Tablescaping with Nature
A simple stroll through the backyard reveals a bounty of beauty for holiday arrangements
True naturalists and gardeners know that late fall and early winter are not impediments to enjoying the fruits of the outdoors, but rather, opportunities. Though the desire to dig deep into the soil might be delayed, there is simply no reason not to be creative with nature’s bounty. Materials for a perfect holiday tablescape or arrangement are only a stroll away through the backyard or neighboring woods. Complement these with locally grown greenhouse flowers (if you must) or a lingering garden pumpkin, and you will be surprised at how satisfying and beautiful a couple of clippings can be. The following images depict just a few possibilities for designing with nature, regardless of season.
No tablescape is complete without a bouquet. Here, nary a flower is needed to create a stunning example of late-season Nature at her finest. The wiry stems of a wild rose echo the free-flowing outdoors, while a gathering of clipped yews anchor the arrangement. Seedpods from echinacea and golden raintree provide interest, and chartreuse crabapples add a punch of color. Having a vintage vase completes the arrangement.
Mother Nature has bestowed a gift upon squirrels and designers this year with an abundance of acorns. To not use those in a table arrangement would seem wasteful. In the simple vignette above, all but the mini-pumpkins (and candles, of course) were foraged from nearby trees and shrubs. The design includes wild green rose hips, trimmings from a yew in need of pruning, pears and crabapples from a friend’s tree, and acorns, of course.
Be sure you carry the theme of your arrangement onto your table or vice versa. I like to select a color scheme first, then search out natural items to match the colors I have in mind. This season green, brown, and white spoke to me, but any color combination will suffice so long as you keep it simple. Take a walk, open your eyes, use your imagination, and watch the way a seemingly sleeping garden comes alive indoors.
The materials used in the tablescapes and arrangements here barely scratch the surface when it comes to the myriad others that reveal themselves during a slow walk on a brisk autumn day. Here are a few other items to consider for an arrangement or tablescape; the beauty of Nature is that she provides.*
• Bare branches, especially ones with interesting, sinewy shapes or a dangling cone
• Fruits of all types found on trees and shrubs-dogwoods, apples, pears, cherries, for example
• Viburnum and other berries in blues, reds, or oranges
• Evergreen leaves – gold or green cypress, pine, bo wood, arborvitae, and others. And don’t forget variegated varieties.
• Dried hydrangea and other flowers
• Perennial garden seed pods such as echinacea, black-eyed Susan, or sedum. Native clematis vines have interesting puffy seed heads, too.
• Cattails, milk pods, lotus, and other seed heads found in the wild
• Leafy evergreen or semi-evergreen perennials such as pachys andra, ajuga, ivy, coral bells, sage, or thyme
• Evergreen Christmas fern or the dried fronds of an ostrich fern
• Dried flower heads and blades of ornamental or native grasses
*Note it is never responsible to cut or otherwise procure materials from private property and it is preferable to use native plants. If you must use non-native or invasive plants with berries, for example, discard the berries in the trash when you are finished. Similarly, cut the leaves of plants you plan to use; never pull an entire plant from its location.