Bouquet of the Week: ‘Witch’ Hazel, ‘Ghost’ Chili, and Other Spooky Flowers for Halloween

As part of our recurring Bouquet of the Week series, Garden Collage continues to present a weekly inspirational bouquet that incorporates intriguing new elements into the traditional practice of flower arranging. This week, Garden Collage styles a “Halloween Bouquet” inside of a pumpkin– featuring Witch Hazel, Ghost Chili, Blood-burgundy Calla Lilies, and a bunch of other “spooky” but beautiful flowers said to ward off evil spirits.

It seemed almost inevitable to me that when I was given the opportunity to style a custom Garden Collage bouquet for Halloween that I would end up putting the flowers in a pumpkin. Earlier in the week I read an article about how you can serve punch out of a hollowed out pumpkin for a cute twist on a classic Halloween punch bowl. The second I realized a carved pumpkin could hold water, my decision was made: I headed to the village and choose a tall, narrow pumpkin from the Union Square Farmers Market (it mimicked the shape of an old stone vase my mother had when I was a kid) and cut a hole in the top to remove the stem and seeds. In honor of Halloween, this was going to be my vase.

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I had a distinct vision for the flowers from the start: I wanted to incorporate Witch Hazel and Ghost Chilis— to play off the Halloween themes of witches and ghosts, respectively– but after this it got much harder, because there aren’t exactly many flowers named after Frankenstein or Vampires. I found some Mums– in honor of mummies!– and some blood-red calla lilies, and decided to add those to the basket.

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At this point I realized that I had a basket full of red flowers, all of which clashed, especially when I considered that this would be going inside an orange pumpkin. A great strategy for flower arranging is to add opposing colors to “average out” colors that could potentially clash. So, if orange and red look terrible together, they can be balanced with white and purple.

I walked over to Casey’s Flowers in the West Village and decided to round out the bouquet with flowers that ward off evil spirits, in honor of All Hallows’ Eve. I secretly hoped that some of these amulet flowers would come in colors that wouldn’t look terrible together.

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Orange roses symbolize protection, calla lilies are associated with the Virgin Mary, and purple Anemone wards off evil energy (purple is a deeply spiritual color, so they say).

When I got back to the studio I made fast work of the armful of flowers I just collected. I filled the hollowed-out pumpkin with water and filled it flush with all the reedy- and thick-stemmed plants (the roses, the anemone, the lilies) and started building the bouquet from the inside out, crafting the arrangement into a sphere to compliment the pumpkin.

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I added the ghost chilis and mums around the base to secure the arrangement, and inserted witch hazel and tiny orange girasse lilies as filler. (My favorite way to arrange a bouquet is to be super impulsive with it: I keep some stems long and trim others, just to create depth within the arrangement amongst flowers of a similar kind. I also love juxtaposing contrasting colors, so that everything really pops.)

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After thinning some spare leaves and adding a few coneflowers, I wrapped the pumpkin in black lace just to add an air of mystery, and brought out some animal skulls to complete the eerie vibe. Voilà— a bouquet for Halloween that’s full of tricks and treats.

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