Backyard bounty: Wild Child Farms’ Kellye Jeansonne talks fresh Thanksgiving table ideas
If you’ve seen this November’s cover, you’ll notice that inRegister is taking quite a bit of inspiration from the outdoors. Call it cabin fever or a safety measure, but fresh air and open space have never seemed quite so appealing. And while we wish we had a horse barn complete with a chandelier ready for hosting our Thanksgiving meal (click here if you’re curious what that looks like), another of our November features is inspiring us as we prepare for the upcoming holiday.
This month, we took a visit to Kellye Jeansonne’s picturesque backyard garden, which acts as ground zero for her Wild Child Farms business (learn more about that here). Nestled on a generous plot of land in Zachary, her outdoor space is complete with a brick pathway running through the center of the garden and plenty of chicken-keeping space, providing the ideal area for an open-air Thanksgiving feast, especially now that a cypress table made by Jeansonne’s husband stands proudly at its center.
“I can’t wait to host my family’s Thanksgiving out here,” she says. “The table is an early Christmas present that I convinced my husband to finish right before he left for his hunting trip. It’s made of wood left over from the pergola.”
And the table is just the start of Jeansonne’s reimagining of everyday or forgotten materials. In place of large vases of flowers, Jeansonne’s table is covered with evergreen leaves interwoven with deer antlers, lanterns and freshly picked satsumas, all of which she sourced from her home and garden.
“Your yard is just full of decoration,” she explains. “I think simple is the key. It’s so easy to go outside and take a little nature walk. It’s fun and there’s so much that’s available if you take the time to look.”
True to the classes, posts and videos she produces for her Wild Child Farms followers, Jeansonne provides easy go-to tips for anyone trying to create a similar look this season. Read on for her advice:
1. Start with the green.
“Evergreen branches from shrubs–not from trees–are best,” she explains, noting that tree branches are often too stiff to work into an arrangement. “Things like ligustrum, any kind of citrus plant and boxwood branches are a great place to start. And for the grand finale, cut magnolia leaves. I like the ones that are several leaves together with the pod in the middle. So beautiful!”
2. Don’t overlook weeds.
“Weeds are perfect for this kind of thing,” says Jeansonne with a laugh. “Or things that people consider to be weeds. Look around and find what speaks to you. Who cares what it’s called! There’s this tall grass that grows in many yards right now and it’s great for a Thanksgiving table. It looks right out of Little House on the Prairie.”
3. Quarantine those plants.
“After you cut everything, let it sit for a few hours,” she explains. “Trust me, do this step. It helps get all the bugs out. You don’t want spiders running across anyone’s dinner.”
4. Lay it flat.
“Tall vases overcomplicate things,” she notes. “They’re harder to arrange and then it’s hard for people to see through them when they’re trying to have a conversation at the table. Instead, layer the different greenery on the table to create dimension that isn’t overwhelming.”
5. Spice it up.
“Fruits like satsumas and lemons look great. I also like to walk around the yard and pick up things like big acorns, pecans and walnuts,” Jeansonne says. “Then go around your house and round up other things like lanterns or deer antlers. It’s south Louisiana–our husbands have things we can borrow. Just use your imagination. From there, I see if there’s anything else I want to add, like fake birds or pumpkins that I can get from a store.”
6. Look beyond dinner.
“You don’t have to be hosting the meal at your house to decorate your table and enjoy it,” she urges. “It takes only about 30 minutes to collect all of this stuff, and it’s therapeutic. I treat this process as a reward for all the cooking I have to do.”