autumn palette arrangement

Adri Smith of Moss Floral Design shows how to make this autumn palette arrangement with step-by-step instructions.

My single-source inspiration was the mustard combo rose, which works well with many different palettes, like the cream, pale peach, dark mauve, and burgundy one I used. I also wanted to include foliage that was distinct from the traditional blooms found at the flower market. I visited one of my favorite local nurseries to search for unique accent pieces that would complement the muted palette I envisioned. Delicate eucalyptus, coleus, and dainty foliage added interest without overpowering the focal pieces.

MATERIALS: carnations | scabiosas | ranunculus | coleus | ‘Baby Blue’ eucalyptus | mustard combo roses | garden roses | ‘Caramel Antike’ garden roses | ‘Edith’ garden roses | milkweed | cinnamon basil | snapdragons | fringeflower | artemisia | heuchera

1| Use a low, neutral vessel, and add floral foam that has been soaked and cut to fit the base. Wrap a piece of tape around the top edge of the container, and make an X pattern over the foam to secure. I prefer clear tape, so it doesn’t show. Sometimes I use chicken wire instead of foam with deeper vessels. If the arrangement doesn’t need to be transported, then a frog could work as well.

2| Build the framework for the arrangement. When placing materials, work with the natural curves of each stem, and think about movement— the eye needs to have something to follow. Make sure to place materials at different levels, and work toward a valley shape with the framework. Add the coleus (beautiful shape and color—even the stems), heuchera, cinnamon basil, fringeflower, and milkweed.

3| For the last step in the base, add a few stems of artemisia with the pretty silvery-green foliage. Be sure to check the arrangement on all sides, and fill in as needed to cover any bare spots. Vary the textures, and think about creating little moments and stories within the arrangement.

4| Prepare the roses to put into the arrangement. To open them up more, I either blow in the center of the bloom while twirling the stem in both hands—this will give standard roses the look of more expensive garden roses—or I gently peel back the petals away from the center, which makes the rose resemble a ruffled peony.

5| It’s time to add the focal flowers and build the color palette, starting with the roses. Make sure to cluster a couple of the same blooms together, which is how they would look in nature. The mustard combo rose is the star; place one front and low on the arrangement, and then add two more, creating a triangle. Make sure not to crowd the flowers; give them breathing room, which makes for a more organic look. Continue with the V shape.

6| Accent flowers add movement and height and build on the palette as well. Use ranunculus, scabiosa, and a few stems of peach snapdragons. I often cluster the accent flowers in groups of three. You want them to have a lot of breathing room, so an imagined butterfly can flit around, which is how I like to think of it.

7| For another layer of texture and interest, place a few sprigs of ‘Baby Blue’ eucalyptus around the bottom of the arrangement, clustered off to one side. They will drape nicely over the edge of the container along with the coleus.

autumn palette arrangement

8| Sometimes you think that you’re finished with an arrangement but then change your mind. Be open to that because there really aren’t any rules. I added two peach carnations to one side. The color provides the perfect transition from the deeper burgundy shade of the coleus to the white roses. Check all angles again, fill in any empty spots, and you’re done!

autumn palette arrangement


By Adri Smith | Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Stephen Karlisch

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