At the very end of summer, and at the very beginning of fall, you might just need a bit of liveliness injected into your garden and surroundings. Your plantings have been vivid all summer, but are now flagging. Your interiors may also be losing a bit of their enthusiasm. A great way to reinvigorate these areas and set the tone for the coming months is to use pumpkins, gourds, and all things orange, gold, green, yellow, warty, round, and all the shapes between. Look for unexpected places both inside and outside your home to feature this bounty you’re now seeing piled up in mounds at farmers’ markets, grocers, nurseries, and big-box stores.
Look Up. Nestle a size-appropriate pumpkin or gourd in a hanging basket, to feature with what’s already growing there. Add a low maintenance touch like this tillandsia for a bit of complementary gray foliage.
Look Down. As under-utilized space is always around and beneath a plant in a large pot. The larger the pot diameter, the more you can mix. Think about color, shape, texture with your mix.
Keep Moving. This one’s a perennial favorite of mine. Place pumpkins in a straight line going up any steps or stairs. Works indoors or out. It’s unexpected and whimsical. And a bit geometric as well.
Go With Green. Cooler weather may be just around the corner, but you still have lots of green in your garden. Pair gourds with deeper green ferns to get that last bit of use from this color.
Warts And All. I say ‘pumpkin, you think ‘orange.’ Try to go beyond this idea. I always encourage use of texture and, with the great variety of gourds and pumpkins, you will find many variations on a theme. Use odd shapes, feature the stem end, and try other colors, plus bumpy fruit when you can.
Light the Way. Got a big coachlight or outsized lantern? Tired of using candles in it? Keep the fire burning with an oblong gourd. Its shape is, of course, reminiscent of a flame, plus it fills the interior of the lantern. The bed of orange mini pumpkins the gourd rests on underscores the idea of fire as well.
Superlative Serenity. Create a shrine with pale pumpkins. The unexpected lemon chiffon color of these pumpkins fits perfectly with the gray stone, and their identical shape and size play into the serenity of a garden goddess.
Peeping Pumpkins. A line of three on a window ledge outside is not what your guests will expect. The traditional pumpkin color pops, the three stems amuse, and the effect is sublime. Nice seasonal punctuation of an area that no one but you thought about.
Take a look around at the underused spaces inside and out. Look at all the bounty of gourds and pumpkins available now. Make good use of it all, and you’ll have a happy seasonal home and garden. And there’s not a jack o’ lantern in the bunch.
Chris H. Olsen