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Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Shenoah White designs a fall-themed pumpkin centerpiece at Lopshire Flowers on Maplecrest Road.

Pumpkin, flowers brighten Thanksgiving table

STEP 1: Shenoah White begins creating the pumpkin centerpiece by cutting into the gourd to make a base.
STEP 2: Flexible branches, inserted into foam, add height to the centerpiece. The pieces should be about 2 1/2 times the width or height of the pumpkin.
STEP 3: Dried wheat adds another texture and height to the centerpiece Herbs such as rosemary and oregano can be substituted.
STEP 4: White adds ferns to the bouquet. She suggests placing them horizontally to cover the base of the arrangement.
STEP 5: Flowers for the arrangement are added last. Base flowers should have a head and be added before smaller blooms.

Soon enough, it will be T-Day, and no, the “T” doesn’t stand for “terrified,” unless you happen to be hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner.

Because of the other big T’s – turkey, trimmings – it’s easy to push aside another T – table.

A fresh, tabletop centerpiece really can be that final garnish to the feast. But many folks think making one is just too much, and yes, there’s that “T” again – trouble.

But Shenoah White says it doesn’t have to be. Recently the floral designer at Lopshire Flowers in Fort Wayne presented a workshop at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory on how to make an easy fall-themed centerpiece.

The centerpiece starts with a medium-sized pumpkin – now that Halloween is over, some just might be on clearance, or you may still have a serviceable one on the porch – and a bouquet of supermarket flowers, plus a couple of incidentals.

The only other costs are for a small block of florist foam (probably about 50 cents) and a small plastic container (about $1) at a craft store. You might have the former around the house and be able to improvise the latter – a plastic cereal bowl will do in a pinch.

The total expense: Less than $10. The investment of time? White went from start to finish in 15 minutes.

Step 1: Turn the bowl upside down and place it on top of the pumpkin. Trace around it with a marker, then use a sharp knife to cut a little inside the marking to take the top off the pumpkin. Place the container right side up so the rim rests on the cut – no need to take all the seeds out of the pumpkin.

Step 2: Place an appropriately sized square of florist foam so it fills in the bottom of the bowl. Then take two or three flexible branches – White used willow available at florists, but branches cut from that tree or any other flexible-branch tree such as weeping cherry, will work – bend them into a loop as shown in the Step 2 photo and secure the ends with a twist-tie or florist wire. Make two. The pieces should be about 2 1/2 times the width or height of the pumpkin. Place one straight up slightly to the right of center and one horizontally so the loop is on the left. You can secure them to the foam square with florist clips although untwisted paper clips bent in half or strong wire will do. If you wish, cut the branches at the center of the upright loop.

Step 3: Cut two sets of two or three sprigs of dried wheat (available at craft and florist shops) two to five inches shorter than the branches. Place just to their right. Roadside cattails, wild teasel (those weeds that form oval burrs at the top), ornamental grass or tall, sturdy sprigs of herbs such as oregano or rosemary from the garden can be substituted.

Step 4: Cut sprigs of fern included in the bouquet into sprigs and place mostly horizontally so they cover the base of the container. If you have artificial or large real leaves, they can be substituted.

Step 5: Add flowers. Start with two tall straight ones about twice the height of the pumpkin, and one cut about three inches shorter, to add tothe center of the arrangement. White used roses, but carnations or chrysanthemums are fine. Then add “face flowers” ones with a large flowerhead, at the base of the arrangement so they can be seen from all sides. Fill in with smaller flowers or buds cut to different heights and spaced evenly. Add more greenery vertically if you’d like. Add water and place in a prominent spot on the table.