photographs by brittany ambridge produced by tom borgese text by brittany s. chevalier
Sure, poinsettias, amaryllis, and paperwhites are tried-and-true wintertime favorites, but introducing unconventional flora into your bouquets can offer an inspired take on seasonal centerpieces. These modern classics, made with easy-to-find materials, will help you avoid run-of-the-mill holiday arrangements.
fruits and vegetables
While our parents told us never to play with our food, trips to the produce section can yield ideal candidates—such as nuts, citrus, and colorful root vegetables—for seasonal arrangements. Place them in large terra-cotta planters or wooden serving bowls for rustic appeal.
As alternatives to commonplace vases, floral stylist Tom Borgese (tomborgese.com) suggests using teacups, tin cans with artistic labels, shapely beer bottles, and even used perfume bottles.
The elegant stems of freesia and bouvardia mingle in a transparent vase.
When you’re looking for a change from vibrant, full blooms, Borgese recommends considering the architecture of flowering branches. “Being a little bare doesn’t mean it’s void of visual beauty,” he explains. “While a full bouquet is a painting, a sparse one can make a lovely drawing.” When using glass cylinders, be sure to trim off all the leaves under the water line. Not only does it look nicer, but the arrangement will also last longer without organic matter decomposing in the water.
Blending the last of the season’s hydrangeas (even dried ones!) with dahlias, dried queen protea, and artichokes introduces texture to the floral composition. Borgese likes the easygoing nature of pitchers: the base is usually wide enough to contain an array of flowers, while the tapered top holds everything together.
Branches draw the eye upward, adding height to an arrangement and enhancing its focal point.
checks and balances
Adding branches or fern fronds boosts the scale of a smaller floral display. For larger arrangements, make sure the vase is substantial enough to counterbalance the weight of the heavier stems. Also, branches tend to gunk up the water, so an opaque vase is preferable.