“If flowers bring us joy, trees give us strength”

October in Pennsylvania reminds to look up and enjoy the changing colors of nature.  All around us deciduous trees are turning tones and shades of red, orange, and yellow and giving us a last burst of color before they lose their leaves for the winter. It is an exciting time to work with the combination of branches and flowers.

Trees in our garden. Many years ago, my husband and I took the Deciduous Tree Course at Longwood Gardens and became very excited about the vast varieties of trees that add interest to the home garden. The course was the perfect start to a life-long adventure in the world of plants and horticulture and it led me into the whirlwind study of floral design. 

longwood field of sunflowers

Stewartia pseudocamelia is a four seasons tree with spring blooms, summer fruit, beautiful fall color, and exfoliating bark for winter interest. Just a few dahlia blooms are used to accent the branches in a Sogetsu style horizontal arrangement. 

Redbud or ceris canedensis has stunning spring flowers and the purple foliage in early autumn makes a perfect background for a single oriental lily. The large purple leaves are quite hardy in spite of looking fragile. 


longwood field of sunflowers

Crabapple branches malus sylvestris make a dramatic display even without flowers.  Just a few begonia leaves anchor a bundle of crabapple branches. When more flowers are added, the branches become secondary to the floral display.


Curvy willow branches and dried lotus pods are wrapped with bittersweet berries. A single hydrangea, two dahlia blooms, and a begonia leaf are floral accents to the dry materials. 

Fresh fig branches create an armature to support fresh lily pods in a Sogetsu class design.

Again, dried branches are accented with just a few fresh floral accents to make a long-lasting display. 

arranging sunflowers

Fiery colors of red and gold with spray roses and gloriosa lilies are shown off in an armature of twigs. 

Some garden club friends are smiling with their creations featuring branches and flowers.

The time for working with fall foliage is short lived and it is a good reminder for us to pay attention to the ebb and flow of the natural world around us. Look around and enjoy the colors of autumn.