­ger and bet­ter ev­ery year,” Michael says. “The peo­ple who saw it last year will see some­thing new this year.” Here, he shares some of his fa­vorite tech­niques for cre­at­ing Colo­nial Christ­mas decor:

Fill your tool­box.

To make ar­range­ments like Michael has cre­ated, you’ll need the ba­sic tools, which in­clude a util­ity knife, flo­ral wire, a wire cut­ter, a glue gun and glue sticks, and flo­ral stakes, picks and pins. You’ll also want to gather base pieces, such as wreaths and flo­ral foam, along with con­tain­ers. “A florist’s best friends are wire and a glue gun,” says Michael, who of­fers this tip for quickly cov­er­ing large sur­faces with glue: “Melt glue into a glue pan, then dip decor into the pan.”

Branch out.

Michael of­ten uses box­wood to fash­ion the back­drop for fresh fruit trees. To be­gin, soak a cone-shaped flo­ral foam base in wa­ter, and then stud it with box­wood clip­pings. Use long wooden flo­ral picks to se­cure fresh ap­ples into the foam, dot­ting the tip of each pick with glue be­fore in­sert­ing it into the foam. Heav­ier fruits, like pineap­ple, re­quire a lit­tle ex­tra sta­bi­liza­tion. “Pierce the pineap­ple with a long flo­ral stake and in­sert it deep into the foam top so the group­ing won’t tip over from the weight,” Michael ad­vises.

Shoot for the moon.

When it comes to fash­ion­ing a pretty ped­i­ment top­per, like the half-moon ex­am­ple in the Har­rises’ gar­den room, a large piece of light­weight foam in­su­la­tion board pro­vides a firm foun­da­tion. For an ar­range­ment of this scale, faux fruits are pre­ferred be­cause they are non­per­ish­able and are lighter than their fresh coun­ter­parts. Cut the board into your de­sired shape us­ing a util­ity knife. Glue fresh or faux mag­no­lia leaves to the board in over­lap­ping rows and top them with evenly spaced rows of faux ap­ples, or­anges, pears and lemons, with a faux pineap­ple in the cen­ter. Se­cure each piece in place with hot glue.

Seek pear-fec­tion.

Lend a room a bright spot for the hol­i­days and be­yond with a tree con­structed of faux pears. Be­gin by at­tach­ing sheet moss to a cone-shaped foam base with flo­ral pins. Af­fix faux pears to the moss us­ing dabs of hot glue, vary­ing their po­si­tions slightly but keep­ing them right side up. Fill the empty spa­ces with faux blackberries to add tex­ture and in­ter­est. “Pot it in an an­tique black urn and fin­ish with silk rib­bon, which can be changed out ac­cord­ing to the sea­son,” Michael sug­gests. “For spring, ex­change the black pot for a white ceramic one.”

Cir­cle around.

For an eye-catch­ing wreath, make sure the size suits your space and choose a frame ac­cord­ingly. Make bun­dles of fresh bal­sam, cedar and pine and wire them to­gether. “As you wire the bun­dles to the frame, you can con­trol the thick­ness and shape of the wreath,” Michael notes. When your ba­sic shape is done, glue or wire other de­sired el­e­ments, such as rib­bon, berries or fruits, in place around the wreath.

Far left: A fresh box­wood and ap­ple ar­range­ment, like this one in the gar­den room, will last through­out the hol­i­day sea­son if you reg­u­larly spritz its leaves with wa­ter.

A bucket bench in the gar­den room is stocked with crock­ery and con­tain­ers trimmed in sea­sonal fare. Be­side it, a large white crock full of red birch branches draws the eye up to­ward blooms dry­ing on the beams over­head.

Left: This hang­ing wooden win­nower (a farm­ing tool used to sep­a­rate wheat from chaff ) pro­vides a safe nest­ing place for a trio of bat­tery-pow­ered lu­mi­nar­ies on a bed of fresh greens, berries and painted pinecones.

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