The Woodland Tree
A rustic cabin provides the perfect backdrop for designer Stephanie Easterling’s interpretation. She selected a brown-flocked tree because it brought in a bit of the outdoors, while adding a fresh element. Tan and cream fabrics, ribbons and burlaps are unexpected tinsel. “I chose many natural materials that are not typically considered Christmas related.” Bleached oak leaves, preserved boxwood branches, velvet-flocked branches and pheasant feathers enhance the bucolic feel. Easterling finished off the tree with birds, shimmering glass acorns and pinecone ornaments.
Stand-out Element “Burlap and ribbons with embroidered hunting dogs, horses, horseshoes and horns, ” she says “add a softness while providing depth.”
Designer Tip Incorporate elements of the tree into the surrounding area. “Keep ribbon remnants for Christmas packages, ” she says. “Beautifully wrapped presents that correspond to the tree provide a continuity that helps achieve an overall look.”
The Topper A combination of branches and feathers give the tree height. Gold orbs and a ribbon bow draw the eye up.
Wildflowers • 50 S. Church St., Fairhope. 928-6200.
The Family Tree
Mary Jo Matranga of Feather Your Nest, above left, has been sprucing up homes for 38 years. She, daughter Dominique Hicks, far right, and employee Marty Crow selected vibrant red and lime green beaded ornaments and warm personal elements to liven up this traditional tree. The floral sprays add fullness and variety.
Stand-Out Element One of Matranga’s own family traditions is to incorporate photos in the decorations. “Many of my ornaments are picture frames that show how the children have grown from year to year.” Often she hangs them from her chandelier. They can also be used as place cards or napkin rings.
Designer Tip “Ornaments show up better on a skinny tree, ” Crow says. “Plus, with a less full tree (such as a frazier), you may not have to rearrange your whole room.” If you opt for an artificial tree, Hicks suggests lighting a pine-scented candle, like the Balsam and Cedar Candles found at Feather Your Nest.
The Topper For a dash of sparkle Feather Your Nest placed a cluster of stems and sprays of glittered fern leaves inside the tree. They also work in vases or as part of a tablescape.
Feather Your Nest • 4258 Bit and Spur Road. 343-3634.
The Living Tree
Floral design is in the Zimlich family’s blood. Carol Reeves, below, who owns Elizabeth’s Garden, routinely teams up with her brothers, Donald and Tommy Zimlich, of Zimlich Patio & Garden Center, to create breathtaking, out-of-the-box arrangements as she did for this project. The trio started with a wire Christmas tree form and filled it with oasis (wet foam) and cut boxwood. Glitzy items like mercury glass and ribbons are combined with more earthy components like moss and tiny birdhouses. Lady slipper orchids, Chinese tallow berry branches, white alstroemeria and white roses are some of the stunning living blooms and berries.
Stand-out Element To create an organic-themed tree skirt, “we wrapped it with grapevine and then covered it with moss, ” says Reeves.
Designer Tip According to Reeves it’s easy to weave small potted orchids into almost any tree, “Wrap a pot with moss, and attach it with raffia or ribbon.” The flowers don’t require a lot of water, but be sure to mist the roots so the orchids will last well into the holiday season.
The Topper “The wire form begins in the shape of a star. To accent it, I made a big bow with wired fabric ribbons and then inserted orchids to fill it out.”
The Coastal Tree
Ameri’ca Jones has a knack for taking local symbols and sculpting them into unexpected works of art. She has been designing her own product lines for 10 years. To create her tree, Jones formed and welded a frame. Then, she deconstructed more than a dozen crab traps to “wrap” around the structure. To make the garland, she got a commercial net from a Bayou La Batre shrimper, cut the material and dyed it red. “It was pliable enough to gather and bunch, ” she says. Finally, she adorned the work with her own handmade ornaments. “They accentuate those natural materials with the familiar Bay motifs that we all love.”
Stand-out Element Found objects, like buoys cut off the trap lines, are unexpected items that can easily be incorporated into a standard tree. Jones’
original ornaments are unique local art options. “The pier, and the bright, hand-painted crab silhouette are cut steel, ” she says. “My ‘coastal cross’ paintings add some color.”
Designer Tip Jones says that creating an unconventional tree is a great way to change up your décor, and it can be a fun family project. “Just don’t stress about what it should look like. Enjoy whatever happens, ” she says.
The Topper “It had to be a crab, ” Jones says. “What else would you top a crab trap tree with?” She then cut, welded and painted the star to go behind it.
Ameri’ca Jones • doyourdreamdesigns.com
The Whimsical Tree
Magenta, plum and lime green come together in Sheila Kirksey’s quirky scheme. “I really like these hot colors, ” she says. The Candy Land-esque design would be the perfect fit for a children’s playroom or, on a smaller scale, a kitchen. “You can’t ever have too much on a tree, ” says Kirksey, who has owned The Rose Bud Flowers & Gifts for more than 30 years. Sprinkled with a combination of glittery cupcakes, gingerbread houses and shiny glass ornaments, the creation will impress any little Hansel or Gretel. Ribbons and curlicues are the finishing touches.
Stand-out Element When MB offered Kirksey the assignment, she began “looking everywhere for cupcake decorations.” Finally, at the Atlanta holiday market, she found saccharine, confection-inspired, fluffy ornaments. Perfect.
Designer Tip Kirksey recommends using a flocked tree to contrast with a bold palette. “The colors pop against the white, while they would blend in with the green, ” she says.
The Topper To achieve the extra wow factor, Kirksey decided to wire a whopping, cotton-candy-like design in felt to the crown of the tree. “Attach the topper first to anchor the motif, ” she says.
The Rose Bud Flowers & Gifts • 470 N. Craft Highway, Chickasaw. 457-6040. therosebudfloral.com
text by Mallory Boykin • photos by Summer Ennis • produced by Luci Ladd