ISSUE 39  |  Fall Foliage

DIY Floral Arrangement: Smoke Bush and Queen Anne’s Lace

October 02, 2015 1:30 PM

BY Sophia Moreno-Bunge

Smoke bush embraces the dark and saturated colors that autumn brings.

For an early autumn arrangement, I made a moody, purple moment with smoke bush, figs, and Queen Anne’s Lace. For a list of materials and step-by-step instructions, see below:

Photography by Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.


Above: Smoke bush leaf colors range from purple to maroon to green (though the green often has notes of maroon). In late spring, the tips of the branches start to bloom textured puffs that look like smoke. Hence the name.


  • Queen Anne’s Lace, one bunch
  • Figs on the branch
  • Smoke bush branches
  • Clippers
  • Tapered vase


Above: I love the back of the smoke bush leaf; it almost has an opalescent quality.


Above: A dark and moody Queen Anne’s Lace.

Because I never want summer to end, ever, I included another of my favorites, Queen Anne’s Lace, which makes me think of high summer: road trips, beach days, and lounging in the park. You can find these beauties growing everywhere–at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, or in a street crack in Brooklyn.


Above: I love the shape of these; they’re wild and have that find-them-on-the-side-of-the-road beauty, but if you look closely, they’re so geometric and orderly (like all plants, really).


Above: Base of figs on the branch.

First, I filled a vase with water and made a base using the fig branches. I tried to use the natural shape of the branches, and created a structure that reminds me of a fan. I cut each stem at a diagonal and made sure each one sat on the bottom of the vase.


Above: The branches are heavy, so make sure to space them evenly on either side of the vase to prevent it from tipping.

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Above: The smoke bush colors, separated.

Next, I concentrated the green smoke bush on one side and the darker maroon on the other. Smoke bush can be finicky, so I cut the stems at a diagonal, and then cut and split the tip in two (to give it more surface to take in water).


Above: I kept the smoke bush a bit lower than the fig to create air and so that the figs still would be visible. I like to see negative space between the different stems and branches.


Above: As a finishing touch, I added a cluster of the Queen Anne’s Lace to the left side and let it trail down the arrangement to the right side.


Above: Done! Less is more, here.

If you’re as enamored of smoke bush as we are, see another of our favorite ways to use it indoors at Unexpected Autumnal Arrangements.