After all that cleaning and cooking, why leave your seder table looking drab? Easy-to-make fresh fruit topiaries are perfect centerpieces.
Topiaries are multi-dimensional "mini trees" fashioned from flowers, fruits and greenery. These gorgeous centerpieces herald spring in all its beauty while adding a unique touch of elegance to the Passover seder.
Topiary, the art of ornamental gardening, dates back to the 18th century. Often found in colonial and Victorian decor, it is easy to re-create with Styrofoam, real or dried greenery, fruit and flowers. Lemons, limes, oranges, apples and pomegranates work especially well, although use whatever you feel will look best on your table.
As the holiday progresses, keep your topiary alive by exchanging the fruit for flowers and other decorative touches.
A large decorative vase with a round opening
2 floral moss blocks or Styrofoam balls, spray painted green
1 2-foot thin round wooden pole, spray painted green
Willow vine sprays
Spanish moss in the color of your choice
Box of U-pins
10-20 green hydrangeas, depending on the topiary's size
Green floral wire
Green floral tape
Various pieces of fruit, such as 20 lemons or limes, 10 oranges or apples, and smaller accenting fruit and nuts such as purple grapes, cranberries, strawberries, chestnuts;
12 inch wooded sticks, such as shish kabob skewers
Box of toothpicks
- Choose your decorative vase in proportion to the size of the floral moss blocks or Styrofoam balls. Cut the moss block or Styrofoam to fit the inside of the pot. If needed, tape it in.
- Choose your wooden pole so that the height of the "tree" will be 2-1/2 times the height of the pot. Insert the stick into the foam in the pot to make a hole for the "trunk," and remove the stick.
- Tuck Spanish moss into the pot to cover the moss block or Styrofoam, and fasten it down with U-pins. Stick some of the hydrangea on the moss to add color and texture to the base of the "tree."
- Insert the stick in the original hole in the now-covered moss block or Styrofoam. Glue, if necessary. Place the second moss block or Styrofoam on top of the stick to make a hole and then remove.
- Working in concentric circles from the top of the moss block or Styrofoam, attach pieces of willow vine sprays, using floral wire to secure the vine sprays in place.
- After half the foam is covered with greenery, attach the foam on top of the stick and completely cover the rest of the ball. Stick in hydrangeas to enhance the topiary ball shape. Embellish the stick with vine sprays, moss, and using floral wire, secure the remaining hydrangea, if desired
- Bring the topiary comes to life by adding the fruit. Cut all but four or five of the fruits in half and attach the whole and uncut fruit to wooden skewers. Arrange the cut fruits, cut side down, around the upper portion of the topiary by carefully pushing each stick into the moss. Place the uncut fruit around the perimeter of the base of the topiary by carefully pushing the sticks into the moss.
- Attach the accenting fruit to toothpicks (strawberries work well with lemons, purple grapes with green apples, blue berries with limes) and arrange them all over the topiary by carefully pushing the toothpicks into the moss.
To increase the life of the fruit, choose slightly under-ripe pieces and store the topiary in a dry place, as moisture will cause the fruit to decay faster. The fruit should stay fresh for 4-5 days, depending on the type (oranges will last longer than berries) and the quality at the time of purchase. When the fruit needs to be changed, gently twist the U-pins free and pull out the fruit. Replace with new fruit or change the look by adding flowers. The willow vine sprays do not need to be changed, as they will dry in place.