When the weather turns cooler and the nights are consistently in the ’70s, it is time to get back out into the garden. Fall is my second favorite season after spring when my native plants put on their second show of growth and color. Here in North Texas, we get to enjoy the garden again from late September until the first hard frost which usually arrives by mid-November.
Note: November 15th is the average first frost date for Collin County based on historical data, so it can vary from year to year and depending on where in North Texas you are located.
What I love especially about autumn is being able to make use of garden plants for crafts and decorations around the house. With colder weather looming, now is an opportune time to cut back many plants that would otherwise freeze and put them to good use.
Wreaths and floral arrangements using flowers, branches, and fall-colored leaves are a creative way to bring the beauty of nature indoors, along with the benefits of aromatherapy, to appreciate when the days get shorter and it becomes too cold to enjoy the garden outside!
And the holiday season is the perfect time to get crafty to create a warm, welcoming homey feel.
Aromatic herbs and greenery can help beat the winter blues. But the benefits of DIY herbal crafts don’t end there. Homemade garden crafts are also free, organic, recyclable, personalized, and about as local as you can get! Putting to use what you can find in your own environment inspires creativity; plus you can feel good about your own handiwork!
Basic Principles of Floral and Herbal Arrangements
Floral arranging and wreath making can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In skilled, experienced hands, floral arrangements can become an art form, and many books have been written on the subject. Even if you’re a beginner though, you can make lovely garden crafts you can be proud to show off!
For a simple DIY home project, the following basic guidelines will get you started, but feel free to experiment with your own ideas.
Use greens as a base or filler. Rosemary and bay are perfect for creating structure for your arrangement and are easy to grow in our North Texas gardens.
These green herbs can also be used to create a wreath form, along with the native Coral honeysuckle vine. Cut into 3 foot section and wrap tightly in a spiral and anchor together at the end with wire. Freshly pruned vine is supple enough to form into shape. If the vine or branches are dry, dunk in water for an hour or so, until pliable.
To branch out in colors, you can also use shades of red or yellow, such as maple, Ginkgo biloba, or Nandina.
Next, add a focal point, such as roses, Mexican bush sage, or Mexican mint marigold. Then add your accents using berries or grass seed heads in shades of orange or purple. You can add finishing touches with any decorative items you have on hand: ribbons, ornaments, tiny pumpkins!
Most of your cuttings can be used fresh out of the garden and will dry in place on your wreath. Fresh flower arrangements can keep up to a week. Tender herbs such as basil can root in water and will keep for some time on your windowsill.
Seasonal Colors and Scents
For fall arrangements I like plants that come in warms colors such as red, orange and yellow. For these I look for oak and maidenhair trees, berries, rose hips, and seed pods of native plants like Snail seed vine, Yaupon Hollies, Yarrow, and Oakleaf hydrangea.
But you don’t have to confine yourself to traditional fall and holiday colors. Some of my favorite wreath materials fresh from the fall garden offer shades of blue, gray, and purple, such as Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Mexican Bush Sage, rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender.
With a bit of planning, you can use your spring blooms too. In the spring, harvest and dry materials for fall crafts – plants such as hydrangea, purple perilla, dusty millers and Mealy Blue Sage. Lambs ear and lavender can also be cut just as the flowers start to show color. These I hang upside down in my laundry room (any dry, cool place will do) until I’m ready to assemble my wreath or arrangement in the fall.
Your fall cuttings are ideal for making special arrangements for your Thanksgiving table. Use a mix of greens, reds, and oranges in little decorative vases to add a touch of color and one-of-a-kind charm.
For the winter holidays, pine, junipers, and hollies are perfect for making wreaths, garlands, swags and table arrangements. Cutting the fresh materials on a cold morning and assembling them on the kitchen table while a warm fire burns in the fireplace really brings on the fond memories of Christmas past.
The aromatic smells lift up the spirit on a dark winter’s day. The smell of pine is especially important to me for holiday cheer since I use an artificial Christmas tree!
I’m on Pinterest now and am having a blast finding fun and useful resources to share! You can see a beautiful collection of seasonal color and decoration inspiration on my Wreaths, Fall, and Thanksgiving boards. Or follow me on Pinterest for year-round ideas, inspiration, tips, and other gardening-related pins.
To find more inspiration and instructions, check your local library for books on wreath making and other herbal crafts. Some of my favorite books on the subject are Malcolm Hillier’s Herb Garden and Wreaths & Garlands.
For more in-depth instructions on wreath making, stay tuned (or subscribe to my blog via the sign-up box on the sidebar) for an upcoming post with detailed steps to assembling your own homemade wreath.
Editor’s Note: This updated post was originally published November 2014.