Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
This time of year offers floral designers an opportunity to showcase their holiday designs.
There are so many types of materials that can be used to create seasonal arrangements for the holidays. Among these are holiday greens, berried branches, and pine cones.
Letís start with holiday greens. These may be either branches or boughs with evergreen needles or broadleaf foliage. The types traditionally used can vary somewhat from one region to another, depending on the availability of suitable materials.
One of the best known and preferred needled holiday greens is the Noble fir. Grown in the West, these tend to be long lasting and high quality. It is native to the Pacific Northwest.
In the East, the Fraser fir is a favorite for both Christmas trees and holiday greens. This species is seen more commonly in the Southeast. The dark green, shiny needles are flattened. Balsam fir is a related species that grows wild in northern Canada and parts of the U.S. Like the Fraser fir, this is an important Christmas tree in some areas. The dark shiny needles have silvery white stripes.
Silver fir, which grows in the West, is a related species that is good for cut greens. It is native to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. This is named for the silver bands that can be seen on the shiny needles.
Cedars of different types are also used not only for their color but their refreshing fragrance. Incense cedar is especially fragrant. This is native to parts of Oregon and California. The dark green leaves are scale-like, and are similar to those of the junipers. It is named for its fragrance.
In both the eastern and western parts of the country, there are red cedars, which are great for holiday florals. In the East, we have the native wild juniper or eastern redcedar, which is very aromatic. This has lovely blue berries. The very small, blue-green leaves are scale-like. There is a southern redcedar that is very similar to the eastern redcedar. This grows along the coastal plains of the South. Its leaves are light green. If you have a chance, choose a red cedar with berries. They can add interest to designs. These small fleshy fruits ripen to dark blue.
White pine is another regional green. This is more commonly seen in the East. It is native to the Northeast, but is widely planted elsewhere in the East. This has striking blue-green needles with white stripes. Sometimes, the branches arenít as full as some of the firs and spruces. So, it is often used in combination with other holiday greens.
Among the broadleaf favorites of all would be the hollies and boxwood. Variegated holly is especially nice as it adds an extra element of color to holiday arrangements. In a pinch, I imagine you could replace holly with the osmanthus, which is known as false Japanese holly. The leaves look remarkably like those of true holly.
Boxwood wreaths and boxwood topiary trees have long been traditional for the