Pick a holiday

Then celebrate it with a bouquet you make yourself after browsing your yard for flowers and foliage that evoke its special spirit.

By Yvonne Swanson, Special to the Times
Published December 1, 2007

No matter which celebration you honor during the holidays, you don't have to look much farther than your own back yard for plants and natural materials to create floral arrangements that capture the season's spirit. Add a special touch or two from the grocery produce and floral departments or craft store, and you'll have a one-of-a-kind creation.

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins at sundown Tuesday and continues for eight nights. The traditional colors of this Jewish celebration are blue and white, and decorative symbols include the menorah, which holds candles that are lighted each night, bright foil-wrapped chocolate coins and colorful toy dreidels. Many plants bloom in shades of blue and white, including blue salvia, plumbago (blue and white varieties) and white geraniums.

The traditional colors of Christmas are red and green, but a wide range of colors and combinations, among them white, silver, gold and blue, are used to celebrate the Christian holiday on Dec. 25. Bright red salvia, geranium, crown of thorns and bromeliad are good choices, along with just about any greens from the yard. Berries, pine cones, fruits and nuts can add visual interest.

The African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, is marked by poetry, dancing, singing, drumming, feasting and lighting candles in the Kinara candle-holder. Colors associated with the cultural holiday are black, green and red. Many plants that thrive in our area are native to Africa, including bird of paradise, crown of thorns, bleeding heart vine, snake plant (also called mother-in-law's tongue), aloe and many varieties of palm.

National master flower show judge Jan Stoffels of St. Petersburg designed an arrangement for each holiday using mostly plants grown in her own yard. You can create your own floral display for your special holiday.

Yvonne Swanson is a St. Petersburg freelance writer and a master gardener for Pinellas County.


A present bursting with fresh greens and flowers, this festive arrangement can decorate the dining table, buffet or foyer table.

You'll need:

- Holiday gift bag or gift box wrapped with paper (we used a red acrylic box here); leak-proof liner (plastic tub, bowl, etc.) with floral foam inside.

- Ribbon.

- Plants: ferns, bromeliad blooms, white carnations.


- If using box, wrap with holiday paper and glue or tape ribbon to sides.

- Soak floral foam in water; place in leak-proof liner and insert into container.

- Insert tips of plant cuttings into floral foam; arrange as desired.


Use plants of your choice in preferred holiday colors.


This festive arrangement features individually wrapped plant cuttings your guests can take home as gifts.

You'll need:

- Silver napkin holder lined with shredded blue foil and adorned with silver bow.

- Eight plants to represent the eight nights of the holiday: plumbago, blue-green succulents, blue-green snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue).

- Eight small pieces of aluminum foil.

- Potting soil.

- Foil-wrapped chocolate coins or plastic coins (we hot-glued plastic coins to floral picks; you could tape chocolate coins to picks).


- Line napkin holder with shredded blue foil.

- Place a dollop of moist potting soil on small piece of aluminum foil and fold into cup shape; insert tip of plant cutting. Repeat for each plant.

- Arrange foil-wrapped plant cuttings in napkin holder.

- Add coins.


Use a small blue-and-white gift bag or a wrapped box with a leak-proof liner. Use plants of your choice in shades of blue, white and blue-green.


This joyful display combines lush plants with a filled container that resembles African fabric.

You'll need:

- Glass container.

- Acorns and acorn caps, dried chick peas, dried green peas.

- Floral foam (cut to shape of container and placed in clear plastic bag).

- Plants: variegated snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue), ornamental banana blossom with immature fruit, anthurium, kalanchoe, euphorbia, top-trimmed lady palm (sprayed bronze, if desired), variegated schefflera.

- Exotic pods.


- De-bug acorns by placing them on baking sheet and bake on lowest oven temperature for one hour.

- Fill container with layers of acorns, dried chick peas, acorn caps and dried green peas.

- Soak florist foam in water, place in leak-proof plastic bag and position on top layer in container. Depending on the kind of container you use, this arrangement may be top-heavy, so work with care.

- Insert cut tips of plants into foam, using floral picks and wire as needed.


Use a small black, green and red gift bag or wrapped box with a leak-proof liner. Use colorful plants and/or fruits of your choice in traditional Kwanzaa colors.