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Springtime Project: Olmsted Basket

All Things Biltmore • 04/21/16

Written By LeeAnn Donnelly

Biltmore’s gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as his last great commission. Gentleness, charm, and naturalness are keynotes of Olmsted’s style.

The picturesque and pastoral elements of Olmsted’s gardens can be recalled in our miniature landscapes, which our Floral Team uses throughout Biltmore House and other areas of the estate as a way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside.

How to Create a Biltmore “Olmsted Basket

1. Gather Your Materials

To create this small garden you must first choose a container, plant materials, and accessories that complement each other and your setting.

  • Container or basket: Your container can be a basket, ceramic bowl, brass dish, or wooden box; anything deep enough to hide multiple pots and give you room to create. If you use an open weave basket, line it first with sphagnum moss so the foil and mechanics won’t show.
  • Assorted plants: The size of the pots are determined by the size of your container, but 4″ pots are most commonly used. It’s best to use plants with similar requirements such as light, water, humidity, and temperature. We recommend using some tall and low plants, some upright and some spreading to add depth. Ensure the pots should have drainage holes to protect from soggy roots.
  • Creative accessories: Use natural materials such as moss, rocks, twigs, gourds, and berries to create interest with different textures. 
  • Additional supplies: floral poly-foil or other watertight liner for your basket, floral foam, and sphagnum moss or other natural materials to use as filler

2. Designing Your Basket

  • Prepare your plants by watering them well and allowing to drain.
  • Next, line your basket carefully with florist’s poly-foil or other material to create a watertight container.
  • Begin arranging plant pots in the basket, using floral foam to stack and wedge them into position.
  • Take care not to overcrowd the plants and allow for a rambling, natural feeling with varying heights.
  • Arrange moss to cover foam or pots that may be showing and add visual interest with varied texture.
  • Add finishing touches with accessories such as rocks, twigs, or berries.

3. Display Your Arrangement

  • Choose the perfect spot inside your home to display your Olmsted-inspired creation.
  • Water with care as required by each plant. Tip: Some plants may need to be removed for watering.

From room accents to tabletop centerpieces, these long-lasting designs are a perfect way to brighten up your space. 

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