Kumquat balls - Push wire through a 2-inch styrofoam ball and make loop to secure. Attach kumquats to ball with heavy duty tooth pick or floral pick. Tuck in accents of boxwood. Hang by wire disguised with grosgrain ribbon. Picks are available at craft stores.
Key lime balls - Attach key limes and cranberries to a 3-inch styrofoam ball with floral pick or heavy duty toothpick.
Tree and mantel garland-Tuck variegated ivy plants into holiday greens. Roberts's secret: Remove plants from 6-inch pots and secure soil and roots in a freezer bag tied with rubber band. The roots can be easily shaped and tucked into holiday greens and tight places to hide. Just pull on tension of rubber band and add water to keep moist.Plants last like this through the season and give a look similar to holly. Cut greens will dry much more quickly.
Greenery on mantel corners - Use 18-inch boxwood wreaths cut to create half circles.
Mantel garlands - Kumquat and cranberry garlands are strung on fishing line and braided. The garlands are anchored at the corners by a solid weight concealed in greenery and pepperberries.
Mantel cups - Fill silver julep cups with orchids, roses, or gloriosa lilies.
Horsetail reed trees - Attach horsetail reeds to styrofoam cones with fern pins and dot with gloriosa lilies and green cymbidium orchids in water tubes. Finish with orangecranberry garlands strung on 18-inch wire and poked in. For trunks, cover candlesticks with cinnamon sticks secured by rubber bands. “A glue gun takes too much time,” says Roberts.
Food-serving risers - Using string, attach boxwood sprigs to 2 or 3 layers of green styrofoam rings. Add grosgrain ribbon if desired. Stud top with tangerines or key limes using floral picks. Top with serving plate.
Chandelier garland - Adorn chandelier with variegated boxwood, branching scotch broom, and crab apples.
Table basket - Use wire to attach rings of small red delicious apples to a wire frame, fill spaces between apples with mood moss. Fill cylinder with paperwhite narcissus bulbs.
Pear-tree - Fill an urn with "reindeer branches'' a floral industry term, so-called for the structure, or any sturdy open-structure branch. Tie red Bartlett pears onto branches with raffia; and add amaryllis plants, treated with Roberts's signature freezer bag treatment. Arrange artificial monkey pods, noble fir bows and birch bark-covered candles at the base of the arrangement. (Note: If the amaryllis plants are bought closed, they'll bloom and last close to a month.)
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Floral designer: John R. Roberts, The JRR Company, 69 W. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105; 626/440-9227, johnrroberts.com. Roberts uses traditional materials in an untraditional way to create a California Christmas theme. Here he mixes unexpected fruits, kumquats and key limes, for boldly contrasting colors.
Entry hall- garland; large-leaf boxwood and olive green grosgrain ribbon.
Table arrangement -Arrange Protea foliage from New Zealand, with green cymbidium orchids, tangerines (attached with floral trade picks) and cranberries (attached with toothpicks). "Fruit-on-fruit layering'' is the key, says Roberts.