Making a Basket of Cattails


Cattails are so cool. Long, tall stalks with narrow, swordlike leaves and that one big brown catkin at the top of each cluster. They represent a slight design dilemma in finding the right container, though. They call for a high vase or basket. I looked around my house until I happened on one that was just right.

Now’s the time to harvest cattails. Look along roadsides near water. (You can grow cattails at home, by the way, though they won’t grow as tall as they do in the wild. They can be invasive, so grow them in containers.)

To dry cattails, hang them upside down for a few weeks then spray with a floral fixative (or hairspray works, too!).

I love the texture of cattails, and the combination of pattern, color, and texture in this arrangement with some small branches I cut from the hill behind our farmhouse. The leaves aren’t particularly vibrant–no bright golds or oranges or reds. Just a simple green and crisp brown with feathering branches.

On a side note, isn’t the paint on this old chair fantastic? I got several of these old yellow chairs at an auction last year. Somebody suggested to me that I could repaint them. Travesty! They are so perfect how they are.

All shabby, showing underlayers of paint, chipped, and beautiful.

I’ve seen bunches of dried cattails (and the amount I have here would constitute two bunches) for sale for $20 per bunch!

So go grab them while you can! There’s gold in them thar hills!

Decorating in Nature Chic


Nature has so much to offer right now. (Thistles.)

Why spend money at the store? (Milkweed seed pods.)

Stop! Look around! (Sweet gum seed pods.)

And gather what is freely given. (I don’t even know what this one is.)

Yesterday, I took a drive and stopped. And stopped. And stopped. And gathered.

And brought it all home to play. The thistle and the thing-I-didn’t-recognize-but-liked made it into a vase along with a ninety-four cent scarecrow.

Some of the sweet gum seed pods ended up in my vintage-style egg basket. (Which, after all, isn’t being used for anything else.)

These seed pods dry and turn brown over time. They can then be painted for seasonal decoration, such as silver for Christmas.

I gathered some hickory nuts on our farm the other day and also placed them in a bowl with some pecans a friend from Texas left me.

These wild grapes were also gathered by the side of the road and ended up in a platter along with some of the sweet gum and milkweed.

Nothing from the store can top nature’s bounty. And it’s free! Your house can be festive and beautiful for free!

Do you gather from the roadside or your yard or farm for fall decorations? I’d love to hear about your favorite finds and your ideas for using them!

September 21, 2008 - Decorating for Fall

I’m on a decorating binge–the autumn extravaganza in which I celebrate my favorite colors (treasure gold, burnt orange, deep-dark green, wine red) in memory of the glory that was summer and anticipation of the splendor that is to come. Then there’s all that other fun stuff: pumpkins and scarecrows, ribbons and straw, gourds and berries....
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September 18, 2008 - Making a Grapevine Wreath

Wild grapevine is an invasive plant, often called a nuisance since it can actually kill trees. If you live in a wooded area, you’ve probably got some right outside your house and plenty of it! I think it’s beautiful and it’s perfect for crafting wreaths and other home decor. I also love how it lends...
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August 21, 2008 - My Secret Garden

My parents had been visiting for two days already when they said, “Where is your garden?” Me: “It’s that plot of weeds we’ve got fenced in over there…….” That’s why it’s my secret garden. It sounds so much more cool when I put it that way, doesn’t it? We’ve had some struggles with our garden’s...
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