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Living holiday tillandsia tree


Last updated 12/18/2017 at Noon

An organic arrangement of birch, berries, twigs, seed pods, tillandsia and ivy continues the woodland holiday theme. Roger Boddaert photo

‘Tis the season to adorn homes and gardens with berries, bows and greens.

December is the month when the traditional Tannenbaum tree, poinsettias and garlands festoon homes both inside and out.

But as a landscape horticulturist and designer, I am always on the lookout to create something that is unique, stylish and outside of the box each year.

This year I have created a living tillandsia holiday tree using canary island pine cones and white birch branches.

I started by constructing a metal conical rebar shaped frame as my base and completely wrapped it around with chicken wire which has large holes. Next, I plugged the openings with growing tillandsia or air-plants, which are the craze these days. I poked several species of these air plants into the frame work along with gray hanging Spanish moss to give a bit of whimsy and a forest look.

I also grow potted white flowering haemanthus bulbs, which are in bloom from November through December, and I placed them around the base of the tillandsia tree.

This haemanthus is called the “paint brush” haemanthus for its shape which resembles the thistle-like fibers of a paint brush. This tender bulb is best grown in dappled light, and I plant them in the shady areas of my garden under the trees. I also placed winter flowering cyclamen plants in between the haemanthus for an added punch of color in pink, red, magenta and violet to give my holiday creation a real zing.

There is such an abundance of alternative flowering plants to adorn your holiday decor around your landscape at this time of year including a white flowering azalea named “Alaska,” which blooms again in springtime. One of my favorite early flowering red flowers in the garden is the camellia “Yuletide,” which, you guessed it, blooms around Christmas.

I am a traditionalist at heart, but I always like to explore something a little bit different to give new looks and feelings to the holidays both inside the home and out in the garden for decor and a “ho ho ho.”

The early beginnings of the tillandsia holiday tree include canary island pine cones and white birch branches. Roger Boddaert photo

If you want to be the real talk of the party this season, make a cut flower arrangement using proteas, banksia, leucodendrons and grevillea foliage. Some of these yummy cultivars are pink frost protea, sarfari and jester leucodendron, curly pine calathamnus, tea bush leptospermum, banksia cones and “moon light” grevillea. Trim some grape vines or twisted willow from the garden to make it free form and give it a natural organic look.

Try using some old clay pots, galvanized cans or large clear glass cylinders to put the flowers in. Plus, add some organic mosses to enhance a woodland type of theme and by all means have fun. I believe that containers are part of the overall statement in flower arranging, and raffia strands can be used for natural looking hand-tied bows.

Merry Christmas to all my plant loving friends.

Roger Boddaert of Organic Elegance can be reached at (760) 728-4297.


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