Christmas finds people fussing with flowers and greens who normally would just plunk them in a vase and call it done. But suddenly they're agonizing over wreaths and garlands, struggling with swags and topiaries and wondering why their efforts don't look like the pictures in the magazines.
The answer is in the mechanics -- the technical term for all the pinholders, wreath forms, floral foams, wires, vials and frogs that discreetly hold arrangements together.
They're the most important part of the design, says Carroll Swarm, author of the new book "Designing for Christmas" (paperback, $14.95), published by Prospect Hill Press of Baltimore. "If you know how to use the mechanics," she says, "you can create just about anything."
In writing the book, Ms. Swarm drew on an impressive background in floral design. She is a longtime member of the Green Spring Valley Garden Club, a Garden Club of America artistic flower show judge emeritus, a teacher, lecturer and, for .. the past 15 years, a partner in Accents Ltd., a shop in Stevenson that specializes in custom dried and silk flower designs for homes and offices.
"Designing for Christmas" is available at the Bookshop at Stevenson Village, Watson's Garden Supply in Lutherville, Garland's Garden Center in Catonsville, Homestead Gardens in Laurel, Valley View Farms in Cockeysville, Ladew Gardens in Monkton, Gordon's bookstores and at Accents Ltd. in Stevenson.