Add the Johnson grass, which grows all along the roadside, and then unripened viburnum berries to give a hint of green. Now the cloud is really full; when you get to the point where you can’t push anything else in, you know you’re almost finished. All that’s left now are the dried nigella pods. Don’t bunch them together like the others—each should stand out individually—and drop them in wherever you think they look best.
Look for gaps in the cloud, and reintroduce velvety texture with the kangaroo paw. Then include the astrantia, which resembles baby Queen Anne’s lace but with multiple blooms on each stem. The flowers are small, so place a few stems together. Do the same thing with the little pink santini chrysanthemums to brighten up the arrangement. Then add the scabiosa pods, which feel papery. Cluster these together, using multiple stems as one.
We’re ready for the cocoa Queen Anne’s lace, my favorite of our materials. The striations remind me a little of dupioni silk, and when massed together, they look like a cloud, which I love. Take off the lower foliage, cut the stems, and stick them in the center and all around until you have a big fluff. Shorter pieces go around the edge, and taller ones, in the middle. Place them at various levels, because it adds to the cloudlike effect if some are a little lower. Fill in as much as you can.
Now it’s time to include the olive branches and the smoke bush. Sometimes olive branches can be a tangled mess—and if so, just shake them out. The wild pieces are good, though, because the arrangement should not look too perfect. Strip the lower leaves, cut the stems, and add them to the arrangement around the circumference. Then put in the smoke bush, some of which can go in the middle, but also place a few in the collar of dusty miller. It’s a bit taller than the other materials, and that’s OK. Remember that the layers should mingle with each other; you don’t want each to be a definitive line. Seeing the elements mixed shows you that the textures play well together.
Next add the Japanese maple foliage, which is fuzzy and fluffy. With this and the other materials, be sure to remove all leaves that will be under the water level, because they will rot and cause bacteria, shortening the lifespan of your arrangement. After cutting the bottom of the stems, position them in and over the collar of dusty miller all the way around.
Materials & Tools: dusty miller, cocoa Queen Anne’s lace, smoke bush, scabies pods, Japanese maple foliage, santini chrysanthemums, dried nigella pods, olive branches, kangaroo paw, Johnson grass, viburnum berries, astrantia, jardinière, garbage bag, duct tape, Styrofoam, papier-mâché liner, and chicken wire
Produced by Abby Braswell
Photography by Becky Luigart-Stayner