Sunday | November 19, 2017
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Bodacious botanical

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Don Haynie can take a lot of little nothings and turn them into a big something.

Give the floral designer sticks from the yard or woods, a small clay pot and faux pears and within minutes he whisks the pieces into a centerpiece he calls “Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

“Any kind of twigs work,” says Haynie.

“Lilac is a hard wood that’s good. Vitex, also called chaste tree, is nice. Old wood from a fig works, too. Just go out and prune in the garden and you’ll come up with what you need.”

Haynie, who had a floral business in Warsaw, Va., and formerly ran the Buffalo Springs Herb Farm in the Shenandoah Valley, moved to Williamsburg, Va., a few years ago.

He now shares his time and talents with Colonial Williamsburg, especially during the holidays, helping decorate colonial taverns with botanical creations.

He recently created a “Partridge in a Pear Tree” topiary for Williamsburg’s annual Holiday Symposium. It can be made in any size — larger for the center of a table or for the ends of a sideboard, with smaller ones as accents. You can also change the look, using faux apples or ornaments, and colors to coordinate with your dcor. For instance, a red bird would look good with rosy-colored apples. Bells and red bows can even be used to embellish the topiary.

Miniature pine cones could be used for Thanksgiving, then switched out for something more Christmas-like.

“It’s a good project for kids to do, and is fun to make, “he says.

‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’


4 wood sticks, 14 inches, 8 inches, 7 inches and 5 inches long

6 faux pears

2-inch clay pot, sponged with any color acrylic craft paint to give it vintage look

1 small faux partridge

Wood glue

Clear-drying glue, or glue gun

Plaster of Paris, or some similar material to fill and secure clay pot

Decorative small gravel, or moss

1 stem faux leaves, or fresh bay leaves

1 small faux garland, optional


Using a small hand saw, notch the 14-inch-long stick and the three other shorter sticks so they fit snug and form a “mast,” much like you see on a sailing vessel.

Glue the sticks in place.

Fill the clay pot with Plaster of Paris, or whatever material you choose that will help the pot stand upright when the topiary is completed.

Immediately insert the “mast” into the pot while the plaster is soft, before it hardens.

Using clear string, like fishing line, attach a faux pear to each end of the three horizontal sticks.

Using clear glue, or a glue gun, attach a faux leaf on either side of each pear. You may need to use scissors to trim down leaves or fashion smaller leaves from larger leaves to suit the scale of your topiary.

Glue faux partridge to top of tree.

Loosely wind faux garland around vertical stick.

Embellish top of pot with small decorative gravel.

Books to check out

c “Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg,” a gift-perfect, 135-page hardback copyrighted by Colonial Williamsburg in 1991. It features all the traditional wreaths, swags, kissing balls, mossed topiaries and centerpieces made with fresh fruits and evergreens, as well as dried botanicals. Recipes included, too. $19.95.

c “Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Christmas,” an 80-page softback, copyrighted in 1981, with how-to steps for basic boxwood and pine wreaths, fruit cones and dried herb wreath. $10.95.

c “The Art-Full Tree: Ornaments to Make Inspired by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum,” with 143 pages of ideas with materials lists and instructions, as well as patterns, stitch guides and photographs of original art in the museum, so you can create folk art for your own Christmas tree. $16.95.

The books are available at; or call 800-446-9240.