Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Palm Tree for Deep South (or anywhere) Events

Yes.  You, too, can make this palm tree...

Okay.  So.  When I began blogging last year the one thing I said to myself was "Self, you've GOT to post something, one thing, every single week or folks are going to lose interest in your little corner of the world (or mind) like you've lost interest in a handful of others."  Self listened and kept it up for a while but, meh, sometimes life gets in the way of the most noble of intentions.  Not that writing a single post a week is a noble intention, but it was an earnest one.

Mama's recovery from the mini-AVR last month is ongoing;  she's doing well -- well enough to be really gripy about the trip to Hattiesburg twice a week for cardio rehab;

well enough to purchase half of the plants from the "reduced for quick sale" section in the garden center at Lowe's.

I've been preoccupied with spoiling tending to her every need:  cooking, cleaning, laundrying (is that a word?), getting flowerbeds cleaned out, plants potted up, Rooster and Hennies rescued from buffalo gnats, dogs bathed,  car washed, bills paid, etc.    You name it, I've done it for her in the last four months.  I've also kept my own household going, a bit more challenging by the return of Youngest Fellow home for a few weeks.  To say I'm feeling stretched a little thin (don't I wish, I'd love to be thin) is an understatement.

Today, however, I had a little journey into the deep woods of Greene County to the community of Neely to build a centerpiece:  not just any centerpiece, but a palm tree centerpiece.  I carried the camera with me because I thought of y'all.  This is something  readily doable with supplies easily found at WalMart.  That's where mine came from.   It helps to have a florist friend with beyond-fresh jade to use as palm fronds.
The dried ends have been trimmed.
 I have holly leaf ferns growing by the driveway that make a nice long frond as well.  And asparagus fern in a big pot by the back porch steps.

The base of the palm tree is a gallon can that's had several pounds of plaster of paris poured into it.  A half inch dowel rod was wrapped once in plastic wrap and taped and put into the wet plaster.  After the plaster was all set, it took a little doing to twist/wring/manhandle the dowel out of it but the two pieces together became the weighted base of the tree.

When I first made this tree, I thought it was the best idea ever to get the huge blocks of styrofoam and whittle it to size and shape.  Wrong.  Get the sheets of styrofoam, use another gallon can to punch out circles, much like a biscuit cutter only denser/messier/with much static.  Once the big circles are cut, place the plaster of paris weighted can with the dowel rod in place on something low.  You'll take one of the foam circles, place it on top of the dowel rod, and whack it with a hammer or shoe or rolling pin.  Voila!  Punches right through!  Push that disc down and do the rest of them the same way, leaving three or four inches space at the top of the dowel rod.

I've three of the bases and the styrofoam to cover them.  They've been used almost a dozen times and are probably another dozen uses away from remaking the discs.

A florist cage and oasis are the only other pieces necessary to construct one.  I wouldn't attempt making a tree without the cage;  the oasis has to be soaked, and all the greenery going into it will make it shatter.

I cut my cage in half and bind it with zip ties after putting a half block 
of wet oasis in it.  The missing plastic in this end is intentional - 
so it will easily fit onto the dowel rod.

Meh.  I don't know what they're called but they can be found at WalMart back in the silk flowers section.  They look like long staples and are very handy for holding the banana leaves in place.

That's a lot of words going on already, so I'm just going to show you how it goes together, 'kay???

Don't laugh.  It's functional, okay?
 That's the gallon can with the plaster of paris and hole in the middle.
Sometimes, I put the smaller blocks of foam at the base
so I can put more greenery and stems of grapes around the base of the tree.

 Everything is all laid out and ready to put together.

 These little pieces of tape are for putting on the cut ends 
of the banana leaves, keeping them from wilting.

 My friend calls this Davey tape.  I've pinned it into place -
And pin banana leaves around the styrofoam, making a single round 
of Davey tape.  Another layer of leaves will go on, just like these, higher
up the trunk of the tree, covering this tape and pins.
 That's two layers of banana leaves, pinned and taped into place.
Three more leaves are wrapped around the top and pinned in place
with those funky florist staple thingies.
 The soaked oasis in the cage gets pushed onto the top of the dowel rods.
 Little sprigs of the fern are snipped and pushed into the oasis to
hide the mechanics of the tree.  Jade greenery is pushed into it afterwards
all the way around, making the palm fronds.
 Spray with leaf shine to make it pretty (and shiny).

Fruit can be put on picks and pushed onto the trunk of the tree for a fruit centerpiece.

I've also put pickles and olives and cheese on picks and pushed them into the trunk of the tree.

The client today only wanted the tree, the fruit and dips for her reception going on the table.  The grass skirting, by the way, is made of eight grass skirts from  Dollar Tree found on the toy wall, tied together and attached to the plastic table cloth (that was taped firmly UNDER the table) by double-sided tape.

I hear of lots of luaus and tropical themed events going on all the time.  Have one for yourself and a couple of dozen friends and make a palm tree for the centerpiece.  People are going to love it!

Thank you again, for your continuing thoughts and prayers for Mama and myself as her recovery continues.  I'm not that strong of a person, I've no doubt it's all the well-wishes on our behalf keeping me sane and her recovering.  Y'all let me know when you're doing to be in the Deep South of Mississippi and I'll have you over for a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea on the front porch.  Hugs and kisses, everybody!



  1. Mary, all I can say is "Bless your heart"!! Will be keeping you and yours in our prayers. Love the palm idea, wish we entertained enough to make one, LOL.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I LOVE it! It's fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. :)