November 25, 2013
Fall Floral Centerpieces
Last weekend I made several centerpieces for a dinner at our church. Unfortunately there were no flowers left in my garden to contribute, so I bought orange roses at the grocery store instead. Though similar in color and shading, these roses weren't as pretty as the orange blooms on my 'Lady Emma Hamilton' English rose bush, and they didn't smell nearly as good. But we do what we must in winter.
I put together the first arrangement the day before the dinner, and it turned out awful. The colors just didn't work together. After panicking a bit then thinking for a while longer, I realized that the orange roses would look best with darker foliage to set them off. Amazingly, my 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle vine offered fresh stems of greenery despite the 20 degree F temperatures. You can see some of the stems arching over the flowers above. I also used larger leaves from lower on the vine to add purple foliage to the base of the arrangement. And then the colors worked. Phew.
I foraged in the gardens of several friends to find interesting fall additions. My favorites were the seed pods from my friend Alvina's ancient tree peony. Note to self - don't deadhead my tree peonies (once they ever start blooming) so they'll create these wonderful seed pods by fall.
I also included brown spore-bearing Ostrich fern fronds like the one above. I secured the flowers and foliage in floral foam to allow more control over their placement.
The 'Blue Boy' holly shrubs at the temple had a few untidy-looking stems that needed to be pruned off anyway, so I did the job and saved the holly to put in the arrangements. The dark, shiny holly leaves contrasted well with the pale seeded eucalyptus that I purchased along with the roses. I also made use of greenery from my evergreen 'Otto Luyken' laurel shrubs.
A few protected leaves from my 'Big Blue' lilyturf (Liriope) were still vibrant green, so I used floral tape to secure them into loops and tucked them into the arrangements. I'm wondering if I could do something similar with the wiry maroon stems of my dwarf Arctic willow. I'm filing that idea away for future use.
The photo above shows one of the honeysuckle stems next to a seed head from black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia). These unusual additions added some wildness to the otherwise staid arrangements.
And here is a final shot of one of the centerpieces. It was fun to rack my brain for creative fall textures to go with the roses. I gathered birch catkins, Miscanthus seedheads, brown hydrangea clusters, and a few other fallish ingredients that didn't make it into these arrangements, but I'll look for an opportunity to use them some other time.