happy thanksgiving + floral centerpiece: love ‘n fresh

by Grace Bonney

I’m overjoyed to wrap up our week with a beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece from Jennie Love at Love ‘n Fresh Flowers. I received many emails from people asking for last-minute decoration ideas, so I couldn’t think of a better way to start Thanksgiving than with some beautiful ideas that you could easily mimic with local flowers from your yard, pumpkins and succulents. Whether you recreate the full look or just a miniature version for two, Jennie’s centerpiece is a warm and beautiful way to welcome guests to your table today. Thank you to Jennie and all of the florists who shared their ideas with us this week — our tables (and guests) have you all to thank. I’ll let Jennie take it from here, but from everyone here at D*S, best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving. We’ll see you on Monday! xo, grace

I was thrilled when Grace asked me to create a Thanksgiving centerpiece to share with all of you. Autumn is a wonderful time of year for colors and textures in floral designs; it’s by far my favorite season for that very reason. And yet, so often, I see folks just grabbing a tired bunch of cut mums from the grocery store to shove in their cart beside the bag of stuffing. Every Thanksgiving table deserves to be decked out with truly fresh and lovely floral finery! Today I’m going to walk you through the process of creating this arrangement, staying true to our mission at Love ‘n Fresh, which is to work “from seed to centerpiece,” using only locally grown flowers. — Jennie

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post and full how-to!

In my business, Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, our mission is to work “from seed to centerpiece,” using only locally grown flowers instead of relying on the imported stuff from South America and beyond. There are many reasons I’ve made the decision to grow all the flowers myself, not least of which is the satisfaction I get from watching them grow. But the most important reason is really that locally grown flowers are so much fresher, more colorful and exponentially longer-lasting than the imports.

It can be a real struggle though, here in Philadelphia, to find locally grown flowers at Thanksgiving. Using a locally grown heirloom pumpkin as the “container” for this design made it seasonally festive and allowed for a more earthy natural atmosphere that would happily host funky items like dried poppy pods, grapevine and broom corn. In the end, only a handful of fresh flowers was needed.

I realize most of you don’t have a flower field to raid like I do, but you can use any number of floral elements in this design. For instance, blueberry and strawberry leaves turn scarlet and orange in November and make long-lasting foliage fillers for bouquets. Succulents are readily available at most garden centers and after you’re done with them in the centerpiece, you can stick them back in soil to re-root; they make great house plants all through the winter. Really, the only “rule” here is to use what’s around you, hopefully material you can collect from your own garden or at the farmers’ market from a local flower farmer. Since this isn’t a flower-centric design, it can easily be made several days in advance, so you don’t have to juggle basting the turkey with creating the centerpiece.

For more inspiration on designing with locally grown, seasonal flowers, check out the Love ‘n Fresh Flowers Facebook page.


  • 1 heirloom pumpkin (I used a “Jarrahdale” because I love its dusky blue hue, but any will do)
  • 5 ft. of grapevine (fresh is best, but you can soak dried grapevine in a hot tub of water overnight to make it pliable again)
  • succulents (remove the root balls but leave at least an inch of stem)
  • reindeer or other moss
  • lisianthus
  • broom corn
  • blueberry leaves
  • strawberry leaves
  • oak or other tree leaves
  • dusty miller leaves
  • dried poppy pods
  • scabiosa seed heads
  • bronze fennel seed heads
  • trailing amaranth, dried or fresh
  • mini pumpkins or gourds to match your colors
  • vintage tray or other base
  • floral foam (Oasis)
  • waterproof florist tape
  • Bindwire or basic floral wire
  • scissors


To start, you have a choice with the pumpkin. You can carve into it to create a “vase” or, if you’re like me and you want to have your pumpkin and eat it too, you can use a block of wet floral foam taped to the top to support your arrangement. (If you do decide to carve into the pumpkin, it’s best to use an insert of some type — a cup or plastic storage container — to hold the water for your flowers.)

Cut the floral foam into a cube that fits the proportions of your pumpkin (mine was about 4 inches around and 3 inches tall). While it’s still dry, press the foam down over the stem of the pumpkin so that it’s centered and snug on the top. Now, soak your floral foam in water for about 10 minutes so it’s fully saturated.

While your foam soaks, work with the grapevine. Your goal is to create a “cage” that loosely surrounds the pumpkin. Let it be organic and relaxed in nature. Start by creating a circle a few inches wider all around than your pumpkin, using the Bindwire or other floral wire to secure the circle. Then loop the grapevine up and over to the other side of the circle and secure with more Bindwire, making sure it’s tall enough to fit over the pumpkin and foam by a few inches. Repeat until you have a structure that you like. Refer to the picture if this sounds confusing.

Use a length of Bindwire to go from one side of the circle to the other, securing at both sides. Put your grapevine “cage” on top of your base (tray) and then carefully slide your pumpkin into the center of it, squaring the pumpkin on top of the length of twine that went across the center of the grapevine circle. This way the grapevine won’t shift so much if you need to move the centerpiece.

Take a breath. The rest is easy!

Use the waterproof tape to secure the wet foam block to the top of the pumpkin, lining up the indent you created before with the stem. Now begin inserting the foliage and flowers. For beginner arrangers, it may be easier to start with one type of foliage (e.g., dusty miller), putting a few leaves here and there and then move to the next type (e.g., blueberry leaves), repeating until the foam is nearly covered. Then add the succulents, putting three around the foam strategically so everyone around the table will
be able to see one. Now fill in with lisianthus or other flowers so that they too are distributed evenly around for everyone to see. Don’t be afraid to let the flowers be different heights and be sure to insert some at the bottom of the foam so that they are facing downward and hugging the pumpkin. Now insert the fun textural elements: poppy pods, scabiosa seed heads, fennel seed heads and broom corn. To finish it off, stick in a few little bits of reindeer moss. Just tuck it in between the other elements and it’ll stay put; it’s a great way to fill in any “holes” you might have.

Now that you have the pumpkin decorated, turn your attention to the base (tray). Use more reindeer moss, dusty miller leaves, succulents, broom corn and amaranth around the base to make the design more dynamic. These elements will hold up to being out of water for several days. Add a few miniature pumpkins or gourds if you have them.

You’re done! Trickle a little water into the center of the design every other day to keep the floral foam wet and the flowers fresh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Suggested For You


  • Thanks for the inspiration! Michigan this time of year is a little bare as well but after a little walk around the yard I found some wonderful stuff for my own thanksgiving centerpiece.

  • Love the feel of this images! Did you use any filters or photoshop treatment? I would love to get a similar look… Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Gorgeous work Jenny! You have taken the idea of seasonal, local and sustainable to a new level. Our own gardens, sidewalks and wild places offer all the ingredients anyone needs to create a uncommon floral design. No need to use tired, imported blooms when you can create this delicious Thanksgiving arrangement! Thanks so much – I’m going to repost this! Debra Prinzing

  • so beautiful! such a great little idea, and I agree with the sentiment about the mums – there are so many oddities or less-than-common options, even in ordinary grocery stores, that can produce really lovely results.

    great job!

  • I loved the photographs for this piece, what kind of application was used to create the look? It completely captures the essence of a late autumn November. Beautiful work!

  • I love doing the Thanksgiving centerpiece for my friends here in India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where I have lived for the past 30 years. I use a beautiful old mirror as the base and a small green pumpkin as the focal point. I surround that with different color vegetables and fruits (red and yellow peppers, a small perfect eggplant, grapes, an orange) branches of whatever looks good from the garden, a few marigold and rose petals liberally strewn about and rimmed all around with diyas (little earthenware pots filled with candles). Couldn’t be simpler! Here’s a link to a photo of this year’s creation: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5851737&l=70b0af5573&id=690542097

  • Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone! It was a treat to create this design, and I’m glad to see it’s caught your fancy. For those curious about the photos, I used Photoshop Elements to play with the color tones. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as good at giving Photoshop tutorials as I am floral ones. There are various “action sets” available around the web that would help get you closer to this look if you’re not a Photoshop whiz (not that I am; I just spend a lot of time playing around in it). :-)

  • Wow that is so weird. I have been gathering silverplate & old china all of my 50 years. I have 2 saucers with the same pattern on them & the tiki- ish open pattern on one of my spoons. LOL! LOVE it!

  • Ohhh! The Canadian in me is jealous of this November Holiday which is so beautiful to decorate :) I love keeping flowers in the mix this time of year: warm and crisp all at the same time! Beautiful work and styling <3