Garden Autumn Colours
There is a feast of Garden Autumn Colours around at the moment, but one colour leads the pack.
Orange is coming out to the porches, gates, windowsills and on pathways and my favourite holiday is just around the corner. Long gone are my days of “trick or treating”; Gooseberry is way too cool for this now, and dressing up is also out of the question.
What is left for me is my orange pumpkin to celebrate, carve and enjoy, and maybe a spooky movie or two. Have you all noticed the variety of shapes and colours now available in every supermarket? I am blown away by the possibilities of pumpkins, gourds and other funky-looking thingies ready to be picked up as your Halloween decoration. And it is hard to believe it all started with a turnip!
Stingy Jack/Jack O’Lantern
We all know the story of Stingy Jack and how he tricked Satan into promising him a hassle-free life. How God turned Jack down and refused to let him into Heaven. And how poor old Jack had to wander the world with a carved-out turnip with coal inside serving him as a lantern. People used to carve turnips each year to mark the occasion and fight off any lost spirits. Only through the immigration process and the availability of pumpkin over turnip, we can now enjoy a much easier and tastier carving tradition.
Pumpkin Patches to explore
I have noticed a huge growth in the popularity of Pumpkin Patches all over Ireland. It is a family day out, fun and exciting. You get to go for an outdoor stroll among all the garden autumn colours, enjoy a muddy puddle or two and you get to choose your own pumpkin to bring home with you. What’s there not to like?
And what would you say if I told you you could also grow your own pumpkin or two in the garden?
Great fun altogether. Especially for any smallies in the house. To set them, and watch them grow and mature just in time for Halloween. I mean the pumpkins, of course.
Planting a Pumpkin
As long as you have a bit of space in a sunny corner of the garden, or a raised bed that is not being utilised you can definitely plant a pumpkin or two. Or maybe even all those fancy-looking gourds? Plan ahead and get yourself a packet of seeds or two. Those will be available in the garden centre after Christmas. You can also save up a few of the seeds from your recent carving experience. Just keep them dry and cool.
The last option comes in a form of a seedling grown locally and sold in the centre in the springtime. We always have those in April, so if you forget the seeds you know where to find the plants. They are all very easy to grow, will take up a bit of your space and will give you lovely fruit in return for some TLC. No excuse now not to try it next season.
And once you have your pumpkins set you should also plan for a beautiful flower to go with them and compliment the arrangement late in the season. The best flower to rise to the challenge is a Chrysanthemum. Late flowering, it will be in bloom just in time for your October decorating. There is a great selection of colours available, and if you set them now, you will have them mature for next season’s growth.
Chrysanthemum itself is a brilliant plant and an air-purifying one, so certain varieties could even be kept indoors. And I do think they really suit the autumnal look. When setting those just remember they are perennials, and late, so give them time next season before frantically digging out to fill the space with something else.
And this is it. With two easy steps, I shall have you covered with your Halloween planting. It is good to have something stunning for that late in the season. It sets the mood right, and in the case of a pumpkin, it can also set off your taste buds. But I cannot give you good recipes, those are available from the food people and books. I am realistic enough to know cooking is not one of my talents. And I also value my customers alive 😉 As long as we remember that pumpkin was good enough for Cinderella then it has to be good enough for us too.
Magda O’ Byrne