Making memories where you find them

November 18, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

"I don't consider myself a designer," says Sukey Rankin, who wowed about 125 women recently attending Crossroads Garden Club's annual greens show at the Women's Club in Hagerstown.

"But we all like to play."

Rankin played hard, creating several arrangements for inside as well as outside the home for the holiday season.

She calls what she does "backyard decorating," and her yard, her mother's yard and the yards of garden club members were the source of the wide variety of greens she used.

Rankin also used a lot of the herbs grown in her garden in borders and in pots. She likes the way they look and the wonderful way they smell in arrangements.


"You never have enough thyme," Rankin says and uses that herb and others - parsley, fennel, mints - and fragrant plants such as peppermint and chocolate geraniums, santalina and seeded eucalyptus for their scent as much as their appearance.

She made use of containers and common household items not usually considered the stuff of holiday arrangements.

A "handy-dandy" plunger, handle anchored in a block of oasis in a terra cotta flowerpot, became the foundation for a two-tiered topiary. A smaller block of oasis in the plunger cup held an arrangement of greens and herbs.

"Every topiary should have rosemary, the herb of friendship," Rankin says.

A speckled tin coffee pot, a group of blue bottles and jars - formerly milk of magnesia and Vicks Vaporub containers - become a "blue Christmas without you" arrangement.

A collection of pillar candles, a tall one created by standing one on top of another, made a tableau that Rankin thinks would look pretty on a mantel - especially with a mirror behind it. She had tied ribbons on some of the candles, and used wire to anchor crab apples and boxwood on a ring around another.

Rankin's arranging art is a hobby - done in her kitchen. That hobby is a fairly consuming one. She's done demonstrations in her work as a Longaberger consultant, has been decorating chairwoman for Washington County Hospital's Crystal Ball for five years and won 28 ribbons at the "Pick of the Garden" show at the Women's Club last spring.

Nothing seems to be off-limits for a Sukey Rankin holiday arrangement. Fruit - gourds, pears, a mango, oranges and lemons - all have a place. "When in doubt, use the apples," she says.

"Christmas is kids. Holidays are memories," Rankin says, and the scent of horehound, a minty herb with whitish leaves, conjures some for her and her family.

Her son's second grade science project - making horehound candy - has become a family tradition.

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