Text by Tovah Martin
There’s a snap in the air and a crunch underfoot, but don’t let that stop you—because a bounty awaits outdoors. Baskets full of flowers are standing by. A multitude of berries have turned rosy and plump on the shrubs. Pluck them up, and bring them close. The birds won’t mind if you stuff your pockets with some wild grape clusters to infuse your kitchen with that giddy scent. There’s plenty to spare. Fetch a few and put them in a dish in your office to sample their deep, ambrosial fragrance as you work. Harvest handfuls of fluffy seed heads from the field, and fill a vase for your bedside. Call it foraging or scavenging—the beauty of harvesting in autumn is that there are no second thoughts. Everything is about to fall.
Take your cue from the squirrels, and celebrate the season’s swan song. Go on a woodland gambol, and walk the fields. Focus on the ground underfoot as you walk; nab a few nuts strewn on the ground before someone else buries them. While the chestnuts are still cosseted in their burrs, don gloves, clip them off, and make arrangements. Cut the amaranth and love-lies-bleeding that self-sowed in your garden, and stuff them in vases.
Like your warm woollies, autumn is all about textural interplay. The fields’ fleece will make your living room feel warm. And there’s nothing like the smoldering jewel-tone shades that glimmer as the foliage changes hues on its way out. You’ll want to grab your knapsack and fill it up until it’s overflowing for a slam-bang display.
If you keep fall’s foliage cool and slightly moist, it will linger longer before turning crisp. And don’t overlook the asters along the roadside. As you whiz by at 55 mph, they might not look like much. But pull over, cut a few bunches, bundle them together, and those tiny flowers will harmonize to add volume in unison.
Always honor the rules associated with gathering. Be sure to pluck only from massive stands rather than hoarding where wildflowers are growing by onesies and twosies. Go where the broadloom is bountiful and there’s a surplus for all creatures—including you. Be sure to leave plenty of blossoms to set seeds, and spare seed heads to fall wherever you reap. Better still, grow ornamental grasses (Pennisetum is particularly textural), grains (such as amaranth), and berries (like viburnum and winterberry) to harvest, and share with nature’s other foragers. Celebrate the natural cornucopia, and wrap your home in its fleecy warmth. Do it today—tomorrow it might be gone.