Last updated on December 6th, 2015
FLORAL DESIGNER ERIN BRADY stopped by the other day, armed with scissors, floral foam, and a box of fresh greens. Her mission? To show us how to turn stems of boxwood into magnificent trees. The fun procedure:
Note: If you don’t have boxwood in your garden, you can obtain the stems from your local, independent florist.
To start, choose a water-tight container. A shallow bowl is ideal. Because I’m a free-thinking anarchist, I selected a pair of small, cast-iron urns for my tree “stands.”
Unfortunately, my urns are not water-tight. They are equipped with drainage holes.
To solve the drainage hole dilemma, Erin took a pair of pint-size zip-lock bags, and cut off the “zippered” part.
The bags produced water-tight liners for the urns.
Next, attach a block of well-saturated floral foam to your container. Erin trimmed the foam to fit inside my newly-lined urns.
Use floral tape to secure the foam to your container.
Finally, insert the boxwood stems! Erin likes to place one sprig of greenery atop the floral foam just to determine the height of the arrangement. Then she moves onto the base.
Working in a clock-wise spiral, plunge stems along the base. As pictured above, we angled the lowest stems downward, in order to conceal the plastic bag- liner.
Inserting boxwood stems into floral foam is pure fun, especially if you sip a gin and tonic while you work.
True Confession: Erin and I did not sip gin and tonics. Instead, we tucked into some rather strange cookies that had arrived in the morning mail. The sender? My wonderful, wacky mother.
Fudge-covered Ritz crackers, anyone?
Honestly, when I saw these “holiday treats,” I had the following three thoughts:
2) Toss in garbage.
3) What the hell — try one.
And guess what? The cookies were not salty, as I’d expected. They were buttery, chocolatey, and — I’m embarrassed to say — delicious.
Thus fueled, Erin and I finished our stem-sticking in only 30 minutes.
Had we not been eating cookies (and gossiping), we could have knocked this project out in only 15 minutes.
I placed the trees at each end of the dining room sideboard.
More fun — decorating the trees. Here, the possibilities are endless.
You could, for instance, attach cinnamon sticks to wooden skewers, and insert them into the floral foam.
You could insert little pine cones, too.
As do gold-beaded garlands and miniature “Christmas balls.”
Would you like meet to see the nature-themed components I chose for my boxwood beauties?
Say “hello” to this goldfinch…
And this sparkly-winged subject…
And this copper-toned bird with luxurious plumage.
Of course, every nature-themed tree deserves a wide-eyed frog…
And a bird’s nest, complete with an over-sized Robin’s egg.
For winter-perfume, I inserted lots of cinnamon sticks among the greenery.
How long will boxwood trees last? In a cool room (not more than 65°F), they can last for weeks and weeks, provided the floral foam is kept moist. The greens will stay fresh-looking in a hot room, too, if you spray them first with anti-transpirant (“Wilt-Pruf”).
Well. I hope you feel inspired to create your own boxwood tree. It’s a rewarding project to do!
Need more holiday ideas? Try these:
Holiday Mantel Magic
O Christmas Tree!
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Dreamy Cinnamon Rolls
Tuscan Perfection: Panna Cotta
You just sparked a nice creative streak in me! After I’m done making Mousakka, and doing laundry, I’m heading outside to get some pretty branches….maybe holly, then make some sort of prettiness bc I’m not putting up a big tree this year.
Christine F says
Erin Brady says
I had so much fun! And they came out great!!
On a side note, I purchased a box of those delicious ritz chocolate crackers at our local grocery store this morning… You got me hooked!
Hope you have a wonderful birthday friend! Xoxo
Gay Sullivan says
Oh Kevin, thank you so much for this great project. My box woods are still babies , so I will try this with another evergreen.
Brenda Johnson says
Kevin and Erin,
Those arrangements came out beautiful! The colorful birds, pinecones and cinnamon, beading and that nest with egg in it added so much. Thanks for sharing this with us and I eat the whole wheat Ritz often with port wine cheese spread..will look for those when I go to grocery store again. I was cleaning up chocolate up from my dining room carpet at 2 am this morning. One of us must have dropped it and didn’t realize it and stepped on it. Resolve carpet cleaner to the rescue..Forunately it came out. I’m like you, I would have expected the salty taste of the Ritz cracker, not the flavor you rec’d.
Claudia S says
Love how you decorated them!
Thanks for making me laugh (again). The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I can see that you got your zany humor from mom. She sounds like a fun lady.
I’ve been entranced by your posts for ages, and am recalling the “boxwood propagating with stem cuttings” article. Would the boxwood cuttings in this project develop roots in the oasis? Please say yes, please say yes! How awesome would it be to make this holiday decoration and then have multiple baby boxwoods for planting outside in the spring? Exponentially awesome, that’s how awesome.
How lovely, and I love the scent of boxwoods. Something old and romantic about them. Happy Bday!
OR Suz says
Florist tip- hammer the ends of the fibrous stems (vs. just a sharp. straight cut) before inserting them into the foam. This enables them to soak up more water and last longer.
Lovely Kevin, thanks for the tutorial! (Great tip OR Suz, thanks for that too!).
Recommended your blog this morning to folks on another blog I subscribe to, think you might enjoy her house and whacky humor as well.
Great idea! I will have to try this!
Karyn Clark says
Kevin, I have made a holiday treat with Ritz crackers for years. I only do it at Christmas, because I can’t stop eating them.. I put creamy peanut butter between 2 crackers and dip into white chocolate. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drain, then place on waxed paper to set up. These are great little treats!!
Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says
Having the mirror behind the arrangements doubles their value! I have the same lucky set up in my powder room where I place my own garden flower arrangements throughout the warm months. It’s lovely to see the reflections and admire the backs of the bouquets as well as the fronts.
Your projects are really festive! I love how you share so many good ideas.
What a great idea – no pine needles to clear up til Easter time!!
Susan Nebrick says
Gotta try this! Not wanting to do a big tree & all the stuff that goes with it- 🙂
and just looking at your cinnamon buns photo’s added 5 pounds! Totally worth it!
Mary Ellen Hern says
Kevin, can you recommend where to get fresh-ish boxwood springs? Thank you very much. My family won’t let me do a real tree so this would be a great addition for my home. THANKS!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Mary Ellen – In my area (which, as I recall, is also your area!), boxwood trimmings can be found at Crazy Daisy (Main Street, Valatie), and The Berry Farm (between Kinderhook and Chatham on Route 203).
cynthia turpin-friday says
As a senior I like the idea of not having to store a Christmas tree and I think i can use pine branches instead to gave the house that nice sell.
Good thing you have a Victorian house, because you’d never get away with any of this otherwise. You’re amazing! Everything always looks wonderful.
Very pretty arrangement and as always your easy to follow instructions are always appreciated.
Comme toujours merci.
Samantha Gray says
Love these! I have lots of ilex opaca and other evergreens (and the boxwood) around my home and I’m going to do a couple of these trees for the front porch. Thank you so much, Kevin.
Georgia Fuentes says
Love the Boxwood Christmas Tree.
Gale Dickert says
Love your great ideas –and thanks for the inspiration!! I have boxwoods that need a trim!
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Keep the lovely ideas flowing.
As always you inspire. I’m out to prune my overgrown boxwood for indoor trees and especially a garland necklace for my handsome 2′ 6 point buck found years ago after Christmas at the local garden center. He was damaged in that one of his antlers comes off (and on) making it possible for his garland to slip on. Merry Christmas, Kevin.