Welcome to the 101st Metamorphosis Monday!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope your holidays have been wonderful!
Recently, I created a Colonial Williamsburg style, apple tree centerpiece for our Christmas dinner table setting. See that table setting here: Christmas Tablescape with Colonial Williamsburg Apple Tree Centerpiece
I’ve had several requests in the past for a tutorial showing how this centerpiece is made…so when I made the centerpiece this year, I took pics along the way.
To create the apple tree shown above, you’ll need some greenery. The greenery I gathered from my yard included magnolia, holly and nandina berries, but you can substitute other types of greenery like boxwood, cedar or pine. I guess you could call the photo below my “Before” for this Met Monday.
You’ll also need an apple tree form. Mine was given to me over 15 years ago by a friend with whom I worked. I’m not sure where she found it. They usually have them at the Williamsburg Marketplace online, but when I checked this evening I couldn’t find them. They may be temporarily sold out due to the Christmas holiday because they usually have them in stock. If you are interested in buying a form, check their site again later in the year and hopefully they will have them back in stock.
If you know someone who is crafty or a woodworker, perhaps they can make one for you. As you can see, mine is just a wood cone, attached to a round wood base. It has what appears to be long finishing nails protruding at regular intervals around the cone. Note: The nail that is protruding from the very top of the form in the center, is longer than all the other nails.
I always place the apple form on a towel so I can spin it around as I work without scratching the surface I’m working on. I bought two bags of small apples. I use small apples because large apples tend to be too big and make it difficult to create three rows around the tree, and still leave the top row of apples low enough to not interfere with the pineapple topper.
To get started, just take an apple and push it onto a nail. I always start at the bottom and work my way up. I like to leave a small space under the apple for tucking in greenery later.
Here’s how it looked after the first row. If you finish and there’s a big gap between your first and last apple, you’ll need to pull the last apple you placed back off and find a fatter apple in your stash of apples, or re-adjust the ones that are on the tree over a little. You don’t want to pull apples off and on a lot because the more holes you create in your apples, the sooner the apples will begin to go bad. But don’t fret about that too much. I always end up having to adjust some apples and my trees still last well over a week…even close to two weeks. I don’t remove the stems from the apples since they don’t seem to interfere in any way.
A view from the top…
Start a second row of apples around your tree. I always stagger the rows but inevitably some apples will end up directly over other apples. Again, don’t worry about that…we aren’t shooting for perfection here. I don’t leave a space between the rows of apples (or at least, I don’t do so intentionally) because I don’t tuck greenery underneath the apples within the apple tree itself. I only do that under the first row of apples.
In this pic, I’m starting the third row. As I’m working, I’m spinning the towel around and around with the tree sitting on top of it. It slides very easily so the work goes quickly. The whole tree only takes about 25-30 minutes to assemble.
Here’s how it looks with the third row completed…
A view looking down with all the apples in place…
I used almost all of the apples in both bags…just had four left over.
I always purchase the smallest pineapple I can find to use for the top. It’s hard to find a small one sometimes. A really big pineapple can tend to overwhelm your apple tree. I don’t go from store to store looking, though. I just buy the smallest I can find wherever I’m shopping. Also, try to use a pineapple that has pretty foliage on top. You don’t want the top of the pineapple to be too crushed or too beat up, if you can help it.
I always pull the holly I use from this large holly bush in my yard. In years past, it would have been covered in berries, but for the last few years it has had very few. I think it could be because it is being shaded by a huge oak tree growing nearby.
So, with holly leaves at the ready, I got to work…
I cut little 4-5 inch pieces and tucked them in between the base and the first row of apples and in between the apples….really just anywhere there seems to be a good size gap. Some holly really are prickly so poke the stems in gently. I always end up sticking myself several times.
Here’s how it looked after I had filled in with some of the holly. I don’t use a glue gun…the holly will usually stay in place by itself. If a piece falls out occasionally, just tuck it back in again.
Another view…see the gaps where I still need to add holly or greenery? You could also use boxwood in between the apples and that would be beautiful.
I usually cut a few nice looking magnolia leaves to put underneath the tree. If you don’t have magnolia in your area, just gather some other type of greenery…maybe cedar or pine. I had just tossed them on the table here to show you about how many I had gathered.
I spread the magnolia leaves out in a circle pointing outward and forming sort of a star shape. Then I place the apple tree on top of the leaves. Just adjust the leaves as needed.
Tip: When you are ready to lift the apple tree to place it in the center of the table atop magnolia leaves or whatever greenery you are using, be very careful. The tree is quite heavy. I normally slide the tree on the towel to the edge of the table and pull it part way off the table so I can get under it to lift it up to place it in the center of the table.
Another method to move the tree would be to delay placing the pineapple on the top and grab that tall center nail to aid you in lifting it to the center of the table. Then, just place the pineapple on top and add greenery around the pineapple once it’s in the center of the table.
Since my holly never seems to have many berries, I always cut berries from the nandina in my yard. I don’t use any of the greenery from my nandinas because I have found it wilts after only a day or two. Holly lasts a nice long time without wilting.
I always place the berries at intervals around the base. I tried tucking some in around the top (see below) but didn’t like the way that looked, so I removed them.
Last year I added a ribbon around the top and I really liked how that looked, so I did it again this year. A red ribbon may have been a better choice, or perhaps even a plaid one. I just reused the sheer gold ribbon I already had. So here’s my “After” photo.
And here’s how it looked in the center of this Christmas table setting. You could also create this centerpiece using apples and limes or apples and lemons…or even all pears. I think the combinations are really almost limitless. It just needs to be a fruit that is small enough to do at least three rows around the cone. I don’t think two rows would look as nice as three.
Last year, when I showed my apple tree on my Christmas tablescape, Kimberly, who reads BNOTP, decided she would create a similar tree for a different occasion…a bachelorette party. I had often thought of using the form for other events or holidays, so I was excited to see what she would create.
Kimberly went with a pink and green theme for her party…and here’s how it turned out. How fun is this! Now unless they are growing pink pineapples somewhere, I’m guessing Kimberly painted the pineapple. I love it with the flowers tucked in between. Great job, Kimberly…and thanks so much for sharing this photo!
Update: Here’s how the tree turned out in for Christmas 2011 made with lemons and limes. View this table setting here: Christmas Table Setting with a Colonial Williamsburg Lemon-Lime Tree Tree Centerpiece
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