Use slender branches about the length of a walking stick to hang curtains. Smooth the surface with sandpaper to prevent snags.
- For a centerpiece, set a thick candle in the midst of small pinecones on a platter, or trail pine boughs and pinecones down the center of the dining table, adding candles for warmth.
- Save colorful fall leaves in layers of waxed paper. Use them throughout the season in glass containers or running down the center of a dining table. Need place cards? Write each guest's name on a leaf with a felt-tip pen and place it on the plate.
- Gracefully shaped bare branches or tall grasses look dramatic in a glass vase.
- Grow plants in your garden that will dry well for arrangements, including strawflowers, alliums, grasses, and hydrangeas. Pick a few not fully opened and hang them upside down in a warm area for several weeks.
- Arrange grasses, berry branches, and seedpods in an earthenware container.
- Grow small containers of fragrant herbs in terra-cotta pots to set around the house. English clay pots are available from greatstuffbypaul.com.
- Find an alphabet made of twigs—an exciting long-walk challenge to a child. Look for shapes about 6 to 8 inches high that mimic the letters of the alphabet. Put them up as a border where the wall meets the ceiling in the dining room.
Ideas for the Holidays
There are so many ways to add natural touches to your interior decor.
- Save dried hydrangea blooms, alliums (Allium cristophii is particularly nice), and pinecones for their natural beauty. Display them in rustic containers or small garden pails. Pinecones stand out in a ceramic bowl or handwoven basket.
- For a more festive display, use gold or silver Krylon spray paint (spray outside) on the blooms and pinecones. Pile the pinecones in clear glass vessels; bunch the alliums and attach them upside down from a hanging pot rack.
- Tiny holiday lights wrapped around a bare branch make an instant chandelier (tie fishing line at various spots and attach it to small hooks in the ceiling) or candelabra when placed on a table.
- Use wild grapevine to create a wreath. Attach small pinecones with a glue gun. Magnolia leaves also lend themselves to the design of a wreath.
- Wrap gifts in brown paper and tie with raffia, then glue on tiny gold and silver pinecones or acorns.
- Fill vertical glass containers with small stones. Place them on the mantel with large pinecones and pine branch swags, punctuated by thick candles.
- Set a pot of cider on a back burner on low heat. Add cinnamon sticks and let the fragrance of the apple harvest fill your home.