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Fall Harvest Decorating Essentials

Create a sense of abundance in your fall harvest displays without amassing piles of orange pumpkins
Keith Robinson places a pale peach rose in a graceful fall arrangement. Foraged foliage and panicle hydrangeas from his garden add both organic texture and nuance to the color story.

Keith Robinson, a talented floral designer and expert on all things entertaining, creates harvest-inspired vignettes using flowers and gourds that wow guests at his beautiful rural abode outside Atlanta. “You can render the idea of plentitude in harvest displays without making them feel contrived or overwhelming,” he says. Here are Keith’s best tips and tricks for producing harvest tableaus pulled from nature.

Keith’s preference for understated abundance in harvest décor is captured in a vignette of gourds arranged on a weathered bench tucked among fall-blooming flowers.

Create a Color Story

“One of the things that I always think about in my harvest decorations is the color story,” Keith says. “Oftentimes, people think of fall harvest décor as being in shades of burnt orange, red, and bright yellow, but it doesn’t always have to go in that direction. There are heirloom pumpkins and gourds in beautiful hues of pink and salmon that give a completely different feel. In fact, you can take seafoam-green shades and mix them with white, which will give a sense of variety to your autumnal color story.”

Potted chrysanthemums with burgundy blooms offer a longer life than a cut-flower arrangement.

Pick Long-lasting Flowers

“My fall aesthetic leans more towards a harvest theme, so I try to ensure my autumnal displays will last all the way through Thanksgiving,” Keith says. “I usually do the main decoration and then augment it moving forward through the fall months.”

He uses flowers that retain their original hues even when dried to avoid amassing too many pieces that would constantly need a refresh. “I like hydrangeas for this reason, particularly panicle hydrangeas such as Limelight and Vanilla Strawberry,” he says. “These have taken on their fall color and will keep that shade later while drying.” Eventually, Keith may take the same hydrangeas (now dried) and use them in his Christmas wreaths.

A large display of dried hydrangeas in the background adds seasonal texture inside Keith’s rustic entertaining pavilion. He adds a fresh arrangement when setting the table for a gathering.  

Use Seasonal Foods in Your Harvest Displays

“I’m always using recipes that honor what’s best in season,” Keith says. “In the South, fall is really the time of year to harvest pecans or peaches. Our property has the remnants of a pecan orchard with about six pecan trees that are over a hundred years old. They yield a tremendous amount of pecans, so it’s a no-brainer to incorporate them into something such as a dessert for guests to enjoy.”

The floral designer also likes to display in-season fruit or nuts in a beautiful earthenware bowl before using them in recipes. “This offers the notion of plentitude without making your displays appear manufactured,” he says. “It’s all about giving your fall harvest displays an authentic look and feel.”

Pies that look this good become their own decoration on a beautiful table.
A bowl of pecans doubles as a decoration and an ingredient in Keith’s homemade pecan pies.

Take a Master Class

Keith created the harvest displays featured in this story for a celebration he held for students enrolled in his entertaining classes, called Redwine Sessions, which he hosts on his historic property located southwest of Atlanta. Follow @redwinesessions on Instagram or email redwinesessions@gmail.com to learn more.

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Branches visually connect a two-level harvest display inside a garden folly. 
Not a clichéd orange pumpkin in sight—cream, yellow, seafoam, and dark green varieties mix with other gourds atop a rustic metal table encircled by vintage garden chairs.
An antique garden sculpture anchors the display.
An amber-hued glass lantern hung in an old, gnarled tree sets an authentically eerie mood for the season.
Keith and his dogs enjoy the fall weather and the fruits of his labor in the garden. To see more from our visit to Keith's home and garden, read "A House Finds Its Hero" from the September/October 2021 issue of Flower magazine.

By Michelle Mastro | Photography by David Hillegas | Floral design, food, and styling by Keith Robinson