Time for Pumpkins!

The first weekend in October is like a mini-holiday for me!  It usually marks the family’s annual trip to the local pumpkin patch where we will search for the most unique, odd, quirky or just simply stunning pumpkin.  We like all shapes, sizes and colors…. the more character the better.  (Kind of like friends.)  We’ll load our gourd treasure in wheelbarrows and stuff them in the trunk and then round up Finn, who has made an instant friend and escaped for one more ride on the pumpkin train.  Yes, it’s kind of a magical time of year.

And speaking of magical… I do believe the Cinderella pumpkin might be my very favorite type.  After all, it did turn into a gorgeous coach.  But you can pick out your own from the nearest patch… or better yet try to grow it.  Here’s a list of my favorite pumpkins:

Jack O’Lantern– An heirloom favorite and the traditional pumpkin for carving.  Also, good for eating.

Full Moon– a  giant white pumpkin that looks great in decor.

Lumina– a white pumpkin that is suited for decor or carving.  I’ve heard it’s good in pies, too. 

cinderella-pumpkinRouge vig d’Etampes– Bright orange coloring and unique shape.  Also known as the ‘Cinderella’ pumpkin. It’s a centuries old french heirloom pumpkin.  My favorite and easy to grow… at least accidentally.


fairytale-pumpkinFairytale– A pale apricot with a dusty gray coat and a unique shape makes this pumpkin excellent for decor. It’s another great french heirloom variety.


jarrahdale-pumpkinJarrahdale– These super cool, blueish-green and slightly squatty pumpkins come from New Zealand, but are grown all over the U.S.  They look great in decor with their distinctive coloring and deep ribbing. Apparently, they also taste great. I personally love them in pumpkin stacks, along with the Cinderella.


Sugar Pie– Find these little guys in the grocery store produce section… Use these to make your favorite pumpkin pies!

There’s only a gazillion more great varieties of pumpkins and squash…  

I have grown pumpkins here in my little urban veggie garden… it was purely by accident.  The truth is a few of my fabulous heirloom pumpkins had decayed a bit in the flower beds before I scooped them up and pitched them out as fall turned to winter.  Those seeds found a happy home in my flower bed over the winter and the following spring I had a couple of pumpkin vines coming up.  I recognized them immediately and carefully transplanted them to a spot in my veggie garden that got a little mid-day shade and had some room for their vines to spread.  I raised two large pumpkins and a couple of small out of that unexpected crop.  I proudly put them on display that fall.

Before winter sets in this year,  I’ll toss my favorite heirloom pumpkins out in the garden again to decompose a bit and see if I get a few volunteers next spring.  It’s a fun experiment.  Of course, I suppose I could just collect or buy some seed… but where’s the adventure in that? (You could also collect seeds from your favorite pumpkin, clean, dry them and store them in a dry envelope in a cold location until spring.)

Here are some  pumpkin displays from previous years.  I like to look back and gather a little inspiration and of course, determine how I can up my game a bit.

Below, I created a pumpkin stack along with a variety of containers.  You’ll notice the pale blueish-green Jarrahdale pumpkin placed in the front with a traditional Jack O’Lantern.


I like small containers with lots of pumpkins, too.  The container below has an ornamental cabbage placed in front with snap dragons, a mum and purple pansies.  It’s such an easy, fall-container recipe. I really like the fairytale pumpkin below in this display. It’s pale, dusty apricot coloring is delightful when mixed with others of a brighter hue, and I just love it’s deep bulbous ridges.

Below is a simple container with one large mum, flanked by pumpkins.  That gorgeous orange pumpkin you see is a home-grown beauty, my very happy accident. It’s a Rouge vic d’Etampes…. more commonly known as the ‘Cinderella’ pumpkin.  I’ve been told it is also good in recipes, but I’ve only used this variety in decor.  If anyone has used one to bake a pie or other pumpkin recipe then please let me know.  I think the white pumpkin is a Lumina… sometimes called a ghost pumpkin (it’s possible it’s a small Full Moon variety.).  


I like to place these little pumpkin vignettes throughout the landscape. Tucked into a flower bed, or placed along a path…. I have a neighbor who grows a huge bed of sweet potato vine over the summer in a large front flower bed. In the fall she tucks bright orange pumpkins throughout the vine. It looks fabulous, at least until the first fall freeze- then the sweet potato vine must go.

I’d love to hear about your favorite pumpkin varieties and any adventures you’ve had in growing them.  

Until next time, happy pumpkinizing!

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