Serendipity occurs when you discover something you weren’t looking for. Follow me here and I’ll lead you through a tale not too far from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

I bought a metal plant container at an estate sale because I wanted to practice my two-color painting technique. I covered it in Annie Sloan Paris Grey and then covered that in Old White. I distressed it by sanding parts of the raised design on the container. I finished it off with wax.


It looked good to me but I needed something to put in it. So I started looking at blogs and Facebook pages. Preserved boxwood offered me the answer. Because it’s preserved, I won’t have to water it and it’ll last a good while. It’s green. It’s popular. It’s perfect. Here’s Restoration Hardware’s photo of some of their preserved boxwoods:


Wait a minute. Preserved boxwood is not inexpensive. But — and this is where serendipity comes in — I had six boxwood bushes in need of pruning just steps from my front door. I returned to studying online tutorials, this time focusing on preserving boxwood. I combined the instructions provided by Crafting Rebellion and WikiHow.

I bought three random items suitable for a scavenger hunt. Hobby Lobby had an 8-oz. bottle of glycerin in their soap-making section. Over at my grocery store, I gave a stockboy an assignment. Now, I regularly shop at Publix and have no qualms dispatching enthusiastic young men to find obscure items. The mission this time: find citric acid. He had to ask a few people but returned with Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector. “My manager says this is citric acid,” he announced. Well done. The most problematic item was Absorbit green floral dye. Not fabric dye. Floral dye. I called around with no success and decided to order it online from Direct Floral.

On to the process: Mix the items with water and pour the solution into a couple of containers. I used a glass vase a a shorter plastic container. Insert the stems that my son had clipped and smashed with a hammer, and we’re ready to wait a week or so until the liquid is absorbed. Wait another week or more until they’re dried. I’m less certain about these steps because I only have reached the absorption stage. Once they’re dry I’ll get a brick of floral foam and pop in my boxwood.


My enthusiasm led me to buy another container — all brass — the day I mixed the solution. It came from a Thrift Store by way of India. I tried to get a discount because of the heavy spotting and tarnish. No deal. But I took it home and scrubbed it with lemon juice and salt, over and over. Next I switched to a paste of vinegar, flour and salt and let that sit. After rinsing off the smelly stuff I decided that was enough polishing. I’d paint it using my two-paint distressed technique. Yes, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint adheres to metal. I put Paris Grey on the inside, with the outside a combo on Antibes, Old White, and Louis Blue. I plan to make a ball or a semi-circle of boxwood for this container, either with the remaining batch now soaking or another batch.


I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any experience preserving boxwoods, let me know your secrets.

Preserving Boxwood, Part 2 is here.

Elizabeth and Co.Wonderful at Home

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0 comment on How To Preserve Boxwood – Part 1

  1. Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door
    December 14, 2013 at 5:01 am (8 years ago)

    I love the look of boxwood and would LOVE to try this technique. So sadly I don’t have any in my yard so I’ll have to find a neighbor who’ll let me steal some. 🙂 I love how you said the items needed was worth of a scavenger hunt! That is so true! LOL!

    • irisabbey
      December 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm (8 years ago)

      I checked my cuttings yesterday and saw how the dye is causing the leaves so be a bit brighter. Sadly, I lost a few very small cuttings that weren’t properly sitting in the solution — but there’s plenty where they came from. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Yuko Jones
    December 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm (8 years ago)

    Ohhh you have boxwood bushes in your yard – so lucky! Looking forward to seeing the update on the project! ox

    • irisabbey
      December 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks for stopping by, Yuko. I saw that your Trumeau mirror was featured on one of the blogs. Congrats!

  3. Cindy
    December 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm (8 years ago)

    Can’t wait to see how this turns out! Love your painted bowl, very pretty! Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
    Merry Christmas…


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