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Bare Essentials

In winter, foliage can be at a premium – but do you really need it? Instead, why not match nature's mood at this point in the calendar, when fallen leaves have revealed the muted colours, textures and sculptural shapes of bare branches? After all, there is plenty of opportunity over the course of the coming year for using green foliage and flowers, so before new buds appear, here are some suggestions of how to show off spring flowers with the minimum of green and the maximum of style.

Pussy Willow Salix caprea

The soft, furry catkins of pussy willow appear in early spring. Freshly cut, they are very malleable, and can also be used dried, although they will lose their suppleness.

Three Ways With Pussy Willow

Keep it simple

Show off miniature flowering tulip bulbs by tying them with raffia and displaying in a clear, modern container. A charming, understated spring centrepiece.


What could be more spring like? A bundle of pussy willow laced with tall stems of pure white, scented freesia arranged in a clear glass vase.


Gerberas create a bold, solid block of pure colour above a dense forest of willow. The bright yellow flowers pick out the fine dusting of pollen which appears as the male catkins mature.

Contorted Hazel Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

Tough and sturdy, contorted hazel is strong enough for making substantial frameworks and is ideal for large structures. The leaves which follow the mustard yellow catkins are also misshapen.

Creating with Corylus


A twisted framework of hazel, secured at both ends with organza ribbon, lies across a low bowl and acts as a decorative support for miniature bunches of muscari and the distinctive chequered petals of fritillaria.


Make a statement piece by transforming a large goldfish bowl, using hazel as an external framework, which grows up and into tall, majestic stems of scented lilac.

Flowering Cherry Prunus

Not only do flowering cherries produce pretty, delicate blossom in early spring, the bark itself is also texturally interesting.

Two Ways With Prunus


Hyacinths are known to become floppy and top heavy as they mature. Use this to your advantage by displaying them in a deep glass tank vase, crisscrossed with stems of cherry about to burst into flower.


This highly individual container has been made by cutting short lengths of prunus and wiring them together. Place a glass bowl in the centre and fill it with tulips and cherry blossom for a floral still-life.

After some more inspiration? Check out this blog on Seasonal Foliage for Spring


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.




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