Counting the days….

Country Life Cover Advent calendarNo one is ever too old to count the days until Christmas. Advent calendars are everywhere, taking all kinds of theme and forms. “COUNTRY LIFE”, a weekly British publication, is my panacea for not being able to travel to Britain as often as I would wish. Each year it’s Christmas Special issue has an advent calendar cover. Inside each door is a little drawing and a message.

c Martha Stewart Living

c Martha Stewart Living

Over at “Martha Stewart Living”, advent calendar elves have made a tree of advent envelopes in bright red paper, which are perhaps full of 21C gift cards from iTunes, and Starbucks.

Doggy Advent calendarDogs seem to be remembered with dog bone advent calendars….I guess a dog biscuit is put in each slot????

Beer Lovers Advent CalendarThe Bride made this imaginative Beer Lovers Advent Calendar for The Groom – what a lucky guy!!

British House Advent calendarCottages advent calendarThese little British house like boxes could hold all manner of treats for the 24 day count-down.

Silver Advent CalendarRegular readers might remember the silver Advent Calendar from flowerflinging in 2012. I was surprised to find it in the basement storage and decided to give it a completely new look.

Nature's Advent CalendarLiquitex makes a new (to me at least) artist colors spray paint – very saturated colors and wonderful coverage, and NO SMELL as it is water base paint!! Perfect for cold weather…when it has to be done indoors. This color is….really a deep dark red. I took off all the cans, and sprayed everything separately. The whole construction is in the Archives: “the Holly and the Ivy Advent Calendar” Nov 27, 2012. Here is week one: Juniper, Lirope, Golden Cypress, dog’s bane, dried Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Artemesia, blue Spruce, and magnolia buds.

Advent Calendar almost ChristmasThe numbers were redone with a bottle of red glitter glue with a pointed applicator over the previous copper numbers. It didn’t come out easily so some numbers got rather blotchy. Luckily once the plant material gets in, the numbers don’t show much. Depending on the material, the can does or doesn’t have water in it. Added are: coffee tree pods, fresh green hydrangea, carnations, alstromeria, arbor vitae, pine cones both on a their stem, and tiny ones cascading on a wire. To come: roses, red hypericum, pine, dusty miller, sumac pods, anemones, hemlock and balsam, Kermit mums, teasel, and Royal Fern seed scapes.

 German Village Open DoorsThe most petite advent calendar is found on this European Christmas card. If you are looking at this on a laptop, it might be life size. The unique part of this adorable village is each of the “doors” is a different shape and the image fits right in the scene. Check out the church doors, top middle, and the sleigh below it, and which others can you see?


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Looking like a New York Christmas…

Sumptous flower boxThis beautiful planter outside a NYC home is filled with the greenery of the season and accented with branches of bright red ilex berries.   I suspect much of the plantings are there in all the seasons.

 Elegant neighborsElegant neighbors along on of my favorite upper east side blocks. This is clearly not the DIY decorations that happen at my house. If you are lucky enough to live in these houses, your ‘people’ do the decorating, right?

Christmas Cardinals at AnthropologieA few blocks away, the folks at Anthropolgie have created a charming Christmas window with birds of a feather on stylized birch like branches.

Cardinals have their close upThese were made right at the store which is in an old (basement level) movie theater space. In fact, I saw “Gosford Park” in that theater! The display team comes in several times a year to do the displays which I always make a point to see and am never disappointed.

Anthropologie Hand-made metal sreamersGarlands or streamers were made from wire and feather shaped pieces of metal, along with cones and pods. They were hung from parallel white painted branches and formed a shimmering screen.

Anthropologie Feather trimmed treeA large (artificial) tree was trimmed with lights and large goose feathers, hung like ornaments. These were all white, but wouldn’t they be pretty if they were painted or dyed all sorts of brilliant colors?

Anthropologie pine conesInside the main door, mannequins stood among these huge pine cones, – again hand made from metallic paper/cardboard pieces. Lots of clever imagination at work at Anthropologie.

 Armory Birch monolithThe sumptuous spaces at the Park Avenue Armory have been transformed with huge birch bark monoliths, encircled with robust garlands of magnolia. Mixed garlands of magnolia, huge pine cones and other pods, highlighted with birch bark play off the magnificent paneling of the architectural details.

Cartier Lights BowDoes anyone remember the old Cartier classical building with its’ red holiday ribbon wrapping the building with a big red bow? About 5 or 6 years ago, it became a huge red ribbon of LED lights. Now Cartier has moved to the GM building and this red bow is the latest incarnation. Maybe its time for a new idea?


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Wreathed in greenery

Rose angel in a wreathThe first week of December always finds the talented ‘wreath elves’ of the Berkshire Botanical Garden hard at work on creations for the BBG Holiday Marketplace, held on the first weekend of December. This adorable, insouciant rose angel was the signature ornament this year. Made from a dried white rose, skeletonized leaves, boxwood, and an acorn, it will last long after the wreath has disappeared.

Berkshire Botanical Garden  wreath elves at workThe best workshops always know how to set things up. Easel-backed boards are complete with hook for hanging wreaths in progress.  It is a pleasure to come and work in such beautifully organized surroundings.

Wreath ingredientsTables around the room hold ribbons, trimmings, pods, berries, various evergreens, beautiful (felled by storm-damage) budded branches of magnolia and plus colored branches of cornus. Candyland for designers!!

 BBG MarketplaceIn a tent adjacent to the room, cast off windows, shutters and doors become the staging for the creations.

The Editor's wreath with maple leavesGolden wreath with applesGolden Hops and ribbons wreathLarge 16″ wreaths like these call out for elaborate creations filled with the bounty of the season.  It is fun to see the endless imagination at work to put them together.  Each wreath has a tag with the designer’s name.  I hope we don’t have to make house calls to repair them!

Wreath with a Silver BowWreath with a silver bow and holiday greensA 12” wreath goes from simple to complex using hemlock cones, ilex berries, incense cedar, holly and juniper.

The Editor's scarlet ribbon wreathThe Editor’s imaginative use of scarlet ribbon, birch bark and pinecones and dried maple leaves on the branch and scarlet yarrow makes a striking wreath.

Square Wreath on a Star ShutterSquare boxwood wreaths were also transformed. Golden hops, freeze-dried and scored limes and another layer of interesting greens transform the basic square. It looks particularly charming on the shutter with its’ star cut-out.

 Traditional Square WreathSimplicity itself is compelling in this more traditional elegant square with white berry clusters, silvery eucalyptus and silvery ribbon.

Square Wreath on EdgeTurning the idea on its edge, this boxwood wreath is full of ilex, juniper, holly, pine cones and eucalyptus, wound through with an open-work gold ribbon from Michael’s Crafts.

BBG holiday saleBy the time you read this, everything will have been sold to foster the wonderful programs and gardens at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.  Kudos to the BBG!


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