A winter centerpiece: Japanese maple, ferns, rosehips, and ivy. — Susan Safford The Thanksgiving afternoon cold front, steely gray cloudscape pierced by peachy sunset rays, was beautiful. It gilded treetops from Christiantown to Lobsterville. Even though it is now winter, it is good to dress warmly and get out of the house! Low light, simultaneously blinding and illuminating, creates shimmer and gleam: scintillating effects, especially on broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendron and holly. There is still plenty of material outside for centerpieces and bouquets. Fertile and vegetative fronds of sensitive and cinnamon (native) ferns abound. Crabapples, sumac, winterberry, ivy: These are plentiful and colorful. The more berried pieces of bittersweet and multiflora rose we remove from the wild and use in decorations, the better — as long as they are properly disposed of (otherwise, they are merely spread more widely). Resorting to florists’ high-air-miles cut flowers to impress your friends with over-the-top holiday centerpieces? They are gorgeous floral art, yes; but must you? Try making your own, albeit perhaps less extravagant, ones. Visit with Emily Thompson, Manhattan floral designer extraordinaire, at emilythompsonflowers.com/about , and try collecting roadside plants or undergrowth, and flesh out arrangements with fewer stems from the florist case. Or use living plants, such as sempervivums, orchids, cyclamen, or holiday cactus. I have nothing but admiration for florists, and the beauty and artistry of their work. However, today we have arrived at a much greater awareness of the environmental costs of the cut flower industry. This link, bit.ly/CutFlowerCost , pulls up a Google page of articles and statistics detailing the price paid, especially by the global South, for these ephemeral luxuries. Blips Garden writing is mostly about things that reappear, season in, season out, in cyclical fashion. Sometimes, however, there is a blip. My colleague Lynne Irons […]