This type of piece could have been left as pure applique, and I considered that. I stalled yesterday and spent some time cutting out leaves.
After a night where I finally decided how finished I was going to make this piece, I dove in the AM.
I started with the smaller trees on the left. They had very clear marking that I could enhance with thread.The idea is to intensifiy their appearance and not draw attention to any one spot.
I eventually used three different shades of grey and then feeling confident, I jumped to the other side of the tree and the piece and added some beige/cream. You have to go very slow with this to maintain balance. If you add too much in one place, then it means more work on the whole piece. I then jumped to the bigger less dramatic colored trees and only worked as far as was necessary to start adding leaves.
(Actually I needed a break form the trunks).
This really start to bring this piece to life.