Holiday centerpieces add interest to the season

Arrange a variety of flowers and add a bit of Thanksgiving whimsy. COURTESY KARFRE.FILES.WORDPRESS.COM
November 21, 2012

The center of any holiday is the home, and the center of the home is the dinner table. Therefore, the center of the center, as it were, is what else but a centerpiece. The garden lends itself to centerpieces. For a traditional look, try homegrown gourds, pumpkins and squash on the table. You can pick your own flowers, or if your garden is really too far gone, perhaps some interesting branches and seedpods.

Best of all is to bring the living garden indoors with a living potted plant centerpiece. Chrysanthemums or mums are often used for fall decoration and make easy centerpieces. Just put a coaster down and set the mum, pot and all, at the table. Later the mums can be moved around the house or planted right out in the garden. You can go fancy and set the potted mum inside a slightly larger, more decorative pot. This eliminates the mess of water dripping out of the drainage hole onto the table.

Besides mums try flowering orchids - the cymbidiums are the easiest, though any blooming orchid will do. Potted African violets will add colorful blooms. Sometimes foliage alone is a welcome sight on a table when all of the outdoors seems dead and grey. Potted ferns will add a Victorian air of elegance to your table. Try pots of coleus with their wide variety of leaf shapes and colors.

You can also use pots of herbs such as basil, rosemary or mint. Herbs have the added bonus of refreshing fragrance. Rosemary is often sold as potted miniature Christmas trees. For variety, try a single large pot encircled by smaller pots, or skip the large pot and use a cluster of small potted plants. Both will look equally pleasing. Try staggering the pots on various heights by setting them on bricks covered with paper or cloth, or even set them on upside-down empty flowerpots.

You can stick with natural terra cotta pots or paint the pots to match the colors of your room or table settings.

A more finished look might mean matching or contrasting satin ribbon tied around the rim of the pot. Try a large bow in browns or pale blues for autumn or traditional red or green for Christmas.

Once you have your pots ready, you can really have fun. Let kids add toy soldiers, small dolls or fancy stones. Go insane and string decorative lights around the base of the pots and even up around the pot rims.

Small potted herbs and flowers make nice giveaways when the party is over. If you are going to keep your potted centerpiece for yourself, you might choose a single larger plant, which will mean less maintenance.

Keep in mind that any indoor plant will need watering, especially once your heating system kicks on and the indoor air becomes dry. Water potted plants whenever the soil surface is dry, but do not waterlog the plants. Feed them lightly with a good organic liquid fertilizer at half strength.

Potted plants emit oxygen and add needed humidity to the air, making your home more comfortable and healthier. They also soothe guests and add visual interest. With potted plants, an oxygen-rich, uplifting, healthy home just might be the centerpiece of all your holidays.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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