To Marie Raley, owner and lead designer of Minnetonka-based Laine Moire Floral Design, finding flowers that can handle frosty Minnesota winters is what holiday décor is all about. From outdoor pots to full-blown arrangements to decorate your home while hosting, read on for Raley’s expert tips.
Besides the obvious, what’s the difference between what you place in an indoor centerpiece and outdoor pot?
Outdoor pots are fairly consistent every year. It’s a mix of preserved and fresh products—”preserved” meaning birch bark, birch logs, willow, or pine cones. A lot of that has to do with what works outside. Now, when we talk about winter arrangements inside the home, you have a little more flexibility because you can use fresh flowers that still can be in water (but they might wilt over time and have to be changed throughout the season). Those styles do change. Table centerpieces follow event décor trends, so what you might see in a wedding centerpiece, you might also see in a winter centerpiece.
From botanicals to bows, let’s talk about the different types of decorations.
It’s really all personal preference. There’s so many different kinds of ribbon, whether it be used for weaving or making a bow. Some people really love having bows on their outdoor wreaths, and some people just like having foliage. I tend to use more compostable, natural items in my décor, so I don’t feel like I need to be saving or storing all of these different plastic items every year.
Can you talk about the seasonality of flowers and what materials can withstand the harshness of the winter?
Stick with things that aren’t going to freeze and wilt. If you look at nature during the winter in the Midwest, you can see what is still maintaining its color and shape—even though it’s 10 degrees. There are different types of spruce, firs, pines, cedars, and all the evergreens we can think of. Some people even use branches with preserved leaves.
When someone is looking to style their home with florals around the holidays, where would you recommend they begin?
Sometimes people can’t look at their space and have an exact idea of what to do, so looking at different websites and magazines to pull inspiration from is a good idea.
Challenge yourself to pick a couple of unique items that you like, and use that rather than recreating something you’ve already seen. For example, when I do my personal pots after all my workshops are done, I don’t set things aside for myself. I wait to see what everybody didn’t pick. It’s a creative challenge to use what I have and look for other things that might work. People get so stuck in the mindset of “This is what a pot should look like,” and they forget there are so many alternatives.
Where should someone shop for supplies?
I think it’s important to source locally. There are a lot of nurseries and roadside garden stands that have fresher products. The one thing to keep in mind when you’re making an indoor centerpiece or an outdoor pot is that the fresher the product can be, the longer the arrangement will last. So, if you’re buying, say, spruce tips from a big-box store, those spruce tips could have been sitting on a truck for a month and a half before you bring them home. But if you have access to a local farm stand, they may have only been cut a week or two before. So, rather than where you’re getting it, I would be more concerned with how fresh the product is.
Do you have advice for curating an arrangement itself?
For indoor arrangements or outdoor pots, you always start with your greens—something sturdy so you can create the shape and size of the arrangement you want. Then you can fill in from there, whether it’s your foliage or flowers.
Do you have a favorite material to work with in the winter?
My favorite winter foliage is a berry juniper. I really like all the different textures you see, and it’s something different than a spruce tip. Everybody uses a spruce tip.
Anything to avoid?
People like to make a winter wreath and hang it in their home, but evergreens do not like being inside and out of water. They get dry and need more humidity and moisture. And people forget that their pots outside have fresh ingredients in them, so if you’re making a pot or buying one in late November, you have to make sure it’s still watered.
What should someone take into consideration if they’re choosing between an outdoor pot or an indoor centerpiece?
If you had to pick one, I would go for a wreath on a front door or an outdoor pot, simply because I know it will last the longest. A centerpiece is really great for an event, but it might last a month, whereas an outdoor pot may make it five months. I always do my pots, and then the centerpiece is an afterthought for me. And I’m a florist, so that’s saying something!