This year we are spending Halloween with friends, so I’m not too bothered about decorating the house. The boys, however, didn’t want to miss out on carving pumpkins, and so we took a trip to a local pumpkin farm to buy a couple.
As the children and I browsed the huge selection and tried to decide on several smaller pumpkins or one enormous one, The Bavarian chatted to the farmer’s wife. She’s a lovely lady, a granddma, minding her own grandchildren during their midterm break. They chatted aboutwhat she was cooking for lunch (braised red cabbage, mash and pork belly), how cheeky children can be and how best to grow large pumpkins. We didn’t dare ask how they managed to grow the ones that look like bums!
She was so nice and chatty that I felt bad if we only took couple of pumpkins, so we began loading up our basket with small, decorative squash as well. When we thought we had as many as we’d be able to carry back to the car, she told our children to pick themselves a large pumpkin each as a present from her. They were thrilled. So back to the pumpkin pile we went and looked and lifted and hummed and hawed till they had found their perfect pumpkins.
Back home, the boys and a school friend set to work emptying the pumpkins of their seeds and flesh and planning their faces. Number Two has a special pumpkin carving set he talked me into buying one day when we had a rare bit of time, just him and me. I thought it was a bit of a useless gadget but it has turned out to be great. The saw-like knife is really safe for children and easy to carve with. The nine templates that came with it have brilliant pictures – from a skull with an eyepatch to a ghost to scary faces there is a selection.
While they busied themselves with drawing the pictures to be carved, I set about making a window decoration for the outside of the kitchen window with the remaining pumpkins. It turned out better than I’d hoped, so I’ll share with you how I did it.
First of all, I looked at the selection of pumpkins I had and the range of colours they had.
Then I walked the garden, visiting my potting table along the way, keeping an eye out for anything that might complement the pumpkins. I was surprised at how much I found – leaves in various colours, a pot of yellow chrysamthemums, plant pots in terracotta, yellow and orange and lots of walnuts. We have a huge walnut tree in the garden, so we have no end of walnuts each Autumn. But you could use chestnuts and acorns instead.
Before beginning the actual arrangement, I filled the walnuts into the terracotta pots. Then I sorted all my elements into categories – flowers, leaves, pots and pumpkins. Once that was all done, I began to arrange them.
Now, I am far from being good at this kind of thing. I have heard that odd numbers work well and there should be some sort of triangular aspect to the shape of the overall arrangement. But I was limited in what I had to work with and conscious that at any moment the baby would wake or the team of little pumpkin carvers would need assistance.
Working quickly, and enjoying the afternoon sun on my back, I began by placing the chysanthemums in the yellow pot and positioning them more or less in the centre of the windowsill. The medium-sized pumkins were added on the left and right, then the terracotta pots of walnuts – one upright, one on its side. The large orange plant pot was then upended and topped with a couple of the small squash. The remaining squash I then scattered along the front of the windowsill. Lastly, I tucked the fallen leaves in among the other elements, trying to use contrasting colours where possible.
One tip I have is to take a step back after each addition and see if you are happy with the balance of elements. If not, shuffle them around a little and check again.
With the late afternoon sun shining down on my creation, the colours were so vibrant. I couldn’t help turning back to look at it every few minutes. Several days have passed now and the birds have pecked open a few walnuts but on the whole the arrangement is lasting well and I am still as pleased with it as I was the day I made it.