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Tabletop trees; you choose the foliage and the shape for these.

Tabletop trees Small scale and interesting mixes of foliage make these little "trees" stand out as tabletop decorations or holiday gifts. Though they look very different from one another, underneath their leafy trappings they're all the same: a flower pot, plaster, a dowel, and some florist's foam. Plaster holds the dowel trunks in place. Florist's foam shapes the tree canopies and, when moistened, keeps greenery fresh. Renew the greenery for a changing display.

Individuality comes from the foliage you choose and the way you use it. Try Catalina cherry, oak, or mahonia for the natural look of a California hillside, tiny succulent rosettes to capture the muted colors of a Southwest desert, spruce or fir for the look of a Northwest forest. Trees can be fragrant (rosemary or bay) or colorful, crowned with berries or flowers.

Making the form

For each tree, you'll need a 4- to 5-inch-diameter clay pot; plaster of Paris ($4 for 4 pounds, enough for up to 10 trees); a 12-inch length of 3/4-2nch dowel, sanded on one end to a slightly rounded point; water-absorbing florist's foam (about $ 1 for a 4-by 9-inch block at craft or florists' supply stores); and a handful of sphagnum moss (about $3 for a small bag).

Mix plaster according to package directions. Center dowel in pot (pointed end up), then pour plaster around it to about 2 inches from pot rim; allow to dry at least two hours or overnight. Cut foam block in half and trim off corners as shown below. Soak rounded half-block in water, shake off excess, then center on dowel.

Adding the greens

Choose long-lasting, small-leafed foliage. Besides the kinds shown, choices include camellia, holly, nandina, pittosporum, pyracantha, and the floewring tips of jade plant. Stick greens into foam as soon as possible after gathering.

Cut foliage into snippets 6 to 10 inches long, then pluck off lower leaves to give an inch or two of clean stem. Use garden shears to taper thick woody stems.

To conceal plaster, tuck sphagnum moss around tree's base.

Keeping the trees fresh

Display trees away from furnace vents. Mist foliage and foam every day or two. Replace any spent blooms or berries.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Words:364
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