by Fionna Hill
Autumn is the season of the harvest. Last weekend in South Wairarapa, New Zealand, my nieces and I went roadside foraging. From the ground we gathered acorns, chestnuts, walnuts, spindle berries, beech nuts, cones and more. And to follow when we came home we put together appealing mixes. The pomegranate, clove oranges, and Greek olive wood egg came from previous adventures.
Many flowers and foliage colours are golden, russet, orange and red – my favourites. And berries have appeared – some edible and some unfortunately poisonous. Some tree branches are becoming bare at this time, but those with a few of the turning fiery shades in their leaves are special. Gather up the fallen leaves and display them in a bowl. Later the changing of the seasons from summer to winter brings bare branches of deciduous trees. A couple of large branches alone in a large vase set on the floor can look sculptural and elegant and make a simple statement on their own. Choose good quality stems, not quantity. For shorter branches place a couple in a glass container so that the whole line of the stems can be seen.
Fennel growing wild on the roadside has lime/khaki seed heads and stems can be long enough to stand in a huge crock on the floor. The vegetable garden supplies good branches of seeds too – like parsley, fennel or angelica.
The orchard too can produce some splendid treasures. Branches laden with edible fruit make wonderful decorations. Green persimmons or quinces on the stem look amazing indoors. Bought fruit used as a decorative item can turn the edible into an artful feast too. A simple bowl of oranges looks great or a huge shallow bowl of shiny red apples can be dressed up by placing candles at random throughout it for a low-level design with high impact. I once used a huge bronze Indian Urli for this purpose for a function and it looked impressive. Gourds, small pumpkins and maize add good colour and interest and are long lasting at this time of year too. Autumn is a bountiful season with great richness. ©