ISSUE 94  |  October Moon

No Harvest Colors, Please: Unexpected Autumnal Arrangements

October 16, 2013 2:00 PM

BY Lindsey Taylor

I love a floral challenge. For a recent event at Freemans restaurant in New York, I was hired to do flowers with a simple request–”harvest without harvest colors.” The dark moody interior of the restaurant is a perfect backdrop for lighter tones, so I was excited to come up with all the feel of autumn without the expected colors.

Photographs by Don Freeman.

I started dreaming up what would be right seasonally. That’s important to me. Being a gardener, I’m guided by the seasonality of flowers. It was late September and the arrangements needed to feel abundant, festive, and elegant, but the flowers and foliage needed to be appropriate for the season.

For the vessels, I decided to use a recent favorite find from Jamali on 28th street in the Flower District–metal buckets with a patina wash in two different heights to be displayed around the room. (For a similar look, Copper Patina Tin Buckets are available in five sizes starting at $1.99 from Jamali Gardens.) I also used glass mason jars and tall glass bottles to line the center of the tables. For my palette I focused on white, green with hits of silver, burgundy, and dusty pink.

It’s always helpful to bring an artist friend on board to help. Kevin King was my trusty assistant, and his eye for color when it came time to edit my pile of flowers and foliage at the flower market was invaluable. The greens consisted of ivy, both seeded green and variegated. Two different types of eucalyptus leaves and seeds, olive branches, and snowberry branches helped bulk up the arrangements. (If you’d like to grow your own White Snowberry Bush, a 2-foot-tall shrub is $35.94 from Nature Hills.)

For a cascading effect, green amaranthus, jasmine for fragrance, and the last of the passionflower vine that we let dangle over the edge of the buckets and spill onto the tables. (Start Green Amaranthus, Love Lies Bleeding from seed next spring; a packet of 200 seeds is $3.95 from Burpee.)

For bold flowers, dahlias in white and dinner plate dahlias in dusty pink that they call café-au-lait felt right for the season. (If you want to grow your own next year, a bag of five Cafe-au-Lait Dahlia Bulbs is $19.99 from Eden Brothers.

A tight small hydrangea with beautiful tones of pink and light green caught my eye, and so a few stems where added to shift the texture. Dusty pink astilbe gave a spiky structure. I used astrantia in burgundy and soft pink and white lysmachia for its limp gesture. Silver came from the thistle that added a nice late season vibe. And deep burgundy hits came from smoke bush leaves and sedum flowers.

Don Freeman, a friend and wonderful photographer, graciously stopped by toward the end of our arranging to snap these beautiful photos, artfully showing off our efforts.

Hooked on floral arranging? Troll our archived posts on Floral Arranging for inspiration.