In autumn, the glossy brown seed of buckeye trees (Aesculus indica) begins to fall. Buckeyes, also called horse chestnuts, bloom in spring in shades of yellow, red, white or dark pink. The seed forms inside fleshy outer husks that are smooth or prickly, depending on the species. A mature tree drops hundreds of seeds every fall.
The smooth fruit of Indian horse chestnut begins to open to expose its glossy, brown seed.
Photo Credit: Lane Greer
Buckeye garlands are easy to make and last for years.
Photo Credit: Lane Greer
Buckeyes are considered good luck charms, but there are other ways to use them. Buckeye necklaces, for example, are a big hit with Ohio State students and alumni. In the classic university-pride necklace, buckeyes are separated by red and gray beads. But you don’t need to be an Ohio State fan to partake in the buckeye fun – celebrate the harvest season with your family by making decorative buckeye garlands for your home! (Important note: This is not a project for tiny children. Buckeyes are poisonous if ingested. Parents, warn your kids not to put the seed in their mouths, and watch them carefully.)
Once the seed begins to fall off the trees naturally (beginning around mid-September), you’re ready to begin. (If you pull it off the tree before then, the seed will be immature and shrivel unattractively. It’s best to be patient and let nature do its thing.)
To make a 6-foot garland, you’ll need:
- 50 to 60 buckeyes (10 to 11 for every foot of garland)
- 60 beads or spacers
- Jewelry wire, available in the beading section at craft stores (Buckeyes are heavy, so use a heavy wire, such as 0.018 inches in diameter.)
- A drill with a 1/16-inch bit
Step 1: Drill the buckeyes. (Adults only!) Although the seed looks impenetrable, its interior is actually soft and pretty easy to drill. When making my garland, I held each buckeye between two fingers of my left hand and drilled with my right (and I still have all my fingers).
Step 2: Using the wire, string the buckeyes and beads. (I alternate the two, but use any combination you or the kids like.)
Step 3: Finish by tying knots in the end of the garland. If you want to hang your creation, leave “tails” at the ends (about a foot).
Decorating your home for fall usually involves a few pumpkins, some hay bales, and a chrysanthemum or two. Why not add something different to your autumn décor with unusual buckeye garlands? After all, someone has to be a trendsetter. Why not you?