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Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course): A Time of Transition


At this time of year, I love to pick up bright, beautiful falling leaves and press them in books or between stacks of magazines until they are dry.  Most of them will retain their bright color when dry.

Some that I have collected have sentimental value…like the ones I collected from the grounds of Sagamore Hill on Long Island while enjoying a walk with my then, very energetic Wire Fox Terrier.  Those leaves will be left in the book where they were pressed almost twenty years ago!  I will use other leaves that have dried well and retained good color as accents…under the edges of pumpkins or maybe in a cornucopia for Thanksgiving.

Officially fall lasts from late September until late December.  However, my own internal calendar will always perceive the season of fall as September, October, and November—not before and not after.  I can’t bear to think about December as “autumn”!

When the 1st of December rolls around, for me it’s time to think about Christmas trees and ornaments and evergreen wreaths…no more fall décor for me.

Of course, as a florist I understood that it was necessary to display Christmas items much earlier than December 1st so that customers could meet their personal deadlines for holiday decorating.

Although you probably have fall or even Halloween décor in place right now, it’s not too early to think about how you will transition to a Thanksgiving “feel” (when the time is right for you).  If you’d like to use pumpkins as part of your décor, now is the time to buy them and store them in your fridge.  Vendors will likely be sold out if you wait much longer!


I would argue that the most iconic option for Thanksgiving décor is the cornucopia, also known as a “horn of plenty.”  Today’s horn-shaped cornucopias are usually woven of wicker, twigs, or grasses.  They most likely have a lip at the base of the opening that holds a plastic tray intended to hold a piece of floral foam.

The floral foam will need to be secured to the tray with tape or wire.  You can then stick stems of fall materials into the foam to hold them place.  Small pumpkins will need a floral pick (usually wooden) that pierces the pumpkin on one end. Basically, the pick gives it a stem to anchor it to the foam.  Use this same technique with faux apples or small real apples.

The picks will most likely have thin wires attached that are used to bundle dried leaves or wheat stems.  Other materials that you may find appropriate for your cornucopia are bittersweet or dried safflower.  You can also add fresh flowers, especially for the Thanksgiving meal.  Be sure to use water tubes for the fresh flowers.  Coordinating mini-centerpieces in small terra cotta pots are great for additional tables if you need to accommodate extra guests.  Just be sure to line the pots with a plastic liner or cellophane before adding the floral foam and water!

I have almost enough brightly colored dried leaves that have already fallen (from water-starved trees) to make a beautiful Thanksgiving cornucopia this year!

Posted By: Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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