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!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 25, 2008  

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  1. 9-25

    Yes, I love collecting from nature. I find many pods, branches and flowers right on my property and also on my walks. I collect empty birdnests, rocks, and leaves as well. I enjoy trying to identify everything I bring home. I have also found many bones, a few skulls and this year, 5 vertebra. We have deer and coyote wandering through.

  2. 9-25

    I love to gather “possibilities” from my walks also. I think i inherited the desire from my mom and her sister. I remember going for long rides into the country and stopping over and over again for branches, rocks, dried pods and “weeds”. Then we would make arrangements as you did…even decorating for church suppers and luncheons…they looked better than the fancy store bought items.

  3. 9-25

    I love to see what “treasures” I will find. Now I take my 4 year old and almost 3 year old granddaughters with me. It is so much fun to see what we find and how to put it all together in a wreath or centerpiece.

  4. 9-25

    Bittersweet! I love the vines, and the yellow/red berries. Now I have cats and dogs, so I don’t bring it inside because I don’t if it’s poison or not, but it looks just beautiful outside as wreaths, or around a door.


  5. 9-25

    I use cattails. Spray them with hairspray so they don’t open up. I enjoy as much nature as possible around me. It keeps me grounded. Love your ideas!

  6. 9-25

    Bittersweet. I love the look of the vines with the orange and yellow berries.

  7. 9-25

    I also love to use cattails and various berries. When we travel I love to collect rocks, shells and driftwood which I use to decorate both inside and outside.

  8. 9-25

    From what I can tell in your pictures, Suzanne, the plant you didn’t know is thistle. The one labeled thistle is actually teasel, and one of my favorite fall decorations, too. I’ll be doing the flowers for church this weekend and some of them are definitely going in amongst all the goldenrod and asters. Don’t forget to crack open some of those hickory nuts. They’re hard to get out of the shell, but oh, so good.
    -Jill in Ohio

  9. 9-25

    {say in SUPER whiney voice)


    Love that sweet gum thing…I like to stuff my Christmas Tree with things like that….but…again, it all comes from store!!!


  10. 9-25

    What you didn’t recognize is either knapp weed or Canada Thistle. It’s hard to tell them apart once they have gone to seed like that.

    I love to go looking for anything I can find outside this time of year. I usually use a variety of wild grasses and maybe a few branches off my autumn olives.

  11. 9-25

    Honey, I’d take those grapes and make jelly!

  12. 9-25

    :treehugger: You do have good pickings in your neck of the woods!! We collect all different sizes of pinecones during the spring, then save them for a Christmas project. We have made sparkly garlands, and a multi layer wreath on a wire frame. Add a layer of nuts to fill in the bare spots. I have one that’s store-bought , from Lord and Taylors, that is about 50 years old. I designed mine after that one. It must have been a good deal to have lasted 50 years!! LOL! Everything is gorgeous!! You will have a line at your door soon for tours! LOL! Have a great day, all! :butterfly:

  13. 9-25

    :purr: :guitar: P.S. I’d take those and make wine!! LOL!

  14. 9-25

    P.P.S. The grapes, I mean! :flying:

  15. 9-25

    My mom LOVED to gather wild stuff for decorating. She called it “Roadside Shopping.” Drove my dad nuts – I think he was embarrassed to be seen by other drivers. Mom would turn those roadside findings into the most beautiful centerpieces though. Hmmmmmmmmm….I may need to take a country drive this afternoon……

  16. 9-25

    How lovely! Yes, I gather bittersweet, high-bush cranberry, lots of cattails, anything!!

    Football is in full swing at our house; one freshman and one senior – the fall days are perfect for it. Tonight is our small-town homecoming parade, tomorrow night is the game and Saturday night is the dance. I was such a social pariah that I didn’t attend any of this stuff when in high school (the same one my kids go to), but my kids seem to be more socially gifted than I, so they are looking forward to the events!

  17. 9-25

    I love the bounty nature has to offer. You have founds some wonderful items to decorate with.

  18. 9-25

    Sweet gum balls. The bane of my childhood. We had to pick them up out of the yard each year when they dropped. I think we got paid like a nickel a bucket for this chore…

  19. 9-25

    When I lived in Kansas my sister and I would drive the countryside and gather wild grapevines and then spend the day making wreaths. Now I live in New England and miss my sister and those special times together. Thanks for bringing back the memories Suzanne!

  20. 9-25

    I can’t whine about growing up in Florida away from all of your lovely offerings because Mom always found stuff to use as decoration. Driftwood from the beach was her favorite – she was a great artist and would paint critters on wood, flat stones found on the beach, etc. Table centerpieces were made of very unusual driftwood shapes with red holly berries and other goodies. And oh, yes, Mary, we had all sizes and shapes of pinecones! Spray-painted silver they really shone in an arrangement. :catmeow:

  21. 9-25

    I live at 6300 feet altitude so I don’t have a lot of this cuteness you’ve found but I use pinecones and wild berries and unique looking pine tree branches.

  22. 9-25

    :heart: Reading your post today brings back memories of my grandmother. She was the best! I loved taking walks with her and gathering all the different things to make arrangements. She also used hairspray to spray her cattails and other things as well. We would gather pinecones to paint gold and silver for christmas too! I am going to take my daughter out today, Thanks for the memories!

  23. 9-25

    We live in Las Vegas, which is a different kind of beautiful. There really isn’t anything to gather here though. Unless I want a handful of sand or a cactus. :mrgreen: Someday I will live somewhere GREEN and will gather everything I can.

  24. 9-25

    Love the cow by the road. Too funny.

    Your tablescape is wonderful.

  25. 9-25

    I love the dried Okra pods for their textured stripiness and I always pick a huge branch of two of sage to dry and put into my arrangements. And the pods from the tulip tree are so pretty when they dry, as well. The seed pods from day lilly’s have a wonderful witchy look to them for Halloween- and I love to use rosehips from the sprawling sweetbriar rose bushes. I also gather up the bark off of Sycamore trees and the dried fern fronds from my Ostrich ferns- and I love using moss and lichen from the tree roots in the back yard. I save the browned leaves off of my Bay tree and spray them golden on the edges and love to pick wild yarrow and spray it silver for that holiday sparkle.
    My son’s quit walking with me when I started loading them down- so now I carry a net bag to fill up on my own.

  26. 9-25

    I love to gather decorations too. I make twig wreaths, grapevine and apple wreaths, use wild berries to decorate christmas wreaths (red from dogwood and rose hips, yellow from horse nettle, orange from bittersweet, dark blue from greenbrier, acorns and other nuts, etc), and dried weeds for arrangements. The trick with weeds is to be sure they’re dry enough and have already gone to seed-else you’ll have the seeds blowing around your house! The sycamore balls are nice to use too; you can actually use them for Christmas tree decorations. And hickory shells, halved, make the cutest owls. It’s hard to describe but when you see a half hickry shell you’ll see immediately how to use two of them to make an owl–only a little hot glue required.

    The plant you don’t recognicze is not thistle, I think, because the leaves aren’t right and I think the scale of the photo might have thrown off the readers who thought that’s what it is. I think it’s ironweed–it has deep purple flowers; when the seeds all disperse, it leaves a lovely little flower shaped piece on the stems. Ironweed blooms in clusters so when the seeds are gone and the seedhead is dry, it looks like a dry flower. Very pretty in arrangements. I might be wrong–it’s hard to tell from the photo, but if it’s a thistle it would be very prickly! Ironweed has smooth stems.

  27. 9-25

    very nice suzanne! I used to gather stuff, don’t seem to go anywhere to find anything anymore :hissyfit:

  28. 9-25

    Jill in Ohio is right. It’s a thistle. Looks like Canada thistle to me.

  29. 9-25

    Unfortunately with 6 cats in the house I’m lucky to get a few hanging plants in my house that haven’t been eaten and one of these days I just know I’m going to find one hanging there. Of course they assume everything is theirs!!!!

  30. 9-25

    Yup. Rose hips and sumac pods are beautiful.

  31. 9-25

    What a beautiful bounty and display Suzanne!!! Another feast for the eyes!!! :mrgreen:

    I do occasionally gather pine cones or Fall leaves or nuts and try to make something decorative to display…of course I am not NEARLY creative as you are. My sister got all that and my mother. I remember buying all these flowers from Michaels once, to try and make pretty arrangements, like my coworker – they ended up looking like FUNERAL arrangements. I just don’t have a creative bone in my body..or it is ecclectic. LOL

  32. 9-25

    A friend made me a bird out of the milkweed pod. He made a round base with a dowel rod attached in the middle. He then attached the milkweed pod with the opening down to the dowel rod. He then spray painted the milkweed pod gold. A thought: attach a hanger instead of attaching it to the dowel rod and you have a pretty tree ornament, you could also add them to an arrangement, etc. :treehugger:

  33. 9-25

    I have a six year old so my house gets “decorated” all year long from nature’s bounty. *G* In the Fall he brings me pretty leaves. *G*

  34. 9-25

    Oregon also has a bounty of roadside freebies. Maple leaves , teasels(look like your thistle picture), pine cones, cat tails, Queen Anne’s lace.
    Out of my yard I can gather gourds, grapes, Love In a Mist seed pods, and Oregon grape leaves.

  35. 9-25

    I gather up a lot of the spent flowerheads from my gardens, along with the dried stuff nature leaves around. I wish we had those sweetgum pods up here – those are cool!

  36. 9-25

    Oh yes…i’m a gatherer. Will be out this weekend for a long drive to see what I can find. I love those kind of days. Beautiful pics..

  37. 9-25

    I thought of pine cones and magnolia pods and horse apples (bois d’arc?) The dogwoods have the prettiest red berries now too.

  38. 9-25

    Wow, nature seems especially full of spiky stuff!

    Great decorating ideas. I grew up with a giant grape vine wreath-type thing over the door of our living room. I never think twice about it, but it’s interesting to see reactions of people when they see it for the first time!

  39. 9-26

    I’m glad to see that someone else does this type of thing, too. I like to collect pretty colored fall leaves and put them under the glass top of my coffee table. I also strew a few over my Thanksgiving Day table.

    Blessings from Ohio…

  40. 9-26

    Chesnuts and acorns as well as wheat and corn stalks. There is such an abundance right now that I can’t think of all. I must get busy and gather.

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