CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Julie Robinson wants everyone to know that they can make beautiful fall decorations from their own backyards.
"Autumn is my favorite time of year. I really like the dusty colors," Robinson said as she gestured to six floral arrangements and centerpieces she made the evening before that could be used to decorate a dining room table or front porch stoop.
The Fort Hill resident, a former features writer for the Charleston Gazette, was named executive director of the West Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association in June.
She also started a small business, Natural Elements, last year. She creates custom designs from fresh and seasonal materials.
"I've always liked to decorate with fresh things, and I think about how things will look together. This is all from nature," she said, turning to a cornucopia arrangement of small winter squash, bittersweet vine, pyracantha, boxwood, hydrangeas, mums and goldenrod.
"When I make floral arrangements and centerpieces, I include as much seasonal, fresh and locally grown materials as possible. I am inspired by the natural beauty of garden flowers and woodsy materials," Robinson said.
"I find things in season, whether in my own yard or walking in the woods. I buy some things when necessary or when something is requested. I avoid artificial, but sometimes it is necessary for front doors that get a lot of sun and exposure," Robinson said.
"Wildflowers don't last as long in cut arrangements but there are things you can do to condition them to last longer. You can use an oasis, the water absorbent form, cut them the day before, and place them in water," she said.
Robinson creates centerpieces, bouquets, wreathes, outdoor urns/pots and window boxes featuring eye-catching plant combinations for mild weather or wintry greens, branches and berries in cold weather.
Her designs often feature vintage containers, or the customer's special vessels.