Life & Design

How to make a candelabra centerpiece

Create a fairytale candelabra centerpiece for fall using the last of the season's blooms – from floral designer Brigitte Girling

moss covered candelabra flower display
(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

When it comes to decor that elevates your table from everyday supper spot to guest-ready entertainment zone – consider this artful candelabra centerpiece. 

Created from a moss-covered candelabra dressed with dahlias, it's the kind of scene-stealing table centerpiece that will seal your status as a stylish hostess. 

So, the next time you're thinking of dining room ideas, this will help you dress your room to impress. 

How to make a candelabra centerpiece

If you're looking for fall table decor ideas, this candelabra centerpiece is perfect. 

'Tablescaping is a huge trend, especially as intimate dinners have replaced large-scale events like parties over the past few months,' says Andréa Childs, Editor of Country Homes & Interiors

'The art of combining flowers and foliage, flatware, glasses, table accessories and glassware brings beauty to the table. It's also a moment to pause during all the prep, and appreciate being able to share your home and table with family and friends.'

'You might decide to create a single standout focal point, such as this moss-covered display, or use a range of dining table styling tricks to make each place setting truly special. Just don't stress and enjoy the opportunity to get creative!'

moss covered candelabra flower display

(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

'This design captures the last hurrah of summer and shift into fall,' says floral designer Brigitte Girling of Moss & Stone, who created the display. 'With dahlias, cosmos and scabious, and blowsy roses, it's a tribute to nature's bounty.

'Position this on a table, indoors or out, to create a magical talking point for a celebration. But please do not leave candles unattended.'

You will need:

  • Perennials: 15 spirea foliage; 10 scabiosa columbaria, flower and seed heads; 10 coreopsis ‘Starlight’; 50 mixed dahlia, such as 'Jowey Winnie', 'Preference' and 'Diana's Memory'; 15 roses, such as ‘A Shropshire Lad’, ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Chandos Beauty’.
  • Half Hardy Annuals: 7 cosmos ‘Purity’; 10 phlox ‘Crème Brulee’.
  • Moss from the lawn, or sphagnum from a reputable source, to cover the candelabra.
  • Garden twine.
  • Floral wire and chicken wire.

Brigitte Girling grows the flowers for her displays in her own chemical-free wildlife garden.

1. Wrap your candelabra centerpiece with moss

moss wrapped candle

(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

Wrap your candelabra with moss. This takes time, but using garden twine, wrap a handful of moss in place by winding the twine over it tightly. 

Do not cut the twine; just keeping adding new clumps of moss. Go lightly, this doesn’t have to be perfect.

2. Create a moss ball

moss covered candelabra flower display

(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

Wet the moss in water, squeeze out the excess and firm into a ball shape.

Wrap your moss ball in a small compostable bag. This will help retain moisture and prevent dripping.

Now wrap with a layer of chicken wire, folding the sides and ends of the chicken wire into itself to hold the shape. This will also help to support the stems.

Attach the moss to the top cup of your candelabra with floral wire or twine. Keep wrapping until the moss ball is secure.

3. Start arranging your flowers

moss covered candelabra flower display

(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

Cutting each stem at a sharp 45 degree angle, add in the spirea to create an outline shape. Punch the stems through the bag and into the moss.

Fill in with the roses and dahlias, always ensuring they are at different angles and heights and of varied shape and color.

Now add in the seedheads and 'floaty' flowers to create movement.

4. Add the candles to finish

moss covered candelabra flower display

(Image credit: Brigitte Girling/Moss & Stone)

Place the candles in the holder, removing or repositioning any flowers that are a potential fire risk.

This design should last three or four days in a cool room. Spritz occasionally with water to prolong the display.

4 essential floral design elements for a candelabra centerpiece

'I like to think of my flowers as dancing and singing together in my candelabra centerpieces, so I have given the four key floral design elements theatrical names to help you remember them,' says Brigitte Girling. 

'Giving some consideration to the role your flowers play in each design really helps when it comes to selecting and using them.'

1. Stage 

The framework within which everything else sits. Think delicate foliage, flowering branches, sweet pea vines, clematis, honeysuckle, hellebore, single architectural leaves and jasmine.

2. Chorus 

The beautiful backing singers filling the gaps, distracting the eye and supporting the leading ladies. These might be phlox, achillea, sweet pea, blossom, sweet rocket, calendular, smaller roses and ranunculus, hydrangea and wall flowers.

3. Divas 

The big showoff elements that demand attention. Often these are kept to a minimum. Consider peonies, roses, dahlias, chrysanthemums, iris, zinnia, and perhaps hellebores, foxgloves and ranunculus.

4. Dancers 

The floaty elements that sit above the rest of the design. Again, these are usually kept to a minimum. I like poppies, seed heads, fritillaria, small ranunculus, cow parsley, aquilegia, phlox, epimedium, cosmos and delicate blossom.

Andrea Childs
Andrea Childs

I've been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since my first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. I went from women's magazine Options to Frank, a brand new title from the publishers of The Face and Arena. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where I stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. Two children and a move to the coast meant it was time to shift into freelancing, and I spent 14 exciting years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. When I was offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, I couldn't resist – and now I combine that role with developing the H&G Country channel.