Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
November, 2005
Regional Report

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Hydrangea topiary is easy to make and long-lasting indoors.

Sweet, Sentimental Topiaries

When we think of a classic Southern holiday decorating scheme, natural is the word. We use holly and nandina for their red berries, cedar boughs cut from the back pasture, and pyramidal "trees" covered in oranges and pomegranates. For generations we have used what was handy and spruced it up to impress the company.

Hydrangeas get positively elegant when you dress them up for the holidays. Because they hold their flowers into the fall, they are an obvious, and obviously beautiful, choice. Gather a few simple items together and create stunning topiaries for the foyer or a sideboard. One on each side of a fruit and magnolia centerpiece will make your buffet table the talk of the town.

Decorate Up
For each topiary, you'll need: 1) small clay pot (4 to 5 inches is plenty) and paint or wrapping paper to cover it; 2) wire-edged ribbon (2 inches wide, 2 feet long); 3) Styrofoam chunks (purchase a square and cut into smaller blocks or wedges); 4) one large or two smaller hydrangea flowers with stems; 5) slim bamboo stakes and floral wire (unless your stems are very stiff); 6) a handful of sphagnum moss.

Hydrangeas usually dry with pale versions of their original colors intact, and by choosing complementary colors for the pot and ribbon, you can bring out the muted tones. Or grab a spray can of gold gilt and touch them up or spray them completely. Then use gold, red, or green for the accent colors.

Once they're ready, wire the stems to their stakes and set them aside. Decorate the pot and fill it with tightly fitting foam chunks. Stick the stakes into the center piece of foam, cover the top of the pot with sphagnum moss and tie the ribbon around the stakes just below the flower heads. Voila! Fast, cheap, classy, and simply southern!

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