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Before you begin, put wire around the cage and twist it off on the sides so that it won’t scratch walls or doorways. “This ensures that the top of the cage won’t twist off,” Curry said. Decide how you want to hang your swag before you start. Curry prefers to put the handle facing downward for a vertical design, so that the swag is sturdier on top and so she can hold it easier.

Curry said you might also want to use a pick at the bottom of the fruit along with the wire, because it can help the fruit stay more secure. If you are using the decoration on top of a table or a mantle, the wiring is less critical. Use floral tape to cover wires and picks. “You don’t want any wires, tape or pieces of the cage to show,” Curry said.

Tips and Tricks • When picking greenery outside, anything is game. Use what you have in your own yard, or ask a neighbor if you can use something of theirs that you like.

• Pick greenery and other foliage during the fall when there are fewer bugs.

• Plan ahead. If you are doing a dry

arrangement, you need to start picking things early so they have time to dry out.

• If you are using berries, remove the

foliage, because it won’t last as long in your arrangement.

• Use the color and architecture of your

doors or house as inspiration and tie your swag into something that interests you. When decorating in the Historic Area, the floral designers use the colors of the houses. If the resident is a woodworker, decorations might include wood curls. At the taverns, mugs might be incorporated into the decorations.

For a fresh swag Pick your greenery ahead of time, and soak it in clear, cold water. Remove foliage from the part of the stem that you are putting into the wet floral foam. “I like to put greenery in first to give the arrangement shape and length,” Curry said. “A small cage can triple in length, depending on the length of the greens. Use a mixture of greens to add different textures and colors. After putting in some greenery, I like to add fruit and then more greenery and other decorations.” To put on fruit, use straight wire, which is available in different sizes. Curry uses an 18-gauge wire for fruit because it is stiff enough to put through the fruit but will still bend and twist easily. Using the crosspieces of the cage, wire the fruit to the cage. Twist the ends of the wire using your tools, and clip the wire if it is too long.



• When you make a hole in the floral foam, try not to make a new one. The holes do not close back up.

• If you are putting your swag outside, animals might take an interest in it. Squirrels like to nibble on apples.

• Weather is a consideration too. Rain and snow can damage dry decorations, and freezing temperatures will turn some fresh fruits, like lemons, black. If your decoration will be in the sun for most of the day, consider a making a dry piece.

• Remember: Less is more. Sometimes you need to use only a few different items to make a striking arrangement.

For more information on Colonial Williamsburg’s holiday celebration, visit

Consider the color or architecture of your home when deciding what kinds of materials to use in your arrangement.

November 2011 Cultivate  

Introduced in July 2008, Cultivate is published quarterly with a focus on safe, fresh and locally grown foods and the Virginia farms that pr...