I don’t know about you, but there’s just something special about fresh greens during the holiday season. Having a beautiful and festive planter by the front door to welcome guests or a stunning evergreen centerpiece for those family meals simply elevates your holiday decor. And, you can do it yourself thanks to my friends at Esme Floral Bar and Eline’s Floral.

A fun and festive evening out with friends

I recently attended one of their Christmas planter workshops and it was so fun – what a wonderful evening out! I was feeling a little intimidated at first when I saw a big pile of evergreens and twigs on the floor staring up at me. What am I going to do with those, I thought! I don’t consider myself super crafty…well, crafty at all really, but our instructor guided us along with just the right amount of advice while still allowing us to work independently.

women decorating with holiday greens

You’re guaranteed to go home with something beautiful

Eline Ulrich is a floral design instructor at Mount Royal College so she knows a thing or two about teaching newbies. She and her former student, Angela at Esme Floral Bar, are working together to offer workshops to the public this holiday season.

Originally from Holland, Eline has a wonderful accent and a real knack for putting together gorgeous natural arrangements that are a bit wild and unstructured, yet still have a beautiful well-balanced shape.  I think that’s where most of us in the class struggled.

We knew there was something not quite right with our arrangement, and then Eline would come over and just re-arrange a few branches…and voila…perfect.  A great piece of advice from Eline is: what you do to one side, you must do to the other. Don’t worry, she says she won’t let you go home with something that looks awful.

All of the greens used are fresh and most of them were shipped in from B.C. including the Douglas fir, pine and cedar branches. We also used dogwood from Kananaskis, as well as salal, huckleberry twigs, Oregonia, hemlock, magnolia, pine cones, natural and red-painted eucalyptus. The eucalyptus is from California and I could smell that stuff all day!!

close up shot of cedar, magnolia and oregonia and hemlock

Start with the base, and then layer in all of the different colors and textures

We started with the dogwood twigs as the base and then added in all of the different components. We saved the decorative stuff for the end and placed them right in the middle of the arrangement. A neat trick she taught us is to wrap a floral wire around the pine cone and then attach the wire to a twig. Then, you shove the twig into the green floral sponge so you don’t have to worry about it blowing away during a fierce Chinook or winter wind.

pine cone and floral wire

Look how dirty my hands are.

Some people added battery-powered lights so it shows up at night, which I thought was a great idea. You can also add Christmas balls and other sparkly twigs if you wish, but I plan to just leave mine au naturel. I’m all about keeping things simple these days.

In just a little over an hour, we were done.

floral greens

This is my planter…not bad, I’d say!

Everyone was pleased with their arrangement and we remarked at how different they were, even though we all used the same stuff. We were pretty proud of ourselves and like Eline says, if somebody compliments your arrangement over the holidays, you get to say, “I made that!”

Book now for upcoming workshops

The planters are quite heavy because there are rocks in the bottom, and we were instructed to water them periodically to help them last longer. They will dry out especially if it’s windy or the weather warms up. Eline says when she’s shoveling snow, she throws it on her arrangements so that when a Chinook rolls through and the snow melts, the watering is done.

Esme is hosting a number of workshops over the next few weeks at Our Daily Brett on 14th St. and Velo Cafe on 17th Avenue. You can make your own holiday planters, swags, centerpieces and Grinch trees. You don’t need to bring anything – everything is provided, even the pot.  It’s a fun night out with friends and you can even enjoy a beverage while you work.

Eline’s Floral is also holding day and evening classes; you can contact her directly to book your spot at eline.ulrich@gmail.com or text 403-560-3811.

Thanks to Esme and Eline for partnering on this post. It was such a lovely evening and a really great way to kick off my holiday decorating.


Author Michelle

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