Thanksgiving offers you the opportunity to make a flower arrangement in a container that is unique to the holiday, a cornucopia. The word comes from the Latin words cornus (horn) and copia (supply, abundance) so it is literally a “horn of plenty” and should be filled to overflowing with foliage, flowers, and/or fruits and vegetables. The key to making a pleasing arrangement in a cornucopia is capturing the look and feel of abundance.
Materials and Supplies:
Cornucopia: made of wicker, twigs, or any other material that will accommodate a flower arrangement. A variety of these are available in craft stores (and second hand stores)
Water tight container: should fit partially into the cornucopia and will accommodate a piece of floral foam. I used a utility florist container but you could also use any plastic tub such as the one that contain cottage cheese or margarine. You will probably have to cut them down by an inch.
Floral foam: enough to fit snuggly into container; usually about ½ block.
Foliage: at least 3 different kinds of greens that provide contrast in texture and color. Some foliage may come with the flowers you buy, but your garden and house plants may be able to provide all that you need. Some possibilities are boxwood, eucalyptus, privet, rosemary, fern, Indian hawthorn, nandina, clethyra, euonymus, acuba and oak (red or arrange).
Flowers in fall colors: my mixed bouquet from the supermarket had mums, sunflowers, mini carnations and statice. I added some black eyed Susan’s from my garden.
Fruits: includes berries, miniature cattails, grasses, Italian wheat, lotus pods and rose hips that look good with the flowers, as well as mini pumpkins, grapes, apples, and pears that can be used alone without flowers.
Florist wire: about 18” or enough to anchor container to cornucopia.
Florist picks: (optional) to secure fruits and berries into foam.
Florist tape: (optional) to secure foam in container.
1. Soak the foam in tepid water until saturated. Don’t hurry this process by pushing the foam down into the water as you will create air pockets that will not supply the plant stems with water. Just let the foam sink on its own as it fills with water.
2. Meanwhile, using the florist wire, secure the container into the cornucopia so that you have as much of the foam sticking out of the cornucopia as possible. Drilling small holes in the container will greatly facilitate this process, which is the hardest thing about this whole arrangement.
3. Cut the saturated foam slightly larger than the container so that it will fit very snuggly and you won’t have to tape it in. Make sure the foam stands at least 1-2” higher than the edge of the container.
4. Add the foliage. start with the long, finer textured foliage and set the outer limits of the height and length of your arrangement. Make sure that some of the long stems are set into the upper part of the foam and extend downward onto the table surface. If you have Italian wheat, mini cattails, or other tall material, add it to the upper and/or lower foliage.
5. Fill in with shorter sprigs of greenery. Don’t try to completely cover the foam.
6. You will be adding flowers and other material that will cover it. Put smaller flowers like pompom mums high up and further out front. Put the large flowers towards the center. Be sure to turn your arrangement as you work so you don’t leave any parts bare.
7. Add berries to small areas between flowers. If the berry stems are too short, wire them to florist picks. If you have no picks you can fashion some from twigs just make sure that you cut the end of each twig so that it is square in cross section. If you don’t do this the twig may turn in the foam, digging a hole in the foam and changing the position of the berries. Fruits (and vegetables) can be added by sticking one end of the fruit or vegetable and the other in the foam.
8. Add water to the container. Do this every day as the flowers and foliage will use a large amount of water and the container and foam do not hold nearly enough to keep the flowers fresh.
9. Place the arrangement in a cool dark place like a garage until the big event. This will keep them looking their best. Avoid placing the arrangement in sun light or near heating vents.
10. Snip out dead flowers and leaves as they appear to keep the arrangement looking nice. Some flowers, like mini carnations will last over a week and can look very nice with the greenery even when the other flowers have died and been removed.
The cornucopia arrangement is basically one sided, or at most, two sided, rather than round so it is best used on a side board or buffet table rather than on the dinning room table.