I have a thing about bark. It started when our sons demonstrated the unique flammability of birch bark after their first summer at camp: http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/YellowBirch_070320.htm.
That sparked an effort to incorporate the texture of bark into ceramics work using a woodgraining tool and layered glazes. Next I started building Faux Bois pots, filling them with Paper Whites and moss. One December we planted them to accent a beautiful birch branch harvested from the woods for a “Woodland” Christmas centerpiece. Inspired by “10 x 10”, an annual art show in Portland, Maine (http://www.maineartscene.com/Maine-Art-Headlines/2011-10-x10-Show-in-Portland.html), the pots turned into 10″ x 10″ “box” houses for hand built ceramic birds.
It’s spring in Maine which means that the woods are ripe with downed birch bark “sleeves”, the centers of which have softened enough during “mud season” to be pushed out, leaving beautiful birch cylinders. These can be slid over glass containers filled with pebbles (at the bottom to help prevent the feet of the plants from getting soaking wet) and soil in which one can plant early spring flowers. Skillins in Falmouth has nice variety; select 3-5 small potted plants that work with the color scheme you have in mind, taking care to include on for each pot that will trail over the edge of the bark.
These arrangements are perfect for early spring table settings. The plants, with the exception of exotics like violets and orchids, can be transferred outside after the risk of frost is over.
Enjoy this calorie free creative enterprise! (P.S. if the downed limbs are in someone else’s woods, ask before taking.)