The garden's big show is coming to an end, but beautiful things are still happening outdoors. In fact, you can keep taking advantage of fall's vivid palette of reds and golds for as long as they remain ripe for picking. The projects on these pages provide bursts of color with minimal effort: a wreath of bright-red Lady apples, a fruit-meets-foliage arrangement, and a casual bouquet in which you can let the leaves fall where they may.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for this arrangement. Take a walk and snip what you find outside -- sedum, berries, branches, and dahlias are generally plentiful now -- and then plunk it down in a galvanized bucket.
1. Berries and Branches
Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) and maple branches are a great source of garden color from fall through winter. To help them last once cut, smash the bottoms of their woody stems.
This flower transforms from a mauve pink to a deep tobacco brown late in the year. Cut the aging flowers when cleaning up the garden, and use them as a dark base for more colorful companions.
Group these late-summer flowers for the best effect. In an oversize display like this one, they'll have a greater impact than if they're scattered about.
This wreath may seem elaborate, but all it requires is some patient repetition of a simple technique. We used a 24-inch-diameter straw form, and about 130 Lady apples and wooden floral picks. Working in rows, jab the pointy half of each wooden pick into the bottom of the core of each apple and the other half into the straw form. Tuck leaves into gaps. Hang with a double-wrapped loop of monofilament (test before hanging, since the wreath will be heavy).
Straw wreath, 24 inches, and floral picks, 6 inches, by FloraCraft; createforless.com.
An armload of colorful branches cut from a burning bush or a sugar maple tree in your own backyard requires little arranging. Place your cuttings in a cylindrical vase, and insert that vase into a larger cube-shaped, clear-glass vessel. Fill the space between the two containers with Lady apples.