Monday, October 5, 2015

Southern Exposure: French Autumn Wreath

Imagine that you exit the highway and turn down a country road, driving through a tunnel of trees not quite yet turned to gold. You turn into a driveway and spot this.

You have arrived at Southern Exposure for a fall decorating workshop, a fabulous dinner and with enough time to walk through the gardens and savor fall's bounty.


We were there for the French autumn wreath workshop and made sure we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy the gardens.

It may be the last days of summer but everything was in bloom and the world was splashed with color, even if the leaves hadn't quite caught up!

The trademark birdbaths had, of course, flowers and pumpkins.

Angels sat quietly by potted hydrangea.


In fact, there were hydrangea everywhere -- fitting, as they would be a big part of our creative project!

I can't get enough of them!

And in the gazebo, a chandelier and a glass of wine made a pretty pairing.

Even the greenhouse was open with the light shining through.


Zinnias filled the world with splashes of bright colors, attracting butterflies and bees.

Dusty Miller encircled a bed of tall purple salvia.

Seasonal vignettes were around every corner.

It was almost disappointing when we were called in for dinner but we knew that we were in for a treat.

The dining room carried the holiday theme of beautiful decorations.

Meanwhile the food was as divine as the setting, with pork tenderloin with roquefort sauce, mashed potatoes with French tarragon and French thyme, haricots verts, a Parisian-inspired salad with pears and brie and creme brulee for dessert.

Then it was off to the craft tent to make our wreaths. We'd already seen the sample, above.

We started out with a wreath form, a pile of PG hydrangeas and a basket of silk leaves and faux berries and nuts. Our guide, Micah, explained that our wreath was called a French wreath because the base reflected the smaller doors one might find on some French homes. It was less wide than some of the American wreath forms. And it used the natural flowers.

The hydrangea (hortensia) would dry as the wreath aged. Eventually we could remove the fall elements and add pine or other seasonal bits to change it up.

I think we had more fun than anyone should be allowed to have, wiring our flowers to the base and adding in the extra touches. When all was finished we got to pack them into a large wreath box and take home any of the extra leaves and flowers we didn't use.

Before adding the leaves and nuts

Those I was with agreed it may have been our favorite of all the Southern Exposure workshops we've attended. Certainly I was thrilled with the finished product and eager to put it up -- my first decoration for fall!

And in place from a "wide shot" (before I got the rest of the October decorating done!)

And now that I've drawn "first blood," perhaps the rest of the fall decorating will be a little easier. But gently, gently!


bj said...

O, I love your beautiful wreath...and love even more that you had such a fabulous and fun time with your friends, all making a pretty wreath.
I need to make one for my front door but just about the time I get it all out and made and hanging, I will want to start on Christmas...
*heavy sigh....

Deb said...

What a beautiful place to spend a day. Your photos are lovely. Your wreath is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. Enjoy. Deb

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanie! I'm jealous! :) What a lovely place, the gorgeous table setting and the food sounded divine! Then your pretty wreath! Looks good, my friend! Hope all is well in your world.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia :)

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanie! I'm jealous! :) What a lovely place, the gorgeous table setting and the food sounded divine! Then your pretty wreath! Looks good, my friend! Hope all is well in your world.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia :)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow, Southern Exposure looks like a magical place! I love that you have this tradition of taking classes there! From the arrival to the meal to the crafting - it all sounds just wonderful. Talk about a feast for the senses! Their grounds are just stunning! I can see why you were sad to be pulled into dinner (although it sounded delicious).

Your wreath is gorgeous! I love that the flowers will dry with time and you can change out the items you've add so it can move with you through the seasons of the year!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I just loved this: going on an imaginary journey down a country lane with you and coming upon such a wondrous sight and experiences! Your pictures were beautiful and made me feel that I had, indeed, tagged along with you! The dinner sounded perfect and the wreaths were gorgeous. The best one of all ended up as part of your fall decor! So inspiring....even though I don't have the artistic talent you do, I can imagine along with you! Thanks for yet another wonderful creative adventure!

Joanne Huffman said...

A lovely wreath!

Mae Travels said...

that's the funniest little angel... looks so chilly, as if its wings can't warm it up.

annie said...

Can't say it enough. I. LOVE. FALL.

Jenny Woolf said...

What a beautiful and professional looking wreath! I would have been so proud if I had made it. Southern Exposure looks like a beautiful place just to wander around, too.

Victoria Zigler said...

It sounds like it was beautiful and fun... As usual!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

So lovely my friend!

Anonymous said...

I loved the table setting with the beverage glasses.

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Jeanie,
What a great day! Love the old cars too...
The wreath is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing

Marilyn Miller said...

Be still my heart. It all is just stunning. Your photographs are gorgeous, but that one with the sun shining on the hydrangeas is just plain amazing. I could see it in a card. Love your wreath too. How I would love doing this with you, as I know I say every time you cover an event you attend here.

Bella Rum said...

Your photos have the look of a long ago time. Beautiful. The wreath is just lovely. I wish we had something like your workshop around here. Maybe we do. It would be so much fun to do it with a friend. Nothing beats hydrangea. Love 'em.

joyce said...

love the hydrangea wreath.....I love hydrangeas too but alas, they don't fare well in our cold climate. What a beautiful setting you had for your class!

Gwen said...

I love making wreaths! Yours is gorgeous!

Sustainable Furniture said...

Your photos are lovely. Your wreath is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. I love that the flowers will dry with time and you can change out the items you've add so it can move with you through the seasons of the year! So inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

Tracy said...

Ooo... HOORAY--back it that LOVELY place! Do they offer rooms for rent? ;o) I love how even the birdbaths are decorated for the season! LOVE the hydrangea mixed in with all the autumn goodies--in all the details, and especially in the wreath! Your beautiful wreath looks happy at home in your cozy living room/sitting room!! What a wonderful room. I'm headed for that chair with the quilt, you know?! ;o) Hope you're having some good days now decorating and settling into autumn. I'm coming up for air a bit here and finally catching up with friends. Autumn garden clean up took longer than expected... LOL! And doing some indoor autumn cleaning... ((LOVE & HUGS))

The Artful Diva said...

wonderful decorating ideas for autumn, Jeanie - Southern Exposure should put you on the payroll!

Arti said...

Beautiful decorations with pumpkins. And exactly what I was amazed at during my road trip (yes, just came back a couple of days ago). I'd seen so many orange colors not on trees but on still green lawns. And everywhere else. Looks like I need to do a road trip right in your neck of the woods and further. Indeed, next trip I'd like to go inland further to the Midwest. Will post soon. :)

Jennifer Richardson said...

What a delicious outing....the whole wonderful package!
I love the idea of a hydrangea wreath! Simple brilliance.
So inspired:) Thank you for that. For all of the you
that shines so bright and beautiful over here:)

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

I just read the comment before mine and I agree with Jennifer.
Delicious outing-oh my goodness, you surely savored the wine, cheese, company, gardens, hydrangeas and each moment. What an experience and I am in complete awe of the beauty of the wreath you made!
Love this post!

Tammie Lee said...

such wonderful
and photographs
beautiful fall experiences
and now memories

~*~Patty S said...

I always look forward to your Southern Exposure excursions.
They really do have it all going on
your photos are just splendid too Jeanie!
Love the soft pretty colors of the hydrangeas you all got to play with.
Now you'll get to enjoy them for a nice long while ♥
One of the hydrangea pics with the sun streaming in looks like a painting.
Looks like another memorable and delicious time.
Thank you for sharing.

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