The art of holiday florals

By Kristy Elik

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when the unmistakable sights and smells of the holiday season are about to assuage our senses. It’s a welcoming tradition to bedeck your home with beautiful floral and plant arrangements — whether living or freshly cut — that will wow your guests and create vibrant, picture-perfect memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

For ideas, tips and advice about bringing nature’s winter bounty into your home, as well as the latest trends in holiday décor, we turned to cutting-edge design expert and master event planner Frank Rea of Frank Rea Designs and Forget Me Not Flowers.

“The world is your oyster when it comes to choosing how to dress up your house,” Rea says. “It very much depends on the kind of ambience you’re trying to achieve.”

Rea knows a thing or two about setting a scene according to industry trends. With 40 years of experience as owner and operator of Oakville’s Forget Me Not Flowers, he’s renowned for his innovation, diversity, cutting edge designs and most of all, his ability to make a client’s vision a reality as his business evolves into event planning and design.

“One trend I’ve noticed this season is that every arrangement is gilded with a little bit of glitter,” Rea remarks. “The colour palettes are vast — there are virtually thousands of choices in addition to the traditional red and green — but with a sprinkle of gold or silver dust, you can add that little extra pop to the glamour of the room.”

Plants make great centrepieces, particularly euro trees like cypress. Embellish them with whimsical tree ornaments or simply with natural elements like pinecones, cinnamon sticks or various twigs. 

Or why not try a monochromatic look, using one focused type of flower in a design along with berries and evergreens? Try some amaryllis or orchids with berries and evergreens. This style of arrangement creates a stunning contrast.

Another creative idea is to incorporate fruits into your arrangements. Combine ordinary ones, like pears and apples, with uncommon kinds, such as pomegranates, persimmons and pineapples. 

Of course, berries and holiday greens remain as popular as ever, says Rea. They’re a staple in holiday arrangements and centerpieces, and especially engaging when used in unique ways and combinations.

“Don’t forget to adorn your bathrooms and powder rooms as well as the main areas of your home,” Rea suggests. “You can use beautifully fragranced pot pourri, scented cones, even vases filled with branches.”

Outdoor urns also offer an excellent way to decorate for the holidays, offering the perfect transition to a stunning indoor display. Many kinds of arrangements are suitable for outdoor use; among these are topiaries, swags, and wreaths as well as designs done in baskets and urns.

Award-winning designer Rea, whose work has been featured in a variety of magazines and on television, is often asked about the ideal order timing for mantle arrangements or fresh garland for the banisters.

“I recommend a week before Christmas, particularly if you want it to look fresh over the holidays,” he advises.

The same holds true for centerpieces. Cut flowers are always best when fresh, but make sure you order well in advance (Rea’s clients often order more than a year ahead) to help ensure your selection is available.