A Cornucopia of Fall Colors

In her event and floral studio, Georgia designer Amy Osaba shares her secrets and step-by-step instructions for crafting a rich, fall-hued centerpiece
amy osaba, fall centerpiece
Amy Osaba shares step-by-step instructions for creating a fall centerpiece that celebrates autumn’s colors.

“This is what I love about fall: the unexpected pops of vibrant, gorgeous hues just when you think there are none to be found,” says Amy. “I love the bright oranges, purples, greens, and yellows. The earthy colors remind me of the root vegetables of autumn and their beautiful colors. I like to use lots of different colors and textures, therefore using lots of varying types of flowers. Today we used peonies, ranunculus, zinnia, scabiosa, feverfew, and even some Jerusalem sage. Each of these flowers brings its own personality to the arrangement. I like to be sure that I have some lighter and darker hues to ensure the arrangement has enough depth. Keeping with the concept of a cornucopia, I chose incredibly lush flowers to cascade from the container. I bought the vintage cake stand at a local flea market for $12. I love the dark-green color and the ornate details. The flat surface makes it easier to use the floral foam without a vessel dictating where the flowers will go.”

Fall Centerpiece How-To

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"This is what I love about fall: the unexpected pops of vibrant, gorgeous hues just when you think there are none to be found."—Amy Osaba
FLOWER LIST: Peony, Ranunculus, Zinnia, Scabiosa, Feverfew, Poppy, Dahlia, Parrot tulip, Veronica, Jerusalem sage, 1 feather
TOOL LIST: Cake stand, 1 block of Oasis floral foam, Clippers
Make sure to soak the Oasis, maybe even overnight. This is very important since there will be no other water source on the cake stand to keep the flowers looking their best. The Oasis will also be much easier to trim when wet. Place the Oasis on top of the cake stand and determine the size it needs to be, then cut it to that length. I didn’t want the Oasis to be too high, so I trimmed some from the top, as well. You can secure it to the stand if you’re traveling with the arrangement, but since I was only taking it outside to a table, that wasn’t necessary.
I always begin by laying all of the elements out on the table to really get a good look at what I will be working with. And just as a note, you really don’t have to strip all of your flowers beforehand. Sometimes the leaves closest to the bloom look really pretty in the arrangement, giving it a more natural look and feel. That said, you do want to tear off as many leaves as necessary to insert the stem cleanly into the Oasis. Since the flowers need to be rooted into the Oasis, I began with the flowers I wanted to cascade off to the side. I always choose longer, linear stems that easily bend and have a delicate, graceful movement. Here, I cascaded two or three stems of Jerusalem sage.
Before fully inserting, place the flowers visually and make sure the stems are just where you want them. Too much in and out, and your Oasis will begin to fall apart.
Once you have the basic structure of the cascade, I usually like one big, gor- geous flower to be the main focal point. It’s all about this stunning ‘Eric William’ peony. Don’t be afraid to let it come off the front of the cake stand, but strategically place it to balance the cascading components.
Next is to fill in around the peony. I like to do this by adding smaller flowers close to the Oasis. The tighter the flowers are to the floral foam, the more coverage you get, and we never want to see any bit of the Oasis.
I begin with ranunculus and zinnia. (Be mindful that ranunculus stems are usually a little softer than others, so it can be helpful to create a hole with a bamboo skewer, or even a pencil, before inserting the stem to avoid breakage.) If you don’t want the arrangement to be perfectly round, let some of the blooms stick out more than others.
I continued building the overall mass and then began detailing with smaller flowers. I placed another big, yellow peony on the back side and continued building around it. It is so important to use a variety of textures and colors.
I continued to move around and fill in, texturizing. Consider putting a few small clusters of ranunculus together.
I placed the poppy in a way to allow it to dance above the arrangement. I also added a few veronicas, which have such a cute curl at their ends.
I added one simple feather as a nod to the season. I love how it moves, how it balances the cascading components, and how it makes the overall arrangement a little more interesting.
While this arrangement could be used for any occasion, I placed it on an outside table to enjoy with an afternoon meal. No flower arrangement is ever the same, making each and every one its own work of art.