by Jenn Fisher, Washoe County Master Gardener Program Assistant
Fall crafts are not just for Halloween; you can collect fall-inspired items from your landscape to incorporate in your home. Fall décor is not only carved pumpkins and spider webs but can also include pumpkins and other gourds from your own garden in an array of colors, shapes and sizes, fall-colored leaves or branches from your favorite trees, or ornamental corn with kernels of vibrant blues and purples. If you didn’t plant ornamental corn this year, you may check out your seed catalogs for next year. Some varieties of corn with fun colors include ornamental dent corn in earth tones or red, painted hill sweet corn or Dakota black popcorn.
You may have just finished your harvesting, or you may be about to do your fall pruning. Clean-up is on the horizon, but before you throw all those leaves in bags and forget about them, you may start thinking about how you can bring them into your holiday decorations. A little inspiration is all you need to get your creative gears turning. Here are just a couple of fun fall crafts you can do to create a cozy and inviting home during these crisp fall months.
Many crafts involve fall leaves, and as you are probably already experiencing, we have far too many leaves than most of us know what to do with. Why not use some funky shaped oak leaves or bright orange and yellow maple leaves? Some trees in your yard or a nearby park may still have leaves on their branches. You may be able to find leaves with a number of colors on them including yellow, red, purple, orange and green. If you have children or grandchildren, this can be a chance to talk about why leaves change colors in the fall, or how different trees have a variety of leaf shapes. You can make a day out of collecting leaves and viewing the beauty of deciduous fall color. Once you have collected your leaves, the crafting can begin.
You can use leaves for a variety of fall crafts that will brighten your home and provide creative centerpieces for your fall parties. Leaf bowls can become a festive candy bowl in your office or on your coffee table. All you need is a balloon, Mod Podge or similar glue, leaves and a paintbrush. Blow up the balloon and brush glue onto it in a half circle. Press leaves to form the shape of a bowl and brush the glue over the leaves to make sure they are completely covered. Once the glue is dry, pop the balloon. Voila! Now you have a leaf bowl from one-of-a-kind, handpicked leaves from your own trees.
Another similar craft consists of leaves, twine, mason jars, Mod Podge or similar glue, a brush and candles. All you have to do is paint glue on the jars, press leaves of your choice to the jar and cover with glue. After the glue is dry, tie a little bit of twine around the top to finish off the look. You can put a small votive candle inside the jar and use groups of them as beautiful, fall-inspired centerpieces, or as accents to your fall décor. The ambiance created by the orange, yellow and red leaves paired with warm candle light will give your home a cozy mood for the cool fall days.
If you are doing some fall pruning on your deciduous trees, remember to make correct cuts and do not take out more than 25 percent of the canopy of your trees. Trees like birch have branches you can use to add additional fall vibes to your home. You can use wisps of thinner branches as a centerpiece at holiday dinners, or put a branch on the mantel with some leaves dangling in front of the fireplace. These added touches give you a chance to recycle otherwise discarded items and give your home extra flair this fall.
Top Three Trees for Fabulous Fall Color
By Wendy Hanson Mazet, Northern Area Master Gardener Program Coordinator
This fall has been breathtaking, with a wide array of reds, oranges, bronzes and purples, not to mention the glow of golden yellow across northern Nevada. If you are inspired by the ideas of incorporating fall color into your home for decoration, you may also be considering adding some of the spectacular color into your landscape.
Here are three of the trees that do well in our area and are still showing very healthy and fresh fall color. The most widely used tree for guaranteed fall color is the ornamental pear. These trees have beautiful white flowers in spring, glossy green leaves throughout summer and a dependable fall color of purples, reds and browns. When it comes to different cultivars of this particular tree, you will not see a large change in season characteristics, but you will find many different tree forms available.
Oak trees are an all-time favorite across the country, and many do well here. Most will give brilliant shades of reds to orange with some only providing a splash of yellow and brown. Oaks are slow, big trees which try to hold their leaves throughout winter.
If you are looking for a tree that will show completely different fall color each year, look no further than the Sweetgum, also called Liquidambar. With its star-shaped leaves and uniform branch structure, this tree has appeal all year. Sweetgums have fall color ranging from purples to reds, browns, and oranges to almost pastel colors. They are rarely the same from year to year.
Depending on temperatures and moisture in the air from year to year, these trees will add something more to your yard. Finding what’s right for your home may take a little research. When it comes to choosing a tree, take your time, look around and don’t be afraid to try something new.
Jenn Fisher is the Washoe County Master Gardener program assistant and Wendy Hanson Mazet is the Northern Area Master Gardener coordinator with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Garden questions? Ask a Master Gardener at 775-336-0265 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit growyourownnevada.com.