To continue the floral craft series in Country Living magazine, my second seasonal project is featured in their October issue. To celebrate the autumn bounty with this wonderful, colourful project, and in case anyone missed it but would like to have a go, will find step-by-step instructions below. I hope you all have a wonderful autumn!
As the growing season is coming to its high point, our thoughts turn to picking, gathering and making the most of nature’s bounty, as well as our hard work throughout the year. With the temperature dropping, days shortening, plant growth slows down and our sense of urgency dissipates. It is time to pause and admire the full-blown glory of late summer and celebrate the turning of the seasons with an autumn project, capturing the feel of abundance surrounding us this time of year.
Wild and cultivated plants
With the hedgerows laden with bright, ripe berries and plenty of richly coloured foliages around, each selection can really reflect the varied shapes, colours and textures of the local landscape. Hawthorn and sloe berries, rosehips, Sorbus, Cotoneaster, Viburnum, Ilex and Photinia with their good range of colourful fruit are all suited for floral displays.
Unexpected seasonal ingredients from the garden or vegetable plot, such as bolting brassica plants, kale leaves, herbs, fruit and flowers look great in autumn arrangements. Many edibles are also very decorative, making them excellent multipurpose plants. One of my favourites in the vegetable garden is red orach (Atriplex hortensis rubra). Its young leaves can be added to salads and when mature it makes a tall architectural foliage plant with racemes of tiny flowers, often used in floristry. Later in the year use its dry seedpods to decorate with. Ferns, tawny grasses, dried flowers and seed heads will create a muted background and wonderfully offset the rich reds and purples of the irresistible jewel-like colours of dahlias.
Making an Autumn Wreath
Create a natural wreath base by twisting long bendy, leafless stems of wisteria, willow, dogwood (or similar) into a circle for foraged ingredients, check what is available to collect on your walks around your local area. I used a selection of wild red crabapple branches (similar to Malus robusta “Red Sentinel”), ornamental grape vine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), native hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) branches with their dark sloe berries. Arrange 3-4 stems of each together with a few dried fern leaves in a semi circle onto the wreath base and secure with wire or twine. Add home grown produce from your garden or allotment: I picked hops, purple perilla, dill flowers, flowering stems of chard and seedpods of red roach and rocket. These will create another layer of interesting texture for that abundant autumn feel, add brightly coloured dahlias, artichoke heads, mini pumpkins or other small but painterly vegetables and fresh or dried hydrangea flowers. The stems of these can be inserted through the wreath. Use wire or twine to fix them into place. To prolong the life of your fresh blooms, insert their stems into small plastic tubes filled with water when attaching them to the wreath.
All the images were taken by the wonderful Eva Nemeth. Eva is an expert on plant and garden photography and I love working with her. She also runs short workshops in flat lay and garden photography, please find details on her website above. If you would like to book an upcoming floral craft workshop with us, we have dates for festive winter wreath making workshops where we will use seasonal pickings, wonderful foliages and natural ingredients to make a long lasting wreath.