Searching for a great fall decoration? Look down: You could be walking on it. In the fall, plants produce and discard gorgeous seeds, seed pods, husks, and pinecones. These materials are called naturals by the floral industry. Florists and interior designers use them in arrangements and as decorative accessories. They're inexpensive ($1 to $20), easy to use, and require little to no embellishment.
- Make them visible. Pick a container that will display naturals to their best advantage, advises Bob Saupan of Au Naturel, a source for pods and other naturals. For an easy arrangement, he suggests placing large naturals in the bottom of a transparent container and filling in the gaps and top with smaller seeds and seed pods.
- Group naturals for a big impact. Some of Saupan's favorite arrangements are baskets or bowls filled with naturals of one type, such as pinecones or artichokes.
- Add a color punch. Dried vegetables, fruits, and plants such as artichokes, oranges, and thistles can add color to a naturals arrangement.
- Make sure naturals are pest-free. You can be relatively sure that naturals purchased from a florist or nursery are free of bugs. If you're worried about the pinecones and pods from your backyard, however, there are a few ways to get rid of insects. John Letson, also of Au Naturel, seals naturals in an airtight container and puts it in the freezer to kill pests. Bobbi Pearson of Columbia Pinecones and Botanicals suggests placing found pinecones in a box, spraying them with bug spray, and then sealing the box with tape and leaving it overnight. To remove sap from pinecones, Pearson places them on a foil-covered cookie sheet and bakes them in the oven for five minutes on the lowest setting (don't bake naturals that you have sprayed, though).
- Au Naturel (253/924-1850)
- Columbia Pinecones and Botanicals, Columbia, CA (888/470-6989)
- Living Green, San Francisco (415/864-2251)
- Richard Gervais Collection, San Francisco (415/255-4579)