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Brian Minter: The evolution of fall decor


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Of course, orange pumpkins still play an important role in fall decor, and they are especially beautiful when complemented with orange and rust-colored mothers, dried corn stalks, ornamental grasses, and bales of hay.

Dried corn stalks are being replaced by ornamental grasses, especially hare tail 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 make for an abundance of colors and shapes.  For Brian Minter's article 'The Evolution of Fall Décor' on October 10, 2020. [PNG Merlin Archive]Pumpkins, squash, and gourds make for an abundance of colors and shapes. PNG

Traditional winter squash like acorn, buttercup, butternut, and the larger hybrids have long been popular in baking for their flavors, but the hottest decorations this time of year are those crossover squashes with unusual shapes and colors. The deep green, very warty, flat shape of ‘Marina di Chiogga’ makes it an eye-catcher. ‘Galeux d’Eysines’, a deeply ingrained pink beige, looks just like the historical antiquity it is. Perhaps the most extraordinary is the blue-gray ‘Triamble’ with its three different folds – it looks like a grimace. This wonderful variety is a real novelty and will bring a lot of fun to any autumn show.

These pumpkins and gourmet squashes are delicious as decorative transitions to Christmas decorations in the fall, when dried thoroughly and stored in a dry place, when baked, cooked, or turned into cookies and muffins.

While not edible, many pumpkins have unique shapes and add a humorous element to your creative performances. The swan gourd, a white and green speckled variety, has an oval body and a long neck topped by a smaller round head. In a straw basket it looks just like a swan sitting on a nest. The apple squash resembles a giant apple with its white and green color. Light green, pear-shaped Martin aviary pumpkins can be hollowed out and used as bird nesting boxes next spring.

It’s Thanksgiving this weekend and while we need to keep our “bubble” small because of COVID, we can all create some wonderful seasonal porch displays to delight neighbors and passers-by. Every little cheer helps, and really … despite the current situation … we still have a lot to be thankful for.