The Holiday Garland

floral-picks.jpgConstructing evergreen garlands is not a job I would tackle.  I buy them already made from Dan Prielipp at my local farmer’s market.  He makes them up thick for me from a number of species of fir boughs. A 50 foot length is incredibly heavy.  So much wood in those boughs, and so much water.  I can put evergreen boughs together to decorate a mantel, but garland construction I leave to the professionals.  I am, however, able to decorate a garland. To tell the truth, that decoration is my favorite part.  I take the additions of decor to a garland seriously.  My crew will be hanging a very heavy and very long object from a home or commercial building. Anything I add to that should be strong and firmly attached.  The wired floral picks pictured above are an essential element of the construction.  My additions to the garland will require wood of its own.

garland-materials.jpgIt took most of today to decorate the garland I will hang at home.  I designed from the materials that were still available.  Detroit Garden Works has sold thousands of fresh cut branches, several hundred cases of fresh cut evergreens – and closing in on a thousand bunches of preserved eucalyptus.  As much as I love the eucalyptus, I had only 2 color choices left.  Pink, or black.  The winter season is black enough for this gardener.  Black at my front door-not a chance.  Too gloomy.  Pink it was.  Designing a garland for the holidays with pink-I rather liked the challenge.

decorating-the-garland.jpgAny element I add to a holiday garland gets put together ahead of time.  Under no circumstances would I set up a ladder next to a garland that has already been hung, and proceed to work.  First of all, it was 17 degrees today.  Secondly, any construction project asks for a work surface at elbow height, a full compliment of materials, and a better than full compliment of tools.  This garland will be decorated with magnolia stems, pine cones, and pink eucalyptus.  I put a bouquet together with a zip tie.  Once every element is arranged as it should be, I tighten the tie, and clip off the tail.

glued-and-wired.jpgI shorten all of the stems of the materials, insert a floral pick, wire the pick to the stems, and soak the entire affair with hot melt glue.  I want but one stem to go into the garland.  Many stems are not very cooperative with one another.  The garland is composed of boughs that are quite tightly wired together.  There are not so many spaces to insert other material.  One pick, to which all of the other elements are attached, goes into the garland.

garland-materials.jpgWhat next?  This is a design question that had much to do with color.  How would I make that pink flavored eucalyptus look like my first choice for a holiday garland? Luckily, fresh green looks good with just about any color. Nothing struck my eye, until I saw these small faux orange fruits.  I have no idea what fruit they intend to represent.  Mini persimmons?  Orange cherry tomatoes?  I wasn’t going to quibble about the thought behind these little fruits.  I needed to make that pink look good.

garland-decoration.jpgI made 18 of these small bouquets-all of them road and weather ready.  The orange and pink combination was starting to interest me. The pine cones seem so essential to any holiday garland.  There are so many different types and sizes.  We stock tropical as well as native cones; they all speak to the holidays and the winter season.  These magnolia branches are from a supplier that specializes in naturally grown, unpruned, and small leaved bunches. The large dark green leaf is a beautiful foil to the evergreen needles.  The brown felted obverse of the leaves is a gorgeous texture and color.

garland-decoration.jpgMy pink eucalyptus was beginning to look very festive.  I wasn’t all that worried.  Any materials can be put together in an interesting way. The holiday garland is an expression of warmth and celebration.  That expression can be realized in lots of ways.  In no end of color schemes.  No rules.  That simple moment when materials say hello to the imagination is pure pleasure.

assembling-the-garland.jpgA good many feet of this garland has been strapped to a stout bamboo pole. I like my garland straight.  Given that evergreen garland wants in the worst way to drape, I attach this particular garland to a pole.  A garland which is wired to a pole only needs a few points of attachment.  A pair or 3 screws, into the mortar joints. Holiday garland not only needs to be beautiful, it needs to be ready and friendly to hang.  My crew never complains about anything, ever.  They are unfailingly good natured.  This makes me determined to make an installation as smooth as I can.

garland-decoration.jpgIt took most of today to get this garland decorated, and ready to hang.  I glued and wired every bouquet to the horizontal part of the garland.  The garland that hangs down the sides of the front porch-who knows where the evergreen chips may fall.  A garland is guaranteed to twist until it comes to rest.  The additional decorations are glued and wired such that they could be easily attached to the sides after the garland is hung.

holiday-decor.jpgAs for my pots-pink eucalyptus, and curly copper willow.  I may add some coppery brown sinamay shot through with gold threads to the mix. My holiday at home is taking shape.



    Often times these circumstances (limited supply) bring about spectacular results we might never have thought of, splendid

  2. Beautiful!

  3. Simply stunning….and, even better, unexpectedly so.

  4. I would love to see the finished garland hanging. Just beautiful. I learn something new with each of your postings. LOVE it!!!!!!

  5. JoyceB in Atlanta says

    Wow! This is my kind of color scheme. Very interesting about attaching the garland to a bamboo pole to make it easier to hang. I’ll save this post to refer to for next year’s decorating. This looks perfect for a deck rail application. So many times, people use only lights that look ugly in daylight. Thanks for the clear instructions. I recently signed up for your blog and have enjoyed reading every post. So glad I found you.

  6. Donna Perdue says

    Beautiful combination.

  7. Great color combo! I learned the hard way about making garland- thought I could do just a simple one but my hands paid the price- with gloves. How does your inspiration start with the different colors on decorating the garland? Do you use what’s “seasonal” or just continually trying new combos and experimenting ? Thanks, again lovely colors.

  8. Truly inspirational…Gorgeous!!

  9. Finding you on the internet was a happy coincidence this 2013 holiday season. The nursery that I hoped would make my exterior floral Christmas decorations this year “lost” my contact info and did not contact me. Simultaneously, I found your blog and websites. I have received enormous pleasure in creating my own floral decorations, based on the artistry that you have kindly shared with us. With my very best wishes.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Christine, perhaps you were hoping for the opportunity to create something very personal. It sounds like you got your wish. Happy holidays to you, Deborah

  10. Gorgeous! how/ where do you get pink eucalyptus? that don’t bleed in the elements?

    • Deborah Silver says

      The pink eucalyptus comes from my shop-Detroit Garden Works. The color process involves preservative that is absorbed by the leaves and stems. The color is not painted on-the color does not run.

  11. I am going to attempt to recreate your pots I found downtown, the ones with eucaluptus and willows. Can I get the eucaluptus and willows to stay just as you did above witha zip tie and floral pick? Can I purchase those at your store?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Tiffany, I would need to see a picture of what you were looking at to tell you if we still have the materials. You may need a little sturdier stake than a floral pick. Thanks, Deborah

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