When temperatures begin to cool and folks start swapping out ice cream and iced tea for hot chocolate and warmed cider, it’s time once again to pull out the fall wreathes and decorations — tributes to the blazing autumn pallette of reds, oranges, yellows, golds and browns from up north that many Floridians traded in for life in tropical paradise.
But before you go out and buy a nostalgic cluster of gourds, berries and artificial autumn leaves, consider some of the ideas Captiva Blooms Manager and Lead Designer Ruth Thompson has for rejuvenating — and reinventing — traditional fall decor with a tropical twist.
“Most people like to have fall colors around them because most of us are transplants,” Thompson said. “And what’s really popular right now are tablescapes.”
Tablescapes — a portmanteau of “table” and “landscape” — are the perfect way to bring fall colors into the home and, with a bit of creativity — and some simple island accents — anyone can make a traditional fall display truly unique.
“I love covering styrofoam shapes, like spheres, with tiny pine cones. You can get both of those things at craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabrics,” Thompson said, noting that while pine cones are a seasonal staple, using them in new or unexpected ways is a great technique for spicing up your autumn tablescape.
Local flora, Thompson added, is another unexpected way to introduce fall colors into your home decor.
“Ixora — that bright orange flower you see down here — really reminds me of fall. And there’s also a bush called croton. Its leaves turn red and yellow and orange and they’re beautiful,” Thompson said. “Of course, any type of flower you can get up north — like chrysanthemums — you can get down here.”
Thompson said that there are no rules when it comes to creating a unique tablescape — you just have to use your imagination.
A simple and attractive autumn arrangement that Thompson recommends is using a hollowed-out pumpkin as a vase for fall flowers — a reinterpretation of the standard jack-o-lantern.
“That’s very easy to do. I would get some fall mums, add some croton leaves and bear grass, tie it up in a bunch with raffia and put it in your pumpkin. You can even use craft sticks to puncture the bottom of fresh fruit, like red apples and oranges, and put those in your arrangement,” Thompson said. “What’s also fun is using different colored battery operated lights in your arrangements! That way, you can put your arrangement out on your porch for Halloween.”
Thompson also said that floral arrangements are trending towards more natural themes and elements — like incorporating objects found on the beach.
“If you want your arrangement to be more beachy, glue a starfish to a craft stick and put that in,” she said. “Starfish and seashells are very easy to spray paint, so if you want to paint them gold or orange and add them to your arrangement, it’s very simple.”
Mixing different colors and textures is another creative way to set your tablescape apart — like pairing the dimpled surface of dark driftwood with the sleek finish of a painted seashell or by contrasting the grainy texture of colored sand with the waxy sheen of a candle. Combining fresh Florida oranges with gourds and apples in a wooden bowl is another simple way to pay homage to festive fall colors.
Captiva Blooms, located in Chadwick’s Square, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information or to place an order, call 239-579-1468.
Thompson said that decorating for fall doesn’t have to be a literal representation of autumnal elements. Incorporating common Florida elements into a fall color scheme — such as colored sand, rust-colored sea stars or brown drift wood — can help translate a traditional fall display into something tropical.
Fact BoxTips for making your own Florida fall masterpiece
• Find “Floridian” substitutes for standard fall favorites: replace one of your gourds with an orange or a grapefruit; instead of using straw, go for natural grasses; and instead of pining away for those vibrant red and gold maple leaves, pluck a few from a croton shrub
• Don’t just think about colors — play with different textures too! Combine the soft but knotty surface of driftwood with the smoothness of a sand dollar, the grittiness of colored sand with the sleek wax of a candle, the bristly bumps of a pinecone with the glittery accents of a sheer, colorful ribbon
• Reinvent old fall favorites: intertwine red, clear or orange battery operated lights into a bouquet of mums and use a hollowed-out pumpkin as your base; fill a cornucopia with painted starfish and seashells; and instead of accenting with straw, tie brightly colored ribbon around natural grasses that you can find in your own back yard
• Make your display a work of art that you design yourself. Buying a beautiful centerpiece is easy, but making one that represents you is much more satisfying — especially when guests comment on your work! Gather the elements that represent you — whether it’s a pumpkin or a seashell or a few yards of iridescent ribbon — and make something you will love to look at all season long