This fall, be inspired by the awesome beauty of nature. Flowers get all the glory, but foliage can be just as showy. When the two combine, they become a dynamic duo.
Fun With Foliage
Before our eyes, many summery green leaves transform into autumn-hued jewels. With a sharp pair of clippers, you can snip a few of these showy limbs to build a pretty arrangement. Make your cuts in early morning, and quickly submerge the cut ends in water. Prune trees as you make your selections. Remove any limbs that hang too low or obstruct views, walkways, or drives. Trees with good color include Japanese maple, other maples, sweet gum, pistachio, sassafras, and sumac.
For many annuals and perennials, autumn is the last hurrah. They begin to bloom their heads off because they know they will soon be gone with the arrival of cold weather. For our arrangement, we selected pineapple sage (Salvia elegans); forsythia sage (S. madrensis); and 'Anthony Parker,' a cross between S. leucantha and S. elegans. Try other fall bloomers such as swamp sunflowers, chrysanthemums, asters, dahlias, sedums, and goldenrods.
Don't Forget Fruit
At this time of year, many trees and shrubs begin to reveal bright berries that add wonderful colors and textures to arrangements. We tucked shiny doublefile viburnum berries in a container for a touch of red. Nandina, pyracantha, beautyberry, and holly are other common, easy-to-grow plants that produce bunches of pretty berries.
Pick a vase that reflects the season. Be creative, and use salvaged items such as old watering pails, glass jars, or rusty metal urns. Or spray-paint a tin can to complement the color of the foliage or flowers for an easy vase.
The size of your arrangement should be in proportion with that of your container. Make a tabletop bouquet short to avoid blocking the views of dinner guests. A tall, upright vase or container can be used on a buffet to display a large arrangement. No matter how big or small your creation, set the mood using autumn's treasures.
When making an arrangement, place the woody tree branches in the container first, and then work your blooms around the branches. The rigid branches will help support the delicate flower stems.
"Cut-and Stick Arrangements for Autumn" is from the October 2006 issue of Southern Living.