When Planets Collide: Pumpkins, Paintings & Petals

jbryanArrangements, How-To, Projects13 Comments

I have a thing for paintings and I have a thing for pumpkins and I have a well documented thing for flowers. When those three planets collide, it’s a very happy day for me.

So what does one do when planets collide? Here is what I did, and when I was all finished I feel like I tackled something I have been challenged by for eons. That is styling a setting in my house so that everything I want to display looks like it “goes”.

Fact 1:

I have an amazingly talented friend who paints beautiful paintings, and I finally bought one from her. Check out Rena’s website and admire her talent like I have done for years. Here is the picture I bought, and had framed:


Fact 2:

I have a thing for pumpkins, and have grown them in my front yard (!!!) to the delight of neighborhood kids for several years. It just so happens, the picture I bought from Rena is a pumpkin!

Fact 3:

I have always wanted to arrange flowers a la House Beautiful, in a way that would make my new picture look great, and so the flowers I arranged would compliment it.

Fact 4:

I think Fact 3 is a universal challenge for many people. How do I buy flowers, and use them so that they leverage the other things in my house that I love?

So here is what I did:

Here is the space that I was working with: a table a painting and a wall waiting for sprucing up.


I knew that there were a few non-essential items I had lying around the house that I really wanted to include on the table with the painting and the flowers I was arranging. Here they are:


The first problem I came across was the vase I choose was too short. My solution? Add accessories, in this case a stack of old books to prop up the vase and create an interesting eye-line and hierarchy to the table. Looks better doesn’t it?



Now that the boring non-flower items were taken care of, I got to get to the fun part: arranging flowers!! For this project, I bought seeded eucalyptus and a bunch of what I think might be milk weed, labeled as a Fall Mix from Trader Joe’s. Here is what it looks like with just the seeded eucalyptus.


Since that wasn’t quite enough oomph for the look I wanted, next I added the milk weed flowers, and a few stems of the pods that were on some of them stems. This is about where I think I hit my mark–I liked how the elements work together.


One of the best thing about arranging flowers is that changing the look and feel of the arrangement (looser and crazy vs. stricter and tighter) is as simple as moving stems. And just like floral arranging, sometimes the items you’re working with don’t feel exactly right so you can switch things around a try different looks. So, just to see if there was another combination I would like better, I also tried the arrangement another way, with different accessories.


Alright, it’s time to sound off–which one do you like better?

Plus, don’t forget to check out our Bout Bonus round, for this week, using leftover sprigs of seeded eucalyptus, and milkweed.

jbryanWhen Planets Collide: Pumpkins, Paintings & Petals
  • Andrea Kennedy

    The first vignette looked disproportionate before adding the the books under the vase. The box overwhelmed the lovely painting. Elevating the arrangements and your choice of flowers and colors allowed the eye to travel creating a very pretty setting. #1 is my fav.

  • Julie Edwards Bryan

    Thanks Andrea! I was thinking what you were thinking, the box overwhelms the painting, but you put it into words I could not get too! You are a pro at this interior design stuff, aren’t you?

    • Andrea Kennedy

      Thanks Julie. Don’t use my professional skills much these days but the roots are deep. What is that kind of pumpkin in the painting called? I’ve used them the last two years – getting them from roadside stands. The textures are so cool!

      • Julie Edwards Bryan

        It’s called a peanut pumpkin!

  • Diane Hobbs

    I love the one with the yellow box- it complements the flowers, and yes, adding the books was the right move! I might try the stones on the table surface and see how that looks, too… The second vignette with the glass accessories, I’m sure looks good at home too but doesn’t show up well in the photo. Do love the arrangement itself, too!

    • Julie Edwards Bryan

      Thanks for weighing in. That yellow box has been kicking around our family for years, and is usually by the fireplace, so thought it was time to raise it’s profile a bit. The glass accessories and the wooden mortar and pestle are from my Grandfathers pharmacy back in the day. The arrangement is nice, but short lasting. Milkweed does not have a long life in the vase.

      • Diane Hobbs

        I love having special family things that also work well with our own style. and how cool that your grandfather had a pharmacy-

        • Julie Edwards Bryan

          I think so too! It was in New Rochelle, NY.

  • Anne Hart

    I like the bottom composition with the little things! However, I don’t like that pumpkin much! What is growing all over it! I like the smooth beautiful shape that one usually sees! I like the arrangement, too! Hmmm? I think the books are ok, but I would have made the arrangement taller and left the books out. I was taught somewhere that the arrangement should be 1 1/2 times the height of the container.

    • Julie Edwards Bryan

      That pumpkin is called a peanut pumpkin, and believe it or not, are bred to grow that way! They have become quite popular at the pumpkins patches in the last few years, along with white pumpkins, grey or blue pumpkins and other gnarly gourds and squashes. I agree with you on the height, but sometimes you have to work with the cards (or flowers) you are dealt, and that was the case here. I can make flowers shorter, but can’t make them taller, hence the book props.

  • Anne Hart

    I did go to Rena’s website and some of her work is absolutely breathtaking! I paint and I wish I had 1/2 her talent!!!!

    • Julie Edwards Bryan

      me too! She is amazing.

  • Anne Rosenbaum

    I believe the milkweed in your arrangement is tropical milkweed (asclepias curassavica). It grows in Northern Virginia area as an annual. In studies conducted by my elementary students, Monarch butterflies preferred it when it was offered as a choice with common milkweed, butterfly weed and swamp milkweed. I find that it does not hold up as well in arrangements as butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) but love the variegated colors. I like your first composition better – I think that punch of mustard yellow ties it all together. I always find it amazing how arrangements strike people differently — so I guess the most important person to please is yourself!