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How to Create Beautiful Arrangements Using Autumn Leaves and Hydrangeas

You might be surprised by how lively and beautiful a variety of autumn leaves can be when paired with…yes, pink hydrangea blossoms!  My favorite autumn leaf is the vivid red of the maple leaves, but the green oak leaves provide a pleasant, subtle background for the pink hydrangeas.  The yellow tones and reddish brown tones of the leaf varieties seem to shout “autumn is really here!”  It’s always a treat to see what the farmer’s market has as the seasons change.  I’m looking forward to pumpkins and gourds, then winter evergreens.

However the challenge at hand is to stay in the moment and share floral design tips for arranging fall leaves.  I have chosen two distinctly different containers to show how the character of each container changes the overall “feel” of the finished arrangements.

One is a narrow, but somewhat long willow basket and the other is a small thick glass ice bucket.  The willow basket lends a casual feel to the finished arrangement and the ice bucket lends an elegant feel.  Maybe you’ll want to try both?

Although they are “just leaves,” it’s still important to hydrate the leaf stems by cutting the ends of stems under warm water with a pair of floral clippers.  You may already know how important this process is for flower stems, but it’s equally important for hydrating woody stems.  Let the flowers and leaf stems sit in the water for a minimum of 30 minutes to insure complete hydration.

So let’s start with the willow basket arrangement.  The empty basket is 12.5″ long, 4″ wide, and 5″ deep.  It does not have a liner, so I improvised with three small glass jam jars that fit perfectly inside the basket.  It was actually easier to work with the three jars, because each jar supported its own share of stems.

The focal point of the willow basket arrangement is the largest pink hydrangea. The multiple varieties of fall leaves form the outer edges of the basket arrangement. The finished height of the basket with flowers and leaves is 12″.  The finished width is 19.5″.  The finished arrangement has 4 pink hydrangeas and 5 stems of foliage in a variety of colors.  It is styled to be viewed from the front only. Wouldn’t it look lovely on a mantle?

Moving on to the ice bucket.  The ice bucket has a special meaning to me!  My husband brought it to me as a surprise gift when he returned from a business trip to Chicago where he stayed at the Sofitel Hotel.  I always handle it carefully because of its sentimental importance.

The empty ice bucket measures 5″ tall and 5.25″ in diameter.  It also holds 4 pink hydrangeas, but slightly fewer stems of fall leaves.  It’s easy to create a great look by lining the glass bucket with a variety of the fall leaves, so that the stems of the flowers don’t show through the glass. The finished height of the ice bucket arrangement is 10.5″ and the finished width of the ice bucket arrangement is 11″.  The ice bucket arrangement is meant to be viewed from all around.  Perhaps you have seen this look used at parties or events where multiple centerpieces are needed.  It’s a very popular look for wedding receptions.  Please find a container that you really like and try your hand at an arrangement of hydrangeas and autumn leaves!

In closing, I would like to share a quote with you that I found in an autumn issue, 2012 of Autumn Cottage:

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
-Albert Camus

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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