Magazine article Sunset

Harvest Tabletops

Magazine article Sunset

Harvest Tabletops

Article excerpt

Celebrate in style with these magnificent centerpieces

* Floral designer Valerie Arelt will tell you that every season brings its own special pleasures for creating arrangements. But up on the secluded knoll in Sonoma, California, where she has her home and studio, Arelt's eyes take on an additional sparkle and her step gets a little brisket when she surveys the turning leaves of fall. The holidays are approaching, it's her busiest time of year, and the surrounding hillsides abound with treasures from nature. Arelt rarely misses a large liquidambar leaf tinged with burnished gold, or a gnarly twig that might be just the right finishing touch on one of her floral arrangements. Autumn's bountiful harvest inspired the centerpieces Arelt made for us using seasonal fruits and berries, clippings from her garden, and vegetables. The arrangements are equally appropriate for informal get-togethers and Thanksgiving banquets.

Kale and pomegranate arrangement

WHAT YOU NEED

* Seasonal materials: fruits, flowers, foliage, berries, and vegetables (see Arelt's suggestions above)

* Garden shears or scissors

* Florist's picks

* One block of soaked florist's foam

* Knife

* One 10-inch-diameter plastic or terra-cotta saucer with a lip

* Florist's tape

* Lazy susan (revolving tray)

Valerie Arelt selects fall fruits for their colors - red pomegranates and apples, and orange persimmons, kumquats, and mandarins. She incorporates clusters of fresh pink peppercorns and red berries such as nandina, and fresh flowers such as coral freesia. For foliage, Arelt likes chestnut, eucalyptus, liquidambar, magnolia, maple, and oak leaves mixed with citrus and grape leaves. Green winter wheat and dill weed also work well in this kind of centerpiece. If you use kale as a focal point, buy small plants from a nursery (they will be smaller and freshet than kale purchased in the produce department of the grocery), then remove the soil and submerge the plants in water.

For more holiday decorating tips, check out Valerie Arelt's video: The Glorious Art of Christmas Decorations. $29.95 plus tax and shipping; (800) 752-6896.

PREPARATION

1. Separate fruits, vegetables, and foliage into clusters. Cut greenery and vines into 12-inch-long sprigs and set aside. Select your best leaves and use florist's picks to wire a single leaf or small clusters of leaves together on one pick. Push the blunt ends of other picks partially into the fruits and vegetables, leaving the pointed ends to stick into the florist's foam. …

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