Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show; Howling Fall displays
Some folks grow gourds or specialty squash for howlingly cool Halloween or Harvest displays.
Once, many years ago, I grew one of those super large pumpkins. I was so proud! The local grocery store was having a contest and I got it loaded up in the pick up and off we went. The grocery store manager says, Ya that woulda won! Huh? The contest ended yesterday. There went my claim to fame!
I don’t have room in my gardens to do that any more so now it’s off to the local market to decorate the front stoop. Sometimes you can get the oddly shaped pumpkins for a better price. I call them the Charlie Browns of pumpkin picking.
If you grew corn this year you have a great tall accent for your decor, cut the stalks and tie them to bamboo or hidden p-v–c pipe to keep them propped up. Should you use bales of straw or hay for lawn decorations, keep in mind they’ll kill your grass if left longer than a few weeks. Those fallen leaves can be used for decoration before composting using kids clothes and rubber bands. Stuff the clothes with the leaves to overflowing closing the holes with rubber bands. I’ve put them in wheelbarrows using pumpkins as their heads or prop them up against trees. If you have a penchant for scaring people, hang a few in the trees!
I didn’t get much done this year of display…. just a little bit!
And this one from my front porch
And, as promised… that is if the wind hasn’t wiped out every leaf!
Preserving Fall branches from Martha Stewart. If you go to the site you have to sift through a bunch of advertising…
- Cut branches with leaves
- Pruning clippers or handsaw
- Deep bucket
- pH testing kit (lemon juice or powdered lime, if pH is off)
- Glycerin (available at local drugstores)
- Surfectant, such as Spreader Sticker (available at local garden centers)
- Florist’s wire; wreath form
- Select a dozen or so small but leaf-heavy branches from trees at their peak of color. For best results, cut branches at night. Use ones that have not weathered a frost this season; the process will not work on leaves that have seen a frost. Keep in mind that glycerin will change the leaves’ colors. Yellows respond best, becoming more intense; reds and oranges turn a ruddy brown; green magnolia leaves take on a chestnut color but retain their glossy veneer.
- Cut branches from trees with pruning clippers or a handsaw. Pound the end of each branch with a hammer to expose its vascular system.
- Fill a deep bucket with a half-gallon of water. Test the water with a pH testing kit to make sure it has a pH between 3 and 4. (If pH is too high, add citric acid — lemon juice. If too low, add powdered lime.) Add 17 ounces (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) of glycerin and 4 to 5 drops of surfactant to the water. (The surfactant breaks down the glycerin molecules into smaller ones, enabling the branches to absorb glycerin more easily.)
- Stand the branches in the bucket; place them out of sunlight while the branches and leaves draw up glycerin. After 3 to 5 days, leaves will feel supple. Magnolia branches may take 3 to 6 weeks to absorb the glycerin.
- Pick leaves from branches and, with florist’s wire, bind into small bunches. Position a bunch on a wreath form and bind with wire to hold in place. Wire on a second bunch so that leaves overlap wired stems. Continue until circle is complete.