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South Central Gardening: Use Nature's Palette For Fall Holiday Décor

Have you ever noticed that holiday foods echo the season's colors? Go on a treasure hunt for nature's holiday decorations.

Have you ever noticed that holiday foods echo the season's colors? Go on a treasure hunt for nature's holiday decorations.

This year I thought fall would never come. The leaves on the trees seemed to stay forever green. But now it’s November, and there’s an expectant chill in the air. There is also anticipation of the holidays. First up: Thanksgiving, where the only presents required are your time, food and hospitality.

Have you ever noticed that holiday foods echo the season’s colors? Warm, golden gravy is the same rich brown of autumn oak leaves. Pumpkin or sweet potato pies shine orangey bright against their golden crusts. Steamed green beans recall the last of the brilliant greens of the garden.

So when considering decorations, encourage your inner child, and if you need additional inspiration, find some children to help. Go outside for a treasure hunt and gather stems adorned with bright berries, little acorns, pinecones, leaves and other natural elements. Use them to create centerpieces, wreaths, candleholders and fall scenes. Then hit the garden center or farmer’s market for anything you lack such as pumpkins, purple cabbages, kale, straw bales or cornstalks. Add a few cold- weather-loving pansies or violas for a splash of color.

Pumpkin soup served in a real pumpkin is a beautiful accent for the holiday table. Pumpkins from minis to maxis also can be used throughout the house and on the front porch. And don’t limit yourself to orange pumpkins. A broad range of colors, shapes and sizes can now be purchased nearly everywhere. If you find yourself drawn to a certain cultivar, ask the seller if they know the name.

I’ve found that our local farmers love to talk about what they grow, and some are willing to share their methods, if we only ask. Perhaps next year you could grow a few pumpkins of your own.

Whether your schedule demands simple decorations or you have time for more extravagant ones, you can’t go wrong using nature’s bounty. Plus, once the holidays are finished, these decorations can be composted and used to feed the soil for next year’s harvest.

 Beautiful and free for the taking: What more could you ask?

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