Holiday Treehouse

The Christmas Poinsettia – ‘Flower of the Holy Night’

I picked up my cellphone last week to the sound of a lovely familiar voice. “I know you’re really busy, but do you have time to Christmas-up our house?” It was the voice of one my favorite clients who lives in a brown shingled cottage on a nearby hillside dotted with huge old California oaks.

I was delighted by Connie’s request. “By the way”, she added, “Richard wants lots of red poinsettia’s everywhere!” Not exactly a fan of the predictable holiday plant, I ask if we could add something pink, green or white to the mix. “OK,” she responded, “but my husband loves red!”

Two Huge Poinsettias

Two huge red poinsettias flanked the doorway.
Two huge red poinsettias flanked the doorway.

I called my longtime assistant, Pat, who proceeded to fill her SUV with all sizes of red poinsettia’s – small, medium and large – as requested.  But when we arrived at Connie and Richard’s home, we found two of the biggest poinsettias I’d ever seen flanking each side of the front door.

Richard Loves Red

Richard knew what he wanted for Christmas image
Richard knew what he wanted for Christmas.

I tell you this story to prove my premise that often people have a sense of what feels good to them in their home no matter what time of year. But perhaps this is true even more during the holidays which can elicit treasured memories from the past.

Although Richard is a successful real estate attorney and developer, he knew exactly what he wanted for Christmas.  In fact, we discovered he had already filled the outside and inside of the house with – you guessed it – all sizes of bright red poinsettias. I told the couple we could return the plants we brought but Connie insisted there was room for all the red flowers.

Elegant Winter Backdrop

The poinsettias sparkled against the elegant winter backdrop image.
The poinsettias sparkled against the elegant winter backdrop.

Still not crazy about repeating the same common holiday plant throughout the couple’s home, I headed to the back deck while Pat worked on the Christmas tree inside. To my surprise, the woodsy property, filled with beautifully textured black, brown and gray tree trunks visible from the deck in every direction, seemed to be in tune with Richard’s wishes. Their stately presence readily served as an elegant winter backdrop for the radiant red clusters he loved.

Image with The adjacent green leaves-complement the red pointsettias.
The adjacent green leaves-complement the red pointsettias.

I could feel my attitude begin to change toward the bushels of shiny foil-covered pots, lime green leaves and crimson red flowers.  I found myself eager to place the once-disliked red poinsettia’s in different settings where the contrast of the trees embraced them, and adjacent green leaves complemented their unique shade of red.

Indoor Inspiration

Image with the crimson poinsettias that glowed in the afternoon light.
Crimson poinsettias glowed in the afternoon light.

Inspired, I headed indoors to fill the dining room centerpiece with smaller versions of the same red that literally glowed in the afternoon light.

Grey tree trunks look like sculpture behind the greens and holly berries image
Grey tree trunks look like sculpture behind the greens and holly berries.

There I found glossy green and cinnamon colored pots to stuff Christmas tree trimmings and holly berries in where soft gray tree trunks looked like sculpture outside the dining room window.

Variegated poinsettias and ivy mimic the shapes of tree branches outside
Variegated poinsettias and ivy mimic the shapes of tree branches outside.

In the living room I filled a rectangular burgundy container with red variegated poinsettias and ivy that mimicked the shapes of tree branches seen across the room through floor-to-ceiling transom windows and doors.  A light filled Christmas tree, berry studded garland on the mantle and bowl of frosty-colored green and white kale completed the holiday decorations.

Nature Imitates Art

Leafless tree limbs repeat the lines of a rusted element on the fireplace image.
Leafless tree limbs repeat the lines of a rusted element on the fireplace.

I couldn’t help but notice lacy branches brushing a window by the fireplace that repeated the lines of a rusty ornate architectural element hung over the mantle. I stopped to reflect that everything in life is interconnected, evident both inside and outside the walls of this hillside cottage surrounded by the magnificent sculpture of leafless winter trees.

Christmas poinsettias holy flower of the night image.
Legend has it that Christmas Poinsettias were also called Christmas Stars.

Nature truly imitates art where nothing is ever predictable.  Each cluster of red poinsettias added its unique beauty to this holiday treehouse. When Pat and I left Connie and Richard’s home on the hill that night, I surprised myself by thinking how radiant the two huge poinsettias looked glowing in the dark under the soft porch lights.

When I got home, I looked up Christmas Poinsettias. In South America – they’re called Flowers of the Holy Night.  No wonder they glow in the dark!

In the love of nature,

Toby and Linda Applewhite
Showing 5 comments
  • Donna Mobley

    Thanks for the inspiration. XXX Donna

  • Jennifer Duffy

    Your beautiful story evokes such a wonderful feeling of Christmas, nature, and the spiritual effect of poinsettias. Thank you so much and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  • Kirby

    One of the many things I really admire about Linda’s work is her respect & response to each client’s unique preferences of color & sense of space. A great example is the story of the poinsettias and this charming cottage. Merry merry Christmas!

  • Marla

    Oh just so rich: the post, the color, the Season!
    Wishing a beautiful and blessed Merry Christmas!!

  • Pebbie Comer

    WOW. Those simple poinsettias made such an impact. What a fun and beautiful story to share. It all looks so wonderful!

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