Design Hints

Fruits of the Season

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. β€œIt gets bigger and better every year,” Michael says. β€œThe 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:
Fruits of the Season

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.

Written and Styled by Donna Pizzi
Photography by