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Zac Williams
A display featuring evergreen boughs, pinecones and fruit.
I got my start in decorating when I helped my sister when she was helping to move Pioneer Village to Lagoon.

One of the favorite aspects of Christmas for a plant lover is the beautiful flowers and especially the evergreens that are part of wonderful holiday traditions. These elegant decorations are part of Christian and other celebrations that date back thousands of years.

One local florist likes making these creations so much that he has even written a book about it. Robert Waite has owned his florist shop in Kaysville since 1988. He creates stunning bouquets, wreaths, garlands and other decorations for his clientele.

Waite has authored a beautiful book titled "Decorating With Evergreens." It explains the history of various kinds of Christmas decorations, how Waite likes to use them in the home and how you can create similar beauty inside and outside your home.

Waite grew up in Kaysville and dabbled in decorating as a kid.

"I got my start in decorating when I helped my sister when she was helping to move Pioneer Village to Lagoon," Waite said. "We got to help put in many exhibits and eventually started using flowers from the beds to create fresh arrangements for the homes and buildings."

I asked him why he chose evergreens as the subject of his book. His enthusiastic reply was, "I like greenery! It is the beginning of all floral arrangements. It never dies. It is the basis of all floral bouquets.

"I like wild thistles, I like wild greenery, and I like wild sunflowers. It is all good to me. A lot of people in Kaysville have wonderful gardens and they have given me the chance to pick whatever I like out of their garden.

"Over the years I have developed a reputation and a clientele that wants unusual designs. Because of this, I look for something different. I am an unconventional florist. I am pretty much self-taught and people like what I do. I love Kaysville. It is a wonderful town and it keeps me in business."

I asked him what were his favorite evergreens for arrangement and he listed some that were readily available in local gardens and some that were available for purchase through florists.

Local plants include Pinyon pine, fir, boxwood, junipers and Oregon grape. Purchased materials include Princess Pine, sprengeri fern, holly, eucalyptus and sweet huck.

He also likes other plants that are harvested even in the summer. "I love harvesting pods. I love black-eyed Susan pods," he said.

He also harvests rose hips, sunflower pods and many other plants.

If you pick your own greens, you know they are fresh. You need to keep them fresh. Evergreens are pretty resilient, but they do need a little care. Keep them away from the heat.

Once you have finalized your ideas of what flowers, greenery and other materials you want to use in your design, Waite recommends selecting the appropriate container. From his book you can see that many of his are one-of-a-kind finds from estate sales or other treasures.

His recipe for success is, "Dig in and start by getting a nice container. Visualize what you are trying to create such as a wreath, swag or an arrangement. I visualize something, and then I make it happen. There are some rules, but I work hard in not following them. I like odd shapes and materials and like to include them."

Waite's style is described as organic and he is inspired by what he finds at hand and advises others to do the same. Among the treasures he incorporates are ivy from his backyard, sheaves of wheat from nearby fields and other fresh and dried plant parts.

He also has fruits from many garden plants. These include yellow and red crabapples, bright orange berries from pyracantha and many dried garden flowers including dried yarrow, statice and others that some would describe as weeds.

Fresh fruit is also a great addition to his creations. Bright yellow and red apples offer very diverse seasonal color as do oranges, tangerines lemons and limes. Add some pomegranates, artichokes and various pine and spruce cones and there is almost no end to what you can create.

I tell people to have fun and not be too critical of themselves. There is no right and wrong way.

Garden Tips

Robert Waite is the owner of Designer Associates in Kaysville.

Decorating with Evergreens is published by Gibbs Smith of Layton.Garden tips

Robert Waite is the owner of Designer Associates in Kaysville. "Decorating With Evergreens" is published by Gibbs Smith of Layton.

Larry A. Sagers is a horticulture specialist for the Utah State University Extension Service at Thanksgiving Point.