For those of us living in certain areas of the Northeast, the first snow just fell. It landed gently on the evergreen trees. Icicles formed in gutter pipes and the sun fell upon it all, throwing light - magnified - and creating a kind of translucence. There is something about the apparent barren nature of winter that underscores the reality of its potential bounty – even while apparently dormant. Trees are a miracle in many ways. They are a constant reminder that nature – and sometimes even color – is still present even in the snowy depths.
This winter, consider building a Gum Drop Tree. This idea came to us from Rayman Boozer of interior design firm, Apartment 48, who always built it for the holidays with his mother and grandmother while growing up in Alabama. This decorative arts project requires the artist to gather branches from outside (note that this can be done, as well, by urban dwellers.) Once a collection of suitably long or short branches (depending on personal preference) have been identified, bring this branch “bouquet” inside. Let the pieces dry, if necessary. Once ready to begin, coat the branches with colorful glittery nail polish. (Watch the light catch the shimmer, like sun on the snow.) Once the polish is completely dry, use the vases (those that seem lonely for their friends, the flowers) and deposit the decorated branches into these vessels. (Now, lonely no more.)
When you are satisfied with your arrangement, go ahead, and put a gum drop at the end of each branch, making use of twigs, too. (Make sure to mix your gum drop colors to create maximum contrast.) Once done, place your winter-inspired masterpiece anywhere you like. Our favorite thing about this project is that while gumdrops are reminiscent of the holidays (think: The Nutcracker, they are not strictly defined by a holiday timeframe – dissimilar, in that way, from Candy Canes.) So, even as winter deepens, the opportunity to add nature and color to your home in this manner – from the outside in - continues well after the last lights come down.
As winter deepens, and the ground remains frozen (storing up the coming and multiple gifts of spring and summer), we at Bear Creek Farm remind our friends that getting outside to find the offerings of winter is important. A winter walk can lift one’s spirits and reveal any number of things to work with - despite the lack of a wellspring of teeming flower beds. Even as the days grow shorter, nature is there. It is knocking on our doors offering itself as a reminder that beauty is a four-season proposition - and an ongoing partnership. Winter may be coldest, requiring creativity. Winter may not deliver the kind of floral beauty that the other three seasons gift us (sometimes against the odds) - but nature is always there and is always beautiful. Winter teases us a bit, is a flirt.
The depths feel, at times to us, like a throw down challenge from the great outdoors – one that asks lovers of nature to look harder for that which can still be harvested and brought indoors. This is another version of the delicate waltz between a nature lover and nature itself, wherein the aficionado follows - as nature leads - in creating a delicate dance (a new box step) between committed partners.
So, while the Gum Drop Tree is one such example of winter craft, there are other nature-based winter projects waiting for you to play with, asking that you find the tools offered. Many are left in plain sight, scattered clues - just waiting to be gathered up. Bring the winter inside – just as you would in any other season - and watch your surroundings brighten. Nurture your own creative spirit using nature as your winter palette.
Now that you've finished reading this article, you should check out our tulip planting primer, dahlia growing guide, and cutting guide for dahlias. And if you're shopping for dahlia tubers, make sure to check out our giant dahlia tubers (10"+ blooms), micro dahlia tubers (under 2" blooms), dark pink dahlia tubers, dark red dahlia tubers, and bicolor dahlia tubers.