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Autumn Flower Centerpiece by Kiana of Tulipina

by Grace Bonney

I love my garden; it is my place of peace and harmony. Every morning before I start my busy day, I take a few minutes to see what new things are happening. Autumn is indeed in full swing here in San Francisco, and even though I still have some beautiful varieties growing, I know that most are getting ready to go to sleep for the (brief) winter. So, I gathered what still looked good — plus, some heirloom tomatoes from the vegetable boxes — to create this arrangement. With the exception of a peony from an event two weeks ago that wouldn’t open on time, everything here is from my garden and yard. The colors in autumn are rich and gorgeously striated, variegated, and stippled, and as the days get shorter, I really enjoy creating with some of these darker palettes. I hope that you’ll take a walk around your yard or neighborhood and see what you can create as well. —Kiana Underwood of Tulipina

Photography by Nathan Underwood

About Kiana: Kiana is the owner of Tulipina, a boutique design studio located in San Francisco, California. Kiana’s passion for flowers began in her grandfather’s garden, and being surrounded by nature from a young age stirred a passion for design that can be seen in her floral work today. In addition to weddings and events, Kiana teaches sold-out workshops to students across the globe.

That heuchera, with its pink dots, really stole my heart. Autumn has certainly left its beautiful marks on this leaf!

Garden gatherings.

Flowers: Poppy, peony, viola (pansy), columbine, camellia, bougainvillea.

Foliage and fruits: Pistachio, sugar maple, birch, heuchera, cotoneaster berries and heirloom tomatoes.

When creating arrangements, I always keep three elements in mind: color, shape, and balance. I want to bring nature into a vase and showcase it as it looked in the wild or in the garden. Note: Floral pin frogs are my primary means for keeping an asymmetric arrangement secure in a rather shallow vessel.

Begin with the foliage/branches. When you are placing the branches amongst the pins of the floral frog, be sure to create balance by inserting around the edges as well as in the center. (See below)


Add the tomatoes. Given that they are the heaviest components in this arrangement, please ensure that the floral frog pins secure the stems. (I also inserted a couple of wooden skewers in selected tomatoes, using them as stems, to disperse the weight around the vessel.)


Add your focal flower. I generally pick one large flower as my focal flower, and here the peony is used for that purpose. You can certainly use any large flower at your disposal — a large rose or dahlia — or even a lovely, large mum that is in season right now.


Continue with the violas (pansies) and a couple of columbines. I am pretty obsessed with violas; I have them in different shades all over the garden and various planters, and when their stems grow tall, I am delighted because I can use them in my arrangements. They also last beautifully cut and in water.


As a final, happy touch, add the poppies. Icelandic poppies are in season in California right now, and I love how much asymmetry and life that they add to this arrangement.

That heuchera! It is such a beautiful complement to the pink camellias.

Floral design and styling by Kiana Underwood / Tulipina Floral Design (Instagram/Twitter)

Photography ©2015 Nathan Underwood (Twitter)

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