Created for Thanksgiving Day celebrations, this table decoration honors holiday traditions while incorporating modern influences.
Floral design, photography and text by Nita Robertson AIFD, CFD
“Thanksgivings”—celebrations of the harvest and other blessings received throughout the year—have been rituals in North America since the mid-1800s, but it was not until 1942 that “Thanksgiving Day” was proclaimed a national holiday in the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. Canadians celebrate the holiday on the second Monday in October.
Because of its long and storied history, the holiday is rich in tradition and symbolism, among them being gathering with family and friends for a repast of customary fare—turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie—at tables bedecked with fresh flowers, fruits, grains and grasses of the harvest season. This centerpiece, in traditional autumnal hues, checks all those boxes while presenting a more modern interpretation. Keeping sustainability in mind, and with regard to the agricultural ethos associated with the holiday, I chose FibreFloral™ Design Media, from Smither Oasis North America—which is derived from natural volcanic basalt rock—as my design mechanic.
STEP BY STEP
Soak FibreFloral™ Design Media in flower nutrient solution until fully saturated. Cut the brick to fit snugly into the container, and place it into the container so that it extends 1 inch or so above the rim of the container, to allow for stem insertions into the side of the brick.
DESIGN TIP: Cut FibreFloral™ Design Media with serrated knife.
Tape three or four pieces of 18-gauge enameled florist wire to the sides of each taper candle, near the bottom, with waterproof tape, to create “prongs” that can be inserted into the FibreFloral™ Design Media. Carve a 1-inch diameter hole into the surface of the design media with a serrated knife for each candle, at least ½-inch deep, and insert the wire-pronged bases of the candles into the holes. (Alternatively, secure candles into the design media using Handy Hold™ 1” Candle Holders.) Once the candles are in place, you can further secure the design media into the container with waterproof tape, if desired.
DESIGN TIPS: Space the candles far enough apart so that the heat from each candle won’t accelerate the melting of the other, and make sure they are perfectly straight. Also, choose candles that are tall enough to burn for at least two to three hours without nearing the flowers. (Standard taper candles burn approximately 1¼ inches per hour when there is little to no air movement around them; they burn faster in spaces with circulating air, such as that produced by a ceiling fan. Continuously flickering flames are a sign of excessive air movement.) You can use candles of different lengths or the same length; just be sure to factor in the burn time for the shorter of the two candles.
Arrange roses in a linear cluster diagonally through the center of the design, to create a focal area. Arrange roses at varying heights to create depth.
Arrange stems of fresh Eucalyptus and dried millet and wheat into opposite sides of the design media, to create the horizontal form of the design and establish the desired length. Next, arrange stems of miniature Gerbera to fill voids and create additional dimension.
Arrange curving stems of miniature callas, to introduce interest and dynamic movement into the center of the design.
DESIGN TIPS: At room temperature, the stems of miniature callas are somewhat flexible (although still delicate), enabling you to manipulate the curvature of the stems by gently and repeatedly running your thumb along the “underside” of the stems. Because calla stems are soft and spongy, you can bore small holes into the design media to accommodate their placement and tape short pieces of 18-gauge wire to the base of each stem with waterproof tape (similar to the technique used with the taper candles), to create “prongs” that will facilitate easier and more secure insertion of the stems into the design media.
Secure calla stems to other stems with aluminum wire, to help maintain their curves and secure them in place. Coil the ends of the aluminum wire to create decorative finishes.
Wire the stems of several black grape clusters to wood picks, and arrange them into the design to fill voids and add a harvest season aesthetic.
• Rosa spp. (hybrid tea rose)
• Zantedeschia rehmannii hybrid (miniature calla)
• Gerbera jamesonii/Gerbera × hybrida, miniature double (Transvaal daisy, Barberton daisy, African daisy, Veldt daisy)
• Eucalyptus polyanthemos (silver-dollar gum, silver-dollar tree, red-box gum)
• Triticum aestivum, dried, dyed (wheat)
• Echinochloa esculenta, dried (barnyard millet, Japanese millet)
• Vitis vinifera (black grape)
• Ceramic pedestal compote
• FibreFloral™ Design Media from Smithers-Oasis
• OASIS™ Aluminum Wire (Apple Green)
• OASIS® Midnight Waterproof Tape
• OASIS™ Florist Wire (18 gauge)
• Wired wood picks (4 inch)
• Taper candles (10 inches in length, minimum)
• Handy Hold™ 1” Candle Holders from Smithers-Oasis (optional)