At Christmastime, the halls and homes of Merrie Old England would be decked out in greens, berried branches of holly, and mistletoe gathered from the crotch of a tree, each representing an aspect of the Yuletide. This was because evergreens, including boxwood, remained a vibrant green while the outside world seemed lifeless.
Trees, barren of leaves, raised their arms to the heavens in stark contrast to the crisp, blue skies and gray clouds filled with snow. No flowers brightened the days as cold crept into every nook and cranny. Is it any wonder that most evergreens—pine, ivy, and the beloved ornamental boxwood among them—stand for constancy in the language of flowers? They never died, or so it seemed. They were ever present and ever green.
The beauty of boxwood goes far beyond neatly trimmed hedges and intricate mazes. With staying power that lasts through the holidays and beyond, the boxwood wreath, kissing ball, and table tree create the ideal setting for a beautiful Christmas.
Tools and materials
- 1 box-wreath frame (a flat frame can be used, but will result in a flat wreath)
- 22-gauge paddle wire
- Clippers or a sharp knife
- Green pipe cleaner
- Fresh boxwood
Trim stems of boxwood into 5–6-inch sprigs. Fill the concave wreath frame with less desirable branches, but make sure there's a thick base of boxwood. Begin wrapping the paddle wire around the frame, keeping the boxwood securely in place. Do not cut the wire after the frame is completely covered.
With the wreath lying flat on a table, gather 3–5 nicely formed stems into your hand and place them on the top of the wreath. Wire the bunch to the wreath, but do not cut the wire.
Place the next bundle of boxwood so that the leafy top covers the woody stems, wire in place. Continue placing bunches of sprigs all going in the same direction until the wreath frame is covered. The closer you place each bundle of boxwood to the previous one, the fuller your wreath will be. The stems of the last bunch should go beneath the tops of the first bundle.
Cut the wire from the paddle, leaving a tail, and weave it around the wires.
Fill in the outside and center by gathering the boxwood stems and inserting them under the existing wires. Use the same method of covering the previous bunch's stems with the tops of the next one. By inserting the stems under the wire, you make the entire wreath tighter.
When the wreath is finished, it should have a swirling look as the boxwood encircles the frame. Loop the green pipe cleaner through the frame and wires to make a hanger and twist it tight.
Use your imagination to decorate your wreath. You can add stems of holly and berries, Christmas balls, baby's breath for a wisp of white, small apples, ornaments, or just a big jaunty bow. Every stem you insert from this point will cascade down, giving the look of a perfectly shaped, tiny, evergreen tree. Hang it on an outside door or inside. If you use your wreath indoors, spritz it with water to keep it looking fresh all through the holidays.
Tools and materials
- Floral foam soaked in water overnight or for at least several hours
- Floral pins
- Floral picks or toothpicks
- A tray to hold the tree
Place wet, floral foam on the tray and use a sharp knife to whittle it into a cone. (You can use plastic foam, but it will provide greater resistance when you're inserting stems and won't hold water.)
Choose a perfect stem of boxwood and cut it to a length of 3–4 inches. Insert the stem into the tip-top of the foam. This is the all-important point, or tip, of your tree.
You can work from the top or bottom. Cut sprigs of boxwood and insert them into the foam. If the cone you've made does not flare out at the bottom, the lower areas will require longer stems of boxwood. Keep eyeing your tree to give it the desired Christmas-tree shape.
When the foam is completely covered and resembles a miniature tree, it's time to decorate it. You don't have to put anything on the little tree, and, in fact, a tablescape of 3–5 trees of varying sizes set on a blanket of white creates a charming winter scene.
If you do wish to decorate it, try one of these ideas: place cranberries on toothpicks and insert them as you would tiny Christmas balls. Narrow ribbon bows or streamers give the tree a darling appearance, as does baby's breath inserted to resemble either white garland or a wispy, white veil over the entire tree.
Sugar tiny fruits, like grapes and cranberries, and insert them with a floral pick or toothpick to give a subtle shine and muted color to the tree. Let your imagination fly, and you'll come up with great ideas to decorate your boxwood tree.
Boxwood Kissing Ball
Tools and materials
- Half a block of floral foam soaked in water
- Chicken wire
- 22-gauge wire
- 4–?5-inch sprigs of boxwood
- Small sprigs of mistletoe
Wrap chicken wire around the floral foam, creating a cage. If there's an overlap, use wire to hold it together. Bend one end of a 10–12-inch wire and then thread it through the center from the bottom to the top. The bend, or "U" shape, should catch on the foam. Make a hook or loop at the top for a hanger.
Cut sprigs of boxwood, 4–5 inches long. Insert the stems to form a ball. Cover the foam completely.
Add a bow at the top and streamers at the bottom of the ball. Insert mistletoe wired to a pick at the bottom. Leave the ball as it is or decorate it with cranberries, grapes, tiny Christmas balls, flowers, or whatever captures your fancy. May you meet the one you love beneath the kissing ball!
The holidays seem more charming when fresh botanicals are used to craft stunning decorations. Each creation is individual; no two people are going to make identical wreaths of boxwood. The pleasure of hanging a wreath that you made yourself on the front door makes the holidays merrier and brighter, so get busy and have a joyful, boxwood Christmas!