A tisket, a tasket, a chicken basket….

A country wedding, a farmer’s market theme, held on a beautiful farm – what fun to put flowers and vegetables together.  In what??? That’s the question.  Round tables of ten, many round tables of ten…and a obdurate caterer who wanted everything on the table from the get go – bread service, cups, saucers, Sweet-n-Lo, cream, resulting in a terse “your centerpiece shouldn’t be more than 12” wide!

How about chicken wire – very farm, yes? – baskets and various combinations of vegetables and flowers.  Above are three:  Left: eggplant/tomato/long green peppers/rex begonia leaves/purple scabiosa; Middle: radicchio/purple onions/ pink potatoes/ celadon cabbage/feverfew/ purple verbena; Right: savoy cabbage/ purple kale/ribbon grass/zinnias/brussel sprouts.

Trouble is you have to make the basket.  After some false starts, I made a plan. It was time consuming, but easy.  This was before Google. Taking a look now, there are various tutorials for complicated basket making and many suppliers of baskets ranging from $8 to $75+.  Nothing like this “one-piece-wonder-for-pennies“…..

First the chix wire.  Obviously the chickens have felt persecuted as it now is called poultry netting! It comes in rolls in various widths – 24” to 48”.  Using a 24”  roll, cut the width in half, lengthwise.  There is a handy wire down the center – cut along it.  This basket (roughly 13” D by 23” H handle) requires a 5-6’ length x 12” wide.

It is really a fold, crimp, bend and then fold over the handle and attach.  We are going for insouciance here rather than perfection!  The wire is very forgiving and the little ends – though ouch! – bend around and hold the whole thing.  I wanted all the handles to be slightly twisted and bent differently, so they are squashed and manipulated.   Easier to actually do than to explain or draw.

Best is, you can see right through it.  However, that very quality makes it hard to see in a photograph.

After the wedding, the baskets came back to me and they have been used often in many colors, up and down the East Coast.  At a Rare Plant Auction donor luncheon at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, the theme encompassed the spring flowers that were blooming outside in the gardens and woodland.  The staff brought us armloads of them to make the centerpieces.

A rehearsal dinner with a Spanish theme used black baskets with bright carnations and black fans.

The copper color is my favorite finish.  Design Master makes the best spray paint for this kind of project.  This basket holds the fruits of this season – ornamental gourds – plus some flowers from another design.  They are tucked into a glass spice jar filled with water and nestled between the gourds.  Curving bear grass echoes the shape of the basket.

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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