Sunday, October 29

What We Love Today Column: Halloween Decor--Dried Paper Lanterns



our visit to the Milk Pail in Watermill, NY

What We Love Today:
(a weekly column to inspire and educate on one design idea)
There Are Plentiful Garden Bounties This Time of Year, But Our Favorite is Dried Chinese Lanterns!
photo via House Beautiful
It's the week of Halloween, and let the fantastical exploration begin!  We go to great efforts to celebrate the macabre holiday...spooky decorations are dusted off from the far reaching corners of our closets. We don masks and whip up creative costumes in order to celebrate.  Soon, the kids will be ringing the bell to scoop up handfuls of candy.  Decorating for the season can be quite a production with home owners spinning faux spider webs, even cranking up smoke machines and carving scary jack-o-lanterns.  I like to keep it simple for this season's decorating, and often arrange unique and varying colors of pumpkins and gourds, as well as put together a bright colored, festive mix of fresh and dried flowers on my table.  One of my favorite season's offerings, are these bright colored, and oh-so-unusual Chinese Paper Lanterns.  It's likely you've seen these beauties, and they make their annual appearance throughout the fall...they're orange with a papery skin, they're dried and looks ever-so-cool arranged in a tall ginger jar or vase. With Halloween on the horizon, and all these gorgeous orange inspirations, these are top of mind.  
known as "Winter Cherry"
about these orange beauties:
 We call them Chinese Lanterns, but they're technical name is Physalis Alkakengi, and they are a relative of the Cape Gooseberry, and the cousin to peppers, tomatoes and petunias. Easy to maintain, they quickly help to give a home that unique autumn feel. Growing in the Southern European or South Asian regions, this perennial grows tall stalks with random flowers on the stem.  The flowers begin white then eventually grow into this papery, orange which is actually the cover for a round fruit inside. They are bell-shaped, and the fruit is tasteless with some sources suggesting these berries can be toxic.  There are urban legends telling tales of a Scottish king who poisoned an entire Danish army with liquor laced with these berries.  So, with these ideas, best to avoid the cherry-like berry inside.  
How To Grow:
listed as hardiness zones 3 through zone 9, Seeds should be planted in March and April.  They bloom in July and take 60 days to germinate, yet they do not fully develop into these orange beauties until early Fall
photo via decor4all.com
How to Dry:
Best to cut and dry them as soon as the white flower turns from green to this typical bright orange.  Remove the leaves on the stalks (they typically grown about 24" tall) and hang them upside down in a dark, dry spot for a few days.  Voila!  You will have these long-lasting beauties for a weeks.   
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara
photo via orange pin board
sources:  homeguide.com; wikipedia; gardenzeus.com; hirts.com