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A Fall Centerpiece: Intriguing Combinations with Garden Favorites

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Even though Parterre’s gardens are formal in a design sense, I always find a few spots where I can include certain plant material that is not usually associated with French gardens, like succulents. This year, they seem to be even more a topic of conversation, going so far as to being used for decorating…pumpkins?! Inspired by a class that a talented friend recently conducted, I’m sharing this option for your Thanksgiving dinner table. Imagine a grouping of them, each one different, parading down the table. And if your gathering is multi-generational with many young ones, keep those little hands busy with creating the centerpieces. It is truly easy, as you shall see — how proud they will be (see the preview, below, from our Thanksgiving table post due on November 16th).

Choose your plants to coordinate with the color of your pumpkin. With good luck I was able to locate a soft celadon green, very ribbed specimen (I don’t think I’ve ever seen this coloration before in a pumpkin). The plums, deep purply-blues and aubergine colors in the plants are an unusual and exciting combo to try. In addition to colors, think about leaf shapes and size; the arrangement will be that much more interesting for this additional consideration.

How To Design with Pumpkins, Succulents and Begonias

Materials: Pumpkin, trailing greens, and a varied assortment of succulents and begonias.

  1. Scoop out pumpkin and fill with dirt.
  2. Plant your choice of trailing greens to come over the edge at 3-4 different points on the pumpkin’s rim.

3. Place your tallest plant in the center of the dirt.

4. Add the blue succulent off-center on the right

5. Position the plum and blue begonia off-center to the left; repeat the succulent and begonia on the other side.

6. Finally, add the deep aubergine begonia that is such a wonderful foil to the  other shades, separating yet complimenting them.

And there you are! Hope you’ve been inspired as the countdown to Thanksgiving begins.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

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