Creating an Autumnal Pumpkin Design for Halloween using Foraged Foliage
There’s a particular time of year when nature offers up a brunette buffet of dried delights. You may notice them for yourself, as I did on a Sunday afternoon walk earlier in October. A cluster of teasels caught my eye and I couldn’t resist plucking a couple. Before I was fully aware of it, I had got a bit carried away and found myself at the end of my walk with an armful of other seed heads, grasses and bracken.
I can’t claim smugly that I knew what I was going to do with it all at the time of foraging. That was just a question of not being able to resist in the moment and feeling quietly confident I would come up with something…
The Autumnal Foraged Pumpkin Design seen in the photo and video above turned out to be the result. (For clarity, the pumpkin was not foraged but purchased from a greengrocer.)
It was the plant materials that inspired me first – the colours and textures and forms of autumn. The pumpkin design idea came later with a bit of Halloween spirit.
Not a Full How-To, But A Few Notes on the Making
You will notice if you watch the video, that I prepare the pumpkin by cutting out a hole in the top to fit a small washed-out food jar. I would have filled this with sand but the tide was in at the time so I used cous cous. Any other dry, fine grain would have done the job. Essentially, dry flowers need something dry to arrange into so the stems don’t rot. Then they last longer and you can also reuse them, as I did to make the wreath below. If I had arranged the stems straight into the pumpkin, the juice and moisture of its flesh would have made the dry stems damp and they would have perished.
To start the arrangement I used some bracken, with its natural traily bend to hang over the side of the pumpkin, hiding the mechanics (the jar) and creating a unity between pumpkin and foraged bits.
I arranged the materials in groups to give a natural, vegetative feel. The teasels for example are clustered in the hedgerow, they aren’t distributed evenly. My motivation was recreating a bit of the autumnal hedgerow in my home. Clusters and asymmetry seemed like the way to get there.
Repurposing the Plant Material
Having arranged my dry, foraged stems into the dry grains, I was able to reuse them for another creation after Halloween had come and gone and enthusiasm for the pumpkin had faded somewhat.
I added a few rose hips and some pheasant tail feathers and made this autumnal wreath.
She’s a little bit wild and she’s not looking to dazzle anyone with colours but she holds her own in the texture department.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… as long as you treat them right, dried flowers really are the gift that keeps giving.
A Note on Foraging
Since I am advocating foraging as a source of enjoyment and as the first step in a creative pursuit such as making the arrangements mentioned, I think it’s probably only right I should flag a few things to consider when foraging…
- Pick wild plant materials sparingly, leaving plenty for wildlife, pollinators and others to enjoy.
- Ask permission to pick on private land.
- Be careful of thorns.
- Be aware that some plant material is poisonous and some can cause skin irritation. Only pick species you know are safe.
In general, picking leaves, flower stems, fruit and seeds for personal, non-commercial use is fine and legal in the UK countryside. However, there are a few exceptions to this, including certain protected species and plants in conservation areas or sites of special scientific interest so it’s always a good idea to know what you’re picking and whether you are walking in one of these protected areas.
It is illegal in the UK to uproot or dig up a plant from where it is growing without permission from the landowner, so always cut or pick rather than pulling or digging up unless you have permission.
If you would like more inspiration about creating with foraged flowers and foliage, you might enjoy my blog posts about pressing flowers.
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