A Fleeting Fall Bouquet


A coral bark maple was in need of some pruning, and its color was at its peak, so I clipped a few branches and plopped them into water for a fall party I was having. Anytime one tries an unexpected item for cutting, there is the risk of dismal failure. Especially when the cut comes toward the end of a season. Truth be told, I was expecting the worst – the one time I tried to cut a few stalks of bamboo, the leaves fell off almost instantly. (Literally before I could finish arranging them, they started to lose their grip.) A few stalks of a flowering cup plant shed so many stamens overnight that I was starting to think it was possessed. Yet for every few failures, there is a happy, unmitigated success, like this startlingly simple yet powerfully effective bouquet of dogwood branches from this past spring.

Unlike the staying power of those dogwood branches, however, this fall bouquet was quick to shrivel. Luckily, our fall party was set to last only a few hours, so it survived intact, waiting for the night to begin its final stretch of decay.

Once it started that downhill transformation, it moved quickly – drying out in a few short hours, spent from one final fiery show. In other words, if you’re going to attempt a bouquet of fall foliage, cut it just before the party starts because it will not last the night.

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