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Recycle Your Clippings For the Holidays

Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A

Flowers on 9th Owner demonstrates a duo – one outside, one for inside

I take pride in recycling my wood waste every opportunity I can. Crafting is another way to do this. For years we have been able to deliver cedar to a client to decorate her mantle. By some divine source, someone’s columnar cedar is banging on an eave. With the Chinook wind howling pretty consistently, the thumping triggers a phone call just in time to keep up the tradition. Today was the day. I suppose then, that is no co-incidence that this month’s speaker at the Horticultural Society did a presentation on winter arrangements using ‘bark and burlap’. After feeding the dog and securing him for the night, I headed over to the Library. The room smelled amazing (cedar, pine, spruce and fir).

Making a beautiful seasonal bouquet is a lot easier than you may think. You need:

  1. a water tight container

  2. oasis

  3. water

  4. assorted twigs and boughs

  5. colourful picks of berries (the real ones won’t last)

  6. pine/spruce cones

  7. wire cutters and/or pruners

  8. vines stems – grapes are ideal

These are the steps demonstrated:

  1. Soak your greens ahead to hydrate and rinse off any dust

  2. You begin by cutting the oasis into your container – try to get a good fit

  3. Fill the sink with water and drop in the oasis block. As the block absorbs water it will sink to the bottom so no need to weigh it down. Transfer to your container.

  4. Decide if your display is to be viewed from the front only or from all sides.

  5. Start with your foundation item – it this case, it was a piece of birch bark.

  6. Trim the ends of your woody plants at a 45 degree angle and begin to build your frame. Sometimes it can be symmetrical, triangular. As the speaker put it “let the materials decide”. Some twigs have a natural curve so work with it.

  7. Once the greenery is in place add your twigs

  8. Finishing touches included cones, picks and a burlap bow.

  9. Place outside – remembering to keep the container watered.

  10. With the bits of leftovers, he made a companion container that could be used indoors

  11. Use grape vines to create a wreath and wire on a few bits of greenery.

He suggested using ‘flower fresh’ packets with each watering. It contains materials that provide nutrients, pH adjustments and a fungicide to keep you display looking great longer. Remember to keep your display irrigated. Avoid exposure to wind which dry out the stems and mess up your artistic efforts.

Networking with such seasoned garden enthusiasts is something everyone should do. I faithfully renewed my membership and chatted with people I hadn’t seen for a while. There was a host of goodies and coffee to help celebrate the season. Don’t throw anything away – chop up the boughs to mulch roses or other perennials. Since Oasis can’t be reused for flower arranging, crush up the block and work it into your beds, planters or compost pile – it will continue to hold moisture and is safe in the environment. Happy Recycling.

Looking for inspiration? Here are some great ‘craft plants’ you can find in your own yard or from a friend.

Red Twig Dogwoods

Yellow Twig Dogwoods

Ninebark Stems add texture

Felty texture of Sumac twigs

Sumac fruit dries on the stem


Juniper – colours range from this steel blue to yellow tripped green


Pines offer longer needles


Russian Olive – Bark offers texture, twigs are a purple/brown colour

Nuts – Buckeye, Walnut, Oak or Chestnut – Make your own picks

Pine Cones are usually larger and easier to work with than spruce

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