Autumn has officially arrived and is making itself known with the odd chilly moment. Scarves and jumpers are de rigueur here at McQueens right now and whilst we are not quite sporting the apple cheeks and woolly hats just yet, our Daisy Dukes and skimpy tops are being packed away for the season. Florist’s shops are notoriously chilly places to work during autumn and winter and we are navigating the shift in temperature with aplomb. Autumn brings with it many surprises and its fascinating to see shades bleed from summer pastel blues and pinks to the golds and oranges that are synonymous with this time of year. There are autumnal flowers aplenty, far too many delights to squish into one blog, so today we celebrate the foliage, shrubs, berries and fruits of the season and dedicate this post to some of our favourites
Autumn heralds many things but fallen leaves are an annual occurrence at this time of year, the theatre of life and death acted out in parks and leafy lanes all around the country. No childhood is complete without the ritualistic kicking of leaves into huge piles and flopping amongst the yield, or flinging handfuls of oak leaves into the air. Losing a knuckle to all ill-fated conker fight is another requirement of childhood but for us, autumnal foliage and in particular oak is a much-loved symbol of the season. We use their leaves liberally in almost everything at this time of year and whilst we understand that it’s difficult to control dear old Mother Nature, we favour dainty sized foliage with a ting of red rather than oak leaves the size of elephant ears.
Rosehip is cultivated in a number guises with varieties such as ‘pumpkin’ that is clustered at the top of the stem and is ideal for the inclusion of a hand-tied bouquet. But we love the meandering splendour of varieties such as ‘rosa corallo red’ which is quite magnificent, lasts in a vase for weeks and weeks and is effortlessly charming. The longer varieties of rosehip can transform a room with a delicately placed stem, in a carefully chosen vase and can make a conceptual statement that you will admire the whole season.
Bramble or blackberry is a delightful addition to the menu of beauties at this time of year, another specimen that harks back to the autumn of our youth when late summer and early autumn was spent either scrumping for apples or foraging for blackberries. If you weren’t indulging in these pursuits you would be either recovering from torn knee ligaments (ill-fated falls from apple trees) soothing an upset stomach (eating unwashed berries) or sat sheepishly in a crisis meeting with disgruntled neighbours after having ransacked their prize-winning gardens. Setting aside a youth spent like a misfit that didn’t make it into Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and landing back to earth as a middle-aged and world-wise florist… brambles are lovely. They are cultivated on long stems and for their looks and should never be eaten but they are a delightful inclusion in almost anything at this time of year but they are not for pies.
Cotinus is a gorgeous foliage prized for its deep-plum colour. Grooming and removing the leaves with your hands is a delightful pleasure at this time of year as cotinus has a wonderful and subtle zesty scent that is a uniquely autumnal experience
Gourds are decorative fruit that is a champion of the autumn season. They are unique phenomena at this time of year and there are countless shapes, sizes and colour available. They are a precursor to the Halloween classic, the pumpkin, and are the perfect styling accessory for a rustic theme, with wooden crates, bales of natural string and rusty garden implements. Autumn just wouldn’t be the same without them!