My favorite part of bouquet-making is the gathering of materials to create a pile of possibilities. Leaves, pods, branches and flowers heaped on the drainboard are so unformed in their raw state, not unlike a rough draft waiting for editing.
Once you accept, as with any art, that there'll be lots of waste, you don't worry about using every bit of this and that as you fashion your bouquet. Sometimes I make several bouquets from a single stash, other times I go back outdoors several times to forage for a more interesting branch, a bigger flower, something airy, or a vine to tumble down the side of the vase. You figure it out as you go along; flower arranging as being-in-the-present-moment meditation.
This bouquet started with a 'Pink Porcelain Doll' pumpkin. The soft pink/apricot color and smooth yet bumpy texture of the pumpkin determined every other choice, colorwise and textural.
I bought a few plump, autumn-colored mums and branches laden with pale, apricot-colored berries close to the color of the pumpkin. I picked geranium foliage, fluffy, dark seed pods, which are all that's left of the ligularia by now. Mop-head hydrangeas, near-ebony euphorbia ('Black Bird'), and a few mossy branches and twigs for scaffolding added up to a pile of possibilities.
Lichen-encrusted, finger-like branches for waning-of-the-year atmospherics and to create a framework to hold the floppier flowers in place...
All is possibility at this moment - there are so many ways to go with these ingredients...
First came the hollowing out of the pumpkin; I needed to scoop out enough flesh and seeds to tuck a glass inside to hold water. I just put in a little water to keep the mums fresh; I expect the rest of the materials will dry in place.
The euphorbia adds drama, the ligularia seed pods are so textural, which is what autumn bouquets are all about. If I had some artemisia I would have tucked that around the lower edges for a frilly ruffle of silver. Its felty texture would contrast nicely with the papery hydrangea blossoms.