With the holidays fast approaching, you may be feeling the overpowering urge to transform your home into a Hallmark movie set. To get that classic look on a budget, we tapped Sue Dodd, floral manager at The Watering Can Flower Market in Vineland, Ont., for tips on how to make a festive urn.
For this project, Dodd sourced affordable, grown-in-Canada greenery, branches and decorative touches to make a statement piece that will last throughout December and beyond. “If you’re in a region that gets cold winters, your arrangement can last up to three months,” she explains. Use whatever greenery and accents you can find at your local florist or supermarket or even in your backyard. “There is really no right or wrong way to do this,” says Dodd.
- Pedestal urn or other decorative container
- Plastic pail (optional)
- Floral foam (or an eco-friendlier alternative, such as soil, gravel or compact moss)
- Greenery, branches, berries and ornaments of your choice
Step 1: Pick your greens
As a rule, Dodd recommends layering four or five types of greenery to create depth and texture. For this project, we used rosehip branches, Carolina sapphire, cedar, silver fir, pine, magnolia, boxwood, grey seeded eucalyptus and pine cones. Always trim your greens at the base, according to the size of your container and their placement in the arrangement.
Pro tip Freshly cut each stem before using it. “Cutting allows water to go up the branch,” explains Dodd. You also want to cut off any offshoots from the portion that will be inserted into the foam.
Step 2: Prep your urn
Line the bottom of your urn with floral foam, which you can get from your local florist or the dollar store. “You can cut foam at an angle, so it fits in snuggly,” says Dodd. “If it moves, it’s not tight enough.” For an eco-friendlier alternative, use soil, gravel or compact moss.
Pro tip Instead of making your arrangement directly in the urn, use a plastic pail that fits inside it, making cleanup easier.
Step 3: Build height
Larger components, like branches, should be placed first and in the centre. Dodd used rosehip branches and a few stems of Carolina sapphire, but dogwood, curly willow and birch are also popular choices.
Pro tip Once you insert something into the foam, don’t pull it out. Too many holes can cause the foam to break.
Step 4: Create drama
To fill out the base, pick greens that have a nice drape. Dodd used cedar first, topped with a layer of upside-down silver fir. “The underside of the fir has a grey hue, and it provides a nice contrast,” she says.
Pro tip Dodd recommends cutting cedar to a length of 45 centimetres and silver fir to 35 centimetres.
Step 5: Fill in the gaps
Dodd used pine to fill in the space between the centre arrangement of rosehip branches and Caroline sapphire and the base layer of cedar and silver fir. “It’s inexpensive and adds yet another texture,” she notes.
Pro tip Cut the pine to a length of 30 centimetres. (Remember to account for the size of your container.)
Step 6: Add finishing touches
Once the greenery is in place, fill in any holes that remain in the arrangement. Dodd opted for magnolia, boxwood and grey seeded eucalyptus, as well as pine cones for a playful nod to the season.
Pro tip Wrap a piece of wire around the base of each pine cone, then around a branch that can be placed into the foam.
Water the base every two to three days until the temperature drops below zero; after that, the greenery will absorb moisture through the air.