Pumpkins add pizzazz to fall decorating

By RENE’ DAY / Community Columnist

The temperatures lately certainly don’t indicate it, but a quick glance at the calendar proves it. Indeed, fall is here. Leaves are just beginning to cooperate with nature’s decorating team and the earth is producing scores of those jolly gourds that will soon sport saw-tooth grins. Shelby County offers so many options for decking out your home, porch, and – well, yes, even your deck – that you should find it easy to plunge into the season that gives us Halloween and Thanksgiving.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, not all pumpkins are created equal anymore. It seems that farmers have stepped up their gourd growing game, and consumers are the better for it. You can use the different varieties to create a look that is as unique as you and your home. In the most traditional sense, the sunny orange orbs just shout, “Happy Fall.” And, for generations, they have served their jack-o-lantern role well. But, for some, orange just isn’t the new black. It doesn’t go with everything in today’s homes. So, if you want something more cohesive for your autumn designs, try using some of the tremendously popular white pumpkin varieties. With names like Baby Boo, Lumina, Cotton Candy and Full Moon, you will find slight variations in their white to cream exteriors. Perfect for use from now throughout the holiday season. Also, they coordinate with any color scheme. Want something with a little more color, but not as “vocal” as the louder orange colors? Then, you might like the so-called “green” and “blue” pumpkins. These might be a little more elusive, but they have been spotted at nurseries around the county. When you ask about the availability of an Australian Blue or Jarrahdale, no doubt about your above-average pumpkin intelligence will remain. Blue Moon is another excellent choice, and its lovely green tones are anything but melancholy. Want a red pumpkin? Try the Red Lakota or Red Warty variety. How about something sporting some impressive warts? Then a Goosebumps or Knucklehead is the smart choice for you.

Once you have the perfect pumpkins in hand, what will you do with them? And, don’t immediately think cutting a face into them is your only option. You can definitely increase your enjoyment and their longevity by using them in new and creative ways. Try piling different colors and sizes into an old wheelbarrow, washtub, or crate for a long-lasting porch or yard decoration. Miniature pumpkins displayed on a slightly tarnished silver tray elevate a seasonal centerpiece to juxtapositioned elegance. Scoop out a hole in two additional “jack-be-littles” and place a votive candle in them for a new take on candlelit ambiance. Another easy table centerpiece or fall touch for any room can be made with a small pumpkin and two or three succulents. Scoop out the pulp; add potting mix and succulents. Finish off with dried green moss and you have a perfectly prepared pumpkin.

Today’s new pumpkin varieties demonstrate the imagination of those who grow them. How you use them will demonstrate yours. Happy fall, everyone!