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3 tips for Thanksgiving flower arrangements

Thanksgiving decorations for your holiday table.

johnsone2013

Thomas J. Story

One of my favorite parts of hanging out in the wine country for Sunset’s November feature story was learning how to make gorgeous, natural flower arrangements for Thanksgiving. Here are three tips for how you can work magic from Healdsburg SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel and SHED’s floral designer Sue Volkel into your own arrangements.

1. Use what nature has at hand

Daniel and Volkel started by cutting colorful branches, flowers, berries, and herbs from the HomeFarm property in the Dry Creek Valley where Daniel lives with her husband, Doug Lipton. “On our small farm we like to cultivate unusual varieties that aren’t often available at the cut flower markets, things like oak leaf hydrangeas, clematis, unusual viburnums, and hellebores,” says Daniel. “My favorite thing to do is just walk the farm, cutting the plants in our meadow, hedgerows, and wild edges as well as from the garden beds and orchard.”

Blueberry branches turn autumn colors when cold weather hits. (Thomas J. Story)

Oak leaf hydrangea branches and lemon verbena in a wooden garden trug from SHED. (Thomas J. Story)

Cindy Daniel heads back into the house through the vineyard at HomeFarm. (Thomas J. Story)

2. Go for a loose, informal approach, so arrangements appear a little wild

Inside the house, Daniel and Volkel put together bigger, splashier arrangements for side tables and smaller ones for the dining table. “As someone who is self-taught,” says Daniel, “I have a loose, informal approach and like arrangements to appear effortless and a little wild, never too studied or formal.”

Cindy Daniel’s low arrangement for the dining table combines purple-green blueberry branches, red rose hips, and spiky flowered sumac sugar bush. (Thomas J. Story)

3. Layer colors and combine them in unexpected ways

I like to do unexpected combinations, like red cotoneaster with pink tulip magnolia or hydrangea,” says Daniel. “I layer colors and combine them in unexpected ways, and use texture for nuanced contrast. But it’s all about what you have.”

For a striking display on the piano, Volkel combined graceful sprays of greenish-silver cotoneaster (here, with and without red berries), olive branches, and pink hydrangea. (Thomas J. Story)