Megan Margaret Oost
The concept of urban foraging was revealed to me by a florist friend. We first walked around her garden in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, then we sought out the fringes of abandoned parking lots to pick branches, sprigs, and blooms, quickly shoving the botanical contraband into canvas totes as we strolled.
We were left with a rustic assortment that channeled the romance of artfully unpruned English gardens. Visually, the comparison of our cache to grocery-store stems felt something like fresh cranberries chopped up with sugar and lemon rind next to cranberry sauce out of a can.
The insight here was simple: there’s unexpected color and texture everywhere, hiding within plain sight, in every season. Endless beauty surrounds us, growing abundantly. The final stage of foliage is often the most vibrant. Dogwood leaves glow crimson, Japanese maples quake between mustard yellow and ruddy red, and weeping birch trees turn golden like vermeil baubles. I look for unexpected color relationships and a mix of stem widths for a rich, layered look.
The sculptural arcs of a few isolated branches can be surprisingly impactful. I rearrange, add, and edit until I arrive at combinations that feel unexpected, elusive, wild, and elegantly composed.