'So that's how it's done'

November 19, 1998

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Flower show judge Marie Disney showed her Hagerstown Women's Club audience how to make swags and wreaths at Crossroads Garden Club's annual greens show last week.

She warned the approximately 160 women that her program would not be an "Ooh and aah" program. Rather the reaction usually is: "Aha, so that's how it's done," she said.

--cont. from lifestyle--

She was wrong. There were plenty of "oohs" and "aahs." Disney delighted her audience with demonstrations of the mechanics of several arrangements. She showed the basics, leaving some of the finishing details to the makers themselves.


Accredited by the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Disney, a master flower show judge and a member of Bent Twig Garden Club in Catonsville, Md., has been arranging flowers and greens and fruits and vegetables for years. She says she used to make wreaths of dried herbs, but started to sniffle a lot and realized she had become allergic to them.

By the way, the "h" in herb is pronounced now, according to Disney. "The National Herb Society has decided," she says.

She and her husband have lived in their neighborhood for 46 years. "It used to be country," she said.

Disney finds the stuff of her creations wherever she goes, and she's not shy about asking for material if she sees something she wants to use.

She volunteers to prune neighbors' shrubs and pachysandra. She's been frustrated by not being able to find many milkweed pods this year, so she has scattered seeds, hoping for a plentiful harvest next year.

Disney's husband carefully opens walnuts and empties them of meat. Then they glue them back together and put a wooden pick between the halves so she can anchor the walnut in the arrangement.

She cuts the elastic off the tops of old panty hose and uses the stretchy strips, anchored with U-shaped greening pins, to hold greens to plastic foam wreath rings.

Disney showed a tiny wreath made from cockleburs spray-painted gold and adorned with a raffia angel.

She displayed an arrangement she's had for more than 25 years and showed her audience how to make one fashioning a flat basket from chicken wire, stuffing it with fallen oak leaves - the only leaves that won't disintegrate, according to Disney. She made the basket handle from a forsythia stem, backed the basket with red felt and added fresh greens and a bow.

Disney's Fresh Greens Kissing Ball is made from plastic berry baskets, the top edge cut off one, then fit down into the other and laced together after wet oasis is placed inside. A long piece of wire is pushed through the center of the box and brought to the top and made into a long loop for a hanger. Disney pokes small pieces of boxwood in the basket holes to form a nicely rounded ball. Mistletoe can be wired and inserted underneath, and the ball can be trimmed with tiny bells or bows or whatever the arranger likes.

The two-hour program was packed with ideas that drew applause as well as the "oohs" and "aahs."

"I have no secrets. My love is the mechanics," Disney said.

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