Brian Minter: The evolution of fall decor

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Of course, orange pumpkins still have an important role to play in fall décor, and they are especially nice when complemented by orange and rust coloured mums, dried cornstalks, ornamental grasses and hay bales.

Dried cornstalks are being replaced by ornamental grasses, especially bunnytail pennisetums and the more compact varieties of miscanthus, like ‘Yaku Jima’ or the elegant, thin, white and green stems of ‘Morning Light.’

Pumpkins, squash and gourds provide a riot of colour and shapes. For Brian Minter's 'The Evolution of Fall Décor' article on Oct. 10, 2020. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Pumpkins, squash and gourds provide a riot of colour and shapes.  PNG

Traditional winter squash, like acorn, buttercup, butternut and the larger hybrid varieties, have long been loved for their flavours when baked, but the hot commodity for decorating at this time of year are those cross over squash that have unusual shapes and colours. The deep green, heavily warted, flat shape of ‘Marina di Chiogga’ makes it an eye-catcher. ‘Galeux d’ Eysines’, a deeply warted, pinkish beige looks just like the heritage antique that it is. Perhaps the most extraordinary is the blue-grey ‘Triamble’, with its three distinct folds — it looks like a puckered face. This delightful variety is a true novelty, and it injects great fun into any autumn display.

As fall decorating transitions to Christmas décor, these pumpkins and gourmet squash, when dried thoroughly and stored in a dry location, are delicious when baked, cooked or turned into cookies and muffins.

Although not edible, many gourds have unique shapes, and they will add an element of humour to your creative displays. The swan gourd, a white and green speckled variety, has an oval body and a long neck topped by a smaller round head. When nested in a basket of straw, it looks exactly like a swan sitting on a nest. The apple gourd, with its white and green colouring, resembles a huge apple. Light green, pear-shaped Martin birdhouse gourds can be hollowed out and used as bird nesting boxes next spring.

It’s Thanksgiving this weekend and even though we need to keep our ‘bubble’ small because of COVID, we can all create some wonderful seasonal porch displays to delight neighbours and passersby. Every little bit of cheer helps, and really … despite the current situation … we still have a lot for which to be thankful.

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