Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Make A Beautiful Fall Arrangement

Is there anything more representative of fall than pumpkins?  Pumpkins = jack o lanterns in our minds.    Pumpkin carving has become an amazing seasonal art form.  But - pumpkins don't last very long.   They get smelly and shriveled and yucky.  Now, they are making these very realistic artificial pumpkins that can be used throughout the autumn season.  You may not know this, but they are hollow just like a real pumpkins and can be carved or used to make autumn arrangements in!  Or, you can set them in groupings  on your mantle or tables and they won't get all yucky and you can use them year after year.

Fresh flower arrangements in pumpkins are so lovely and will last as long as an average fresh flower arrangement - up to 7 days if properly taken care of and watered.  You know my love for fresh flowers, but I wanted something to sit on the table by the fireplace that would last through the Thanksgiving season.  Hence, the arrangement in the picture above.  Michael's has their artificial pumpkins on sale for 1/2 price so I splurged and bought one.  I had some artificial fall leaves, cattails, flowers and wheat that I planned to use in it.  This is a tutorial to show you how you can make a professional looking arrangement for your home.  It can be done on any scale to suit your need.  I wanted one that was fairly tall to fill up the corner in the living room.

There is a method used in floral arranging to get  proper scale and professional results.  For this arrangement, I wanted a round design.  In the shop, we called these "roundy moundies" and were the most common arrangement for centerpieces for tables.  They are not hard to do once you understand the process used.  For this arrangement I used one stem of japanese lantern, two cattail bushes, two fall leaf bushes, two mum bushes, and one package of wheat.

First, I placed the block of dry foam that I was going to use on the top of the pumpkin to get a measurement for the hole I was going to cut.  I wanted the foam to fit right inside the hole with little or no movement so I didn't have to anchor the foam to the pumpkin.  There are special tapes to do this with, but this is much easier.  After marking the area I would need to cut, I used a sharp knife (actually, one of our steak knives - don't tell) to cut the top out of the pumpkin.  You will have to make up and down cuts just like with a real pumpkin.

Remove the top and place the block of dry foam inside the pumpkin.  I call this dry foam, because wet foam is used for fresh flower arrangements.  You may have to shave the sides of the foam with the knife to get it to fit in the hole.  Square foam, round hole.  Just shave it a bit at a time so it doesn't end up too loose.

Next, you want to set the line for the height of the arrangement which should be at least the same height as the container or higher.  Mine is at least two times taller than the pumpkin.  I used a stem of japanese lantern to do this.  Since these are artificial, I broke the stem down using wire cutters, leaving the longest piece to go in the center of the foam.  The other pieces should surround the center at east, west, north and south.   Place them close to the center stem at varying heights.
Next, I used the cattails and placed them around the base of the foam at north, south, east and west, and then filled in between the base of the foam and the japanese lantern with more cattails so there is a symmetry and "fullness" beginning to the arrangement.  You will want to place these stems at northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest.  Make sure to cut the stems different lengths so the cattails are different heights to give the arrangement interest and depth.
Next, I used the fall leaves and mums to fill in between the cattails and the japanese lantern.  Use the same procedure and fill in at different heights and around the entire block of foam.  Because the wheat is real and the stems break easily, make them the last step when completing the arrangement.  Make one or two stalks of wheat tall and place them near the center of the arrangement.  Place one stalk at east, west, north and south and fill in the rest of the arrangement placing stalks of wheat all around the arrangement. Then, take the top of the pumpkin that you cut out of the middle and place a bamboo skewer in the middle of the underside by pushing it into the foam.  Put some hot glue around it to hold it in place.  
Now, take the pumpkin top with the skewer attached and place it into the finished arrangement.  
Wow, you now have a beautiful arrangement that will last through the entire autumn season.  How pretty is that?

Remember, I have been doing floral arranging for 30 years and it doesn't take me that long to put an arrangement together.  My goal is to show you the principles of arranging so that you can make professional looking arrangements.  Like anything else, it takes practice and patience.  Remember to always cut your stems longer than you think you will need them to be - you can always cut them off if they are too long.  The other most important thing is to have a really good pair of wire cutters to use.  That will make the whole process easier.  Now, go make yourself an arrangement to enjoy.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."-   Edwin Way Teale

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