Flower designer Kate Formichella is known for making bouquets and installations that are naturally beautiful. She uses local flowers and plants, mostly from her own flower farm in Orleans. She also forages — an act she takes seriously because, she says, it’s got to be done responsibly.
Kate adheres to the less-than-10-percent rule: removing just a small percentage of growth when harvesting. “To forage sustainably,” she says, “do not strip any tree or shrub of all its prime.” And she never removes plants — even fallen ones — from conservation or National Park lands.
At this time of year, Kate’s work moves from bouquets for weddings and outdoor parties to garlands, pots, and planters that play up the color and life the winter landscape offers.
Do you have a window box of mums? It’s time to pop them out and replace them with fresh greens for the holidays. You’ll push cut stems directly into the soil, and don’t forget to water them — your arrangements will last well into winter if you keep the soil watered to hydrate the greens. You can also keep them looking fresh by removing and replacing the occasional exhausted bough as the season progresses.
Collect your cuttings. If you don’t have a yard, this might be an opportunity to offer a friendly neighbor some pruning in return for their greenery. Sharp loppers and pruners are key for this project. While collecting branches and greens, keep them in the shade and, if possible, in buckets of water.
Include varied textures. Eastern red cedar, which is actually a juniper, offers beautiful contrast to the deeper greens found in pitch pine, while the wispy branches of white pine can soften the arrangement. The long, arching branches of Leyland cypress bring natural movement and scale. American holly adds texture and depth.
Next, look for a few extras that will bring in a pop of color: twisted willow, red twig dogwood, winterberry.
When it comes to designing the arrangement, Kate offers some tips: Once you begin filling in your pot or planter with greens, make sure to walk around and check it from all views. Start with the greens, holding back on the colorful extras to add in last. Nix the red bows — just as with red mulch in landscaping, that becomes all the eye sees. Nature will speak beautifully when you keep the composition about the various greens, the structure of winter branches, and the color the extras provide.