Autumn is a season full of rich colors, berries from English bushes, and textures created by our deciduous trees and the fruits they produce. The season creates soft, mellowing leaves hanging onto their stems just long enough to enchant us with bright yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, and copper browns. As this magical kaleidoscope of color is transient, it is also difficult to capture at the precise moment we would like to use it, and we are left with bare, brown twigs in just a few short weeks. The fugacity of the colorful leaves, therefore, makes autumn foliage impossible to harvest from our countryside or gardens, and what we do gather quickly becomes unusable if we want some plant material with leaves on. So because English foliage at this time of year can be tricky, and the theme easily lost, some other texture and contrast should be used to bring harmony to floral arrangements and help capture the season.
When styling autumnal arrangements it is much more effective to blend in with key areas, creating greater impact, and leaving other areas decorated to blend in with their natural background, adding further interest. Seasonal- looking plant material available from shops and wholesalers includes poplar, beech and eucalyptus, which are prepared with coloured dye and glycerine, altering some or part of their natural colour to shades of red, copper and bronze. Oak leaves are sometimes painted white or orange. Take care when handling foliage that uses these preserving methods, as it can leave the flower arranger with stained hands and clothes, something to be avoided when you will be in close proximity to bridal gowns. Seasonal English flowers are few in the autumn and may not be every bride’s choice so nurseries from abroad have extended our supply by producing flowers including ‘English’ roses to bolster this limited selection. Other flowers including calla lilies are now available in beautifully harmonious tints and tones of yellow, orange, tangerine and burnt orange; also, coffee-coloured and even brown roses are available from imported stock from Holland, Columbia and elsewhere. It is now easier to match autumn colours with a larger range of flowers, which were previously regarded as being out of season. Many types of berries are plentiful and available all year round but at this time of year, you have a greater range in colour from white snowberries to cream, peach, orange and green hypericum. Also, blood-red and orange rose hips,
common in our English hedgerows are a valuable addition for texture and contrast. They create a rustic feel and can be easily foraged provided you are prepared to de-thorn the very prickly stems and leave some berries for our winter and migrating birds.