Dawn Seymour is a garden coach, garden designer, freelance photographer and freelance gardener in the Central Ohio area. Dawn has instructed, installed, and inspired gardens in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and North Carolina for almost 20 years.

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Clever Crafting for Fall
by Dawn Seymour    

Ohio has had such a lovely fall this year! With the intense heat of this past summer and the lack of moisture, I was wondering if the leaves wouldn't just turn brown and fall off but alas, the cool evenings and bright sunshine have yielded a fall with vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red. My daughter commented the other morning that the trees were “losing their clothes” and I laughed at the whimsy in her vision. Later that day she asked me why it was so windy, as she tried to push her already unruly curls away from her face, and I explained that this was how God cleans house every year (which was not nearly as fun or whimsical as the trees losing their clothes!). As I cling to the last of the summer season, I look for ways to bring the garden inside. I do that in edible form as well as craft form.

Thanksgiving, or fall time, is when we change the kitchen linens and dishes and even pictures on the walls. The summer clothes are washed and neatly stored away while the sweaters are shaken out in anticipation of the chillier days. Even the farmer's markets are changing their presentations. Some of the vendors are cooking samples of bratwurst or sausages, the farmers are wearing their warm flannel shirts, and the tables are littered with fall selections of kale, leeks, squash and pumpkins. More and more the selection of squash and pumpkin expands as each year more heirlooms are presented at the market. I love the peanut squash that looks almost pink with peanut colored and shaped ”warts” all over the skin. It is a delicious squash and appealing in the tablescapes or porch displays. Hubbard squash is another I love to both eat and use for decoration. The pumpkin is the old reliable, of course, for creating Jack-o-lanterns and other fall-spirited crafts. So with the plethora of tools available at the end of the season for crafting, as well as the spirit of holiday entertaining upon us, I have a few ideas for you. Some are simple enough that my 3-year-old can help with and others can get a little more complex for the Martha Stewart in you. 

What To Save


The gardens and surrounding areas have plenty to offer for the crafter in fall.

Keep supplies organized for getting into and out of projects faster. This also makes it easier for the little hands who want to help.

Let me start with the flowers that I love to keep for crafting.

My fall staples all grow in my yard and include hydrangeas, sedum, butterfly weed or milkweed pods (Asclepias spp.), blue globe thistle heads (Echinops spp.), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Echinacea spp., and several of the grass inflorescences. I also select from various evergreens like blue spruce (Picea pungens), boxwood (Buxus spp.), white pine (Pinus strobus), arborvitae (Thuja spp.) and cedar (Cedrus spp.). Done at the right time, you can preserve colorful fall leaves before they start turning brown. Decorations for fall can be as simple as gathering together a cluster of grasses and tying them with a festive ribbon or simple twine.

We have some lovely folk-style vases that hold grasses in different spots of the house as well. Hydrangeas can be cut before they are frost-damaged too heavily and set in a vase and let to air dry for use later. Sedum and amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) heads are another that can be dried upright in a vase with no water to preserve the color. Any of these can be dried in small bunches upside down in an area with good air circulation but not direct sunlight as well. The one thing to keep in mind is that after your items have dried, they are very brittle.

Next, try using some of the seeds that are left over from the season.

The seeds you choose can vary from dill seeds, to beans, to sunflower seeds, to pine cone seeds. I take a bunch of seeds from flowers and vegetable alike and allow them to dry either on the plant (which I like the best but sometimes you compete with the wildlife for them) or in a sunlight-free area and then store them in ice cube trays so I have a great selection all organized in front of me. For a simple project, I will draw a simple flower and then fill it in with seeds, which is great for little hands to help with and great for doing place cards, thank-you notes or even invitations.

For a more complex project, you can lay the seeds out to create a shadow box picture to hang on the wall or give as a gift. It is easier to handle the more delicate seeds with tweezers rather than trying to place them by hand. 


Seeds let the true artist in you come out. Fun and creative for all ages during cooler weather.

For The Table

As I mentioned before, there is more to squashes than just Jack-o-lanterns and leaving them on the front porch. A pumpkin or squash can be turned into a simple fall planter by cutting an opening, cleaning out the seeds, and then either inserting a plastic pot for your plants or filling the item with potting soil. There are fall pansies, mums, kale, and even coral bells that will make a beautiful, textured planter.

Another idea is a table centerpiece. Cut out the top of your selected squash or pumpkin and clean it out. Use a piece of floral foam, not wet down, and stick it inside your vessel. Allow yourself the feeling of freedom, like a floral designer has, to use whatever you wish for your centerpiece. Try pine cones, evergreens, grasses, coral bell leaves, maple leaves, yarrow, Echinacea spp., Agastache spp., hickory nuts, acorns, and the list can go on. I use the thick stalks from grasses as floral picks to wire pine cones to so I don't have to buy them.

Lastly, for the buffet table, take an acorn squash or pie pumpkin and cut an opening large enough for a small bowl. Make sure that the squash-and-bowl will be able to sit flat on the table. You may need to shave off a piece on the bottom end so it will be stable. Mix up a delicious dipping sauce to put in the small dipping bowl. Surround your serving container with colorful sweet peppers, cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery, crackers or other appetizers to dip.


Pumpkin centerpieces are fun and easy and really brighten up the house for the fall season.

Little Hands

These projects allow you to get outside and share nature with your children, talk about texture and how the plants are changing to get ready for winter. Teach them what animals eat during the winter when there are no grasses or fruits. It also teaches creativity and appreciation for what they can create themselves rather than running to the store for this or that.

So don't let the change of seasons get you down. Hopefully this inspires you to get creative and make your space a place to remember this fall season. Dig in and have fun creating indoors with what you have left outdoors.


Utilize the grapevines around the woods or even out of your own garden to make wreath frames.
 

Herb wreaths are a nice way to display and store herbs for use in the kitchen as well as a scented gift. Herbs can be used right off the wreath itself.

Photos courtesy of Dawn Seymour.

 

Posted: 11/18/12   RSS | Print

 

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