Fall Decorations Using Natives

Fall is my favorite season.  Not only does the air have a brisk feel and the colors of the land are morphing into their low-light state, but the opportunity for making autumn decorations is almost endless.  I love using the natural materials around me to create displays, table arrangements, or fall accents throughout our home. 

While living in Nebraska we had access to cornstalks, smooth sumac, goldenrod, bittersweet, pumpkins, hay bales, and feathers.  My boys and I would take their big wagon down to the cornfield with a pair of trimmers and slice off a dozen dried stalks from the last row of the field.  After bringing them home we would stand them up on the corner post of our deck.  Using jute twine to tie the stalks to the post seemed to work best as it weathered fine and blended in well.  At that point we could pull the wagon around the property gathering the remainder of our materials.  We layered first by sticking in the goldenrod; then onto the sumac, bittersweet, and turkey feathers.  Once the bales were set in front we could stack the pumpkins.  To this point the entire display cost nothing.  As the season moved along we added items we purchased at the local market like gourds and Indian corn.  The display itself was dynamic in that the goldenrod dried turning from yellow to a powdery white.  The corn was raided by squirrels that left bits along the way.  Mice also got in on the fun by nibbling the pumpkins.  I enjoyed watching the changes each day as we all enjoyed fall.

Inside I put together a harvest basket.  I used a round handmade basket to placed our canned goods; applesauce, pears, tomato sauce, jelly, and pickles.  Scattered among the jars were dried beans, Japanese lantern seed pods and burlap.  This centerpiece sat atop an old woodstove in the corner of our dining room.  I was proud of the work that had gone into the basket.  That pride apparently did not translate into picture taking because there is no one to be found! 

Now in Kansas the landscape has changed so now we use milo stalks tied onto each porch post.  I then tie a non-obtrusive fall colored ribbon to finish the bundle.  At the base of each post my sons and I place a couple of deer antlers.  We love searching the nearby fields for dropped antlers; it’s like a scavenger hunt.  Next, I stack around hedge apples, gourds, and pumpkins.  Since hedge rows preceded barbed wire there are plenty of mature trees bordering fields.  An additional perk may be a cricket deterrent.  Honestly, I do not know the validity of this statement, but it’s worth a shot.  The native gourds in this area are small, green and yellow striped spheres.  This combination makes for a neat harvest of nature’s bounty.  I just find it fun to look around to see what I can gather and turn into an eye-catching display.  These become unique and site specific creation to enjoy for months.

Published on Sep 29, 2013

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!