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A Bountiful Harvest

Autumn is traditionally thought of as the harvest season. Our own gardens are a wonderful source of floral materials for fall décor.

In past years, I’ve had great fun growing mini pumpkins. These are so perfect for so many designs. Wee-B-Little is a great variety, and it is easy enough to set aside enough space in the vegetable garden for several pumpkin plants. When done properly, even the large ones are suitable for fall-related designs. Of the large varieties, different ones are intended for decorating. Seed catalogs often specify the intended use. Painting and etching pumpkins are two classy ways to decorate, and are a far cry from the old-fashioned jack-o-lantern. Use a pumpkin preserver on your decorated pumpkin as a final touch. This will keep them looking fresh much longer.

Of other garden items for fall decorations, ornamental corns and gourds are commonly used. Even ordinary dried ears of field corn can look festive if the ears are tied together to create an attractive bunch. For making decorative brooms, a special type of plant, called broomcorn (actually a type of sorghum) is used.

Thompson & Morgan sells a very attractive, variegated ornamental corn, Quadricolor, which is ideal for autumn floral designs. Most every part of this plant is colorful. The foliage, silks, and mini corn ears are purple-tinged.

An autumn without scarecrows would seem bleak. There are so many garden materials from which these whimsical characters can be constructed. Top these off with a straw hat decorated with small, dried sunflowers or other dried florals. Miniature ones are just wonderful for adding to fall designs. For the limbs of a sitting scarecrow, string small clay pots together, and stuff dried grass between the pots.

Of the everlastings, fruits, and herbs, there are so many ways these can be used for displays. An ideal way is harvest wreaths, in which you can use many materials from mini pumpkins to colorful autumn leaves. Display a wreath above the mantle.

When it comes to using dried flowers and herbs, it pays to think outside the box. They can be made into different everlasting creations, including pomanders, potpourri, and even homemade soaps. The ultimate guide to soapmaking is “The Everything Soapmaking Book” by Alicia Grosso from Adams Media. Like all the titles in this series, this one provides complete, easy to follow instructions. The author tells how to incorporate herbs for delightfully fragrant, beautiful handmade soaps for friends, family, and yourself.

If you are giving handmade soaps as gifts, the easiest way to package them is to tie them up in colorful, inexpensive netting available at fabric shops. Secure the netting in place with a piece of raffia. Attach a sprig of dried flowers. Then, you have a lovely package ready for giving.

One of my favorite uses for herbs and flowers continues to be handmade paper from the garden. The finished material has many practical uses, such as lamp shades and decorative boxes. ”The Gourmet Paper Maker-Handmade Paper From Fruits and Vegetables” by Ellaraine Lockie from Creative Publishing International features over a hundred different paper recipes. If you thought cornhusks were only suitable for making cornhusk dolls, reconsider. Check out the wonderful cornhusk recipes featured in this wonderful reference. The author also gives different recipes on how flowers and other florals can be used to decorate paper.

In a similar vein, “Arnold Grummer’s Complete Guide to Paper Casting” by Arnold and Mabel Grummer from Krause Publications explains various ways in which flowers and other floral material can be used to enhance the beauty of paper-cast objects. One method the authors recommend is imbedding flowers and botanicals in the pulp. Learn from the pros, for Arnold Grummer has devoted much of his life to discovering the beauty of handmade paper objects, and has shared what he learned with readers. This inspiring book guides you through every step of the process—from choosing and preparing materials to making unique items. It also features some projects from famous, well-known paper artists.

Whether you decorate with Wee-B-Little pumpkins, or create wreaths of garden herbs and flowers, the autumn is a time of bountiful harvest.

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