|From the fall garden|
The frost is on the pumpkin and the last blooms of summer have faded. You still have time, though, to bring a little bit of the garden inside. Use dried flowers, ornamental grasses, colorful leaves and seed heads from your border to make a long-lasting bouquet.
Hydrangeas, of course, are the most obvious choice. These work best if you plan ahead. Cut them in September, strip off most of the leaves and put them in a vase. Add water once and only once. Let the water evaporate and the flower will dry out slowly. If your hydrangeas are still on the shrub, don't despair. These will be a bit more brown, but they can still be used.
Ornamental grasses also are a must-have. While almost any variety will do, I'm especially partial to switch grass (panicum virgatum) because of its light and airy seed heads plus the thin narrow leaves. Prairie dropseed (sporobolis heterolepsis) also is a good option.
Other than that, let your imagination run wild. Anything that you might cut as part of a fall clean up is a possibility. In the bouquet shown above, I've used stems of cone flowers, sedum, ornamental oregano, perennial geraniums, panicum, veronicastrum and Queen Anne's lace as well as leaves from spireas, maples and abelias. Other candidates that may be in your garden include rose hips, black-eyed Susans, yarrow, clematis and grapevines.
Once the colorful foliage fades, consider replacing it with lotus pods, curly willow, bittersweet vine or even floral picks with some fresh flowers in them. Ribbons or raffia tied around the container can dress it up when company comes.
Don't fuss over the arrangement too much, though. The purpose of a fall bouquet is to celebrate this past year's garden. Enjoy!
(If you want to see where the phrase "the frost is on the pumpkin" originated, click here.)
By Karen Geisler