Pumpkin power: How to bring some pop to your fall decor

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

As temperatures finally begin to feel more fall-like, it’s time to add layers to not just our wardrobes but our homes.

From cornstalks and pumpkins to mums and gourds, fall decor creates a sense of warmth in our homes that carries all the way through Halloween into the holidays. One great way to add a touch of autumn to your home, both inside and out, is with fall floral arrangements or centerpieces.

They come in a range of styles, from succulent pumpkins to container gardens with mums and kale.

Laurie Bolach, a floral designer and the owner of Olive’s Bloombox in Ferndale, creates container gardens for clients all over Metro Detroit year-round and says fall is an especially popular time. She loves to incorporate a range of materials in her creations, including kale. 

One large fall container she created includes mums, coral bells and decorative kale. She finished it with a centerpiece of preserved eucalyptus and red dogwood branches.

Kale, mums and other elements come together for this fall container garden by Laurie Bolach of Olive's Bloombox in Ferndale.

Bolach says one of her longest-lasting fall table arrangements — and an easy one to do on your own — is a succulent pumpkin. A variety of succulents are arranged and adhered across the top of a white pumpkin, creating a beautiful, long-lasting display.

And the good news is you don’t have to carve the pumpkin first. Bolach says these arrangements can last so long she had one client who still had her pumpkin in the spring.

The key to a succulent pumpkin, Bolach says: Oasis floral glue. Available through Amazon, it’s waterproof, bonds quickly and can bind together flowers, ribbons, and jewels without tape or wire. A 2.4- ounce container costs less than $10.

Bolach says a succulent pumpkin arrangement will last months but keep it out of direct sunlight because “it could increase the chances of it rotting.”

Pumpkins and flowers

Another option for a lovely fall arrangement is creating a pumpkin floral arrangement.

English Gardens, which has six locations across Metro Detroit, offered a Make It & Take Workshop earlier this month for a Pumpkin Floral Arrangement with a lovely mix of flowers adhered to the top of an heirloom pumpkin.

The good news: participants didn’t have to clean out the pumpkin at all. Instead, flowers were arranged on some Oasis floral foam on a saucer. That saucer sits right on the pumpkin or is secured to the top with some glue dots.

Rather than carving out the pumpkin, English Gardens' fall pumpkin floral arrangement attaches the flowers to Oasis floral foam on a saucer.

Florist Brittany Ross at English Gardens actually suggests not carving pumpkins to hold flowers. She says pumpkins and flowers don’t mix well, meaning the flowers won’t last as long if they’re put right into a carved pumpkin and neither will the pumpkin. For those who still chose to go that route, Ross suggests using a vase inside the pumpkin for flowers.

As far as her favorite mix of flowers in the fall, Ross says she loves to use chrysanthemum or daisies, which last a long times. She also likes mums and even carnations. She says carnations are coming back.

“I’m a big fan,” says Ross. “Carnations come in so many different colors that people aren’t aware of and they’re gorgeous. And you can get them to last two to three weeks.”

For greenery, she likes to use eucalyptus.

“They smell nice and when they do start to dry out, they start to look more fall-looking with time,” she said

And when it comes to pumpkins, heirloom pumpkins — which come in wide variety of shapes and colors — are hot these days, says Ross.

“Everybody is doing during more gray tones in their homes so they come in blues, almost pinks, tans, white and beiges,” she said.

Neutral fall decor

And who says fall decor or arrangements have to be orange at all? They don’t, says West Michigan design blogger and author Liz Marie Galvan.

Galvan, who lives on a farm with her husband and baby son, has a home decor and vintage store near Grand Rapids called The Found Cottage. She  says fall decor can also be done in neutrals.

“It can be whatever fits your style,” wrote Galvan in a post on her popular blog, lizmarieblog.com.

Michigan blogger Liz Marie Galvan used a faux pumpkin and florals to create this fall-themed centerpiece. Galvan says fall decor doesn't have to be orange.

Galvan — who this fall published a book, “Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home” (Thomas Nelson) — has a modern farmhouse aesthetic vintage and often decorates with cream, white and gray tones. 

For a recent fall blog post, Galvan created a fall table arrangement using a faux pumpkin. She traced a circle around the top, cut it out and suggested arranging faux or real florals inside. A vase with water is a must for real flowers but for faux stems, bend the stems to fit them inside, Galvan suggested.

So think outside the traditional orange pumpkin when it comes to creating your own fall tablescape or arrangement this season. And if orange isn’t your color, skip it. Whether you use real materials or faux, it’s all about the layers and your home will feel warm right into the holidays.