Category Archives: Pumpkins

The Change Of Season Inspires Us – We Love Fall!

The other day I reran a blog post from last year showing some of our fall-inspired arrangements, noting that I needed to write another for this season. A quick reply came from a FaceBook friend. “I want to see them. Get posting!”

So, while there are so many more we’ve done that aren’t pictured, here’s a sampling of arrangements using pumpkins and gourds, bittersweet and burlap, plants and dried materials, acorns and pinecones, literally anything that has inspired us this season. We hope they inspire you too.

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Decorated Pumpkins

Decorated PumpkinIt all began with my Mother’s 85th birthday in early October. She has macular degeneration and would rather stay close to home now.

Since I am in Birmingham and she is in Wisconsin, unfortunately, with this a busy time in the garden shop business, getting together on her birthday doesn’t happen anymore.

But she is on Facebook. I decided a couple of years ago to get her a Nook that she could use to listen to audio books, thinking it would be a perfect way to open her world. It also allows her, through Facebook, to see pictures of the garden shop and my garden. It has been a joy for her, and I’m thrilled!IMG_0285

So, with this in mind, I decided to decorate a pumpkin for her birthday and put a picture of me holding it on her timeline as her birthday gift from me. I’d seen lots of pictures of succulents on pumpkins (more on that later), but I wanted something bright and happy from me to her on her milestone day.

IMG_0445I chose a bright orange jack-o-lantern pumpkin, glued some cut flowers of gomphrena and mums to it along with a couple of okra pods, added  a few succulents, and tucked moss around the edge. I even cut a couple of tiny hosta leaves. Voila, the birthday pumpkin was born.IMG_0444

 

A few days later a customer came in with a picture of the aforementioned succulent topped pumpkins. They’ve been everywhere the last few years, in magazines and various places on line.

Easy to do but requiring lots of cut succulents, I’d stayed clear of getting into the making of them. I dutifully tried to emulate the white pumpkins in her picture with the succulents we had on hand.

IMG_0446

 

When they were finished, I set them on the display steps up front, where people could see them, and decided to make a few more. Here’s how they turned out. We had a few more orders that day as people saw them!

if you’d like to make a succulent topped pumpkin, choose a pumpkin and have fun! Any kind of moss can be used. I chose green sheet moss, gluing it to the top of the pumpkin.IMG_0413

 

Purchase or take cuttings from succulents you might have growing in your garden or pots and simply glue them to the moss. Succulent experts advise misting the cuttings once a week.

It’s also fun to add other decorative elements like the okra pods I used on my Mom’s pumpkin. Try tiny pinecones, acorns, and more to add interest. It’s only limited by your imagination!

If you’re in the area, and would like us to decorate a pumpkin for you, stop in and place an order!

By Kris Blevons

 

Decorating For Fall With Pumpkins And Gourds

Pumpkin StackEven if the temperatures have been slow to reflect fall, we are determined to celebrate a change of season.

The arrival of so many pumpkins and gourds in all sizes, shapes, and colors spur us on in our quest for the perfect choices for arranging in containers or to artfully stack at the front door.Pumpkin Display

 

 

Each year begins the same, with the first shipment unloaded and carefully placed, separated by variety. Long Island Cheese, Jharadales, Lumina, Fairytale and Cinderella pumpkins, Turk’s Turbans and the wonderfully bumpy Lunch Lady gourds (Yes,  they’re really called lunch ladies!) and more, all neatly set out.

PumpkinsSoon though, usually beginning with the second large delivery, all semblance of order gets tossed out the window, as we place pumpkin after pumpkin wherever we can find a spot.

That’s really how I like it best, with piles of orange, green, blue, cream, and white pumpkins creating a jumble of chaotic color in all shapes and sizes. It’s difficult to choose just one!Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

The cats soon discover new places to nap underneath and In the shade of the raised platforms we use for display of this beautiful fall harvest, coming out only when little ones spy them at eye level.

Long, vining stems of bittersweet hang above, another decorative staple of the season. For over 25 years they’ve been hand cut for us from our North Carolina supplier high in the mountains.Cloche with Mini White Pumpkin

Mini pumpkins and tiny gourds find homes in all manner of containers, nestled in beds of moss and angel vine, or carefully arranged to look as though they were casually placed.

White Pumpkin Arrangement

 

 

 

Usually these designs come together easily, but sometimes it takes more than a few tries to get it just right. We are all perfectionists!Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

Please stop in and celebrate the season with us. Even if you just come to look, we usually have something fun to see that we’re either working on or have completed in our design area right up front. Know someone that needs a pick me up? Bring them along!

By Kris Blevons

Pumpkins, Gourds and our Annual Fall Festival

PumpkinsThe temperatures are still summerlike,  but the pumpkins that need harvesting don’t know that, and what a harvest it’s been! We get the most beautiful pumpkins and gourds from a small farmer in Tennessee, and when he calls letting us know the harvest is ready, we make room for bin after bin of familiar and unusual varieties.Pumpkins

 

 

 

 

We have to get creative with our small space when so many come in at one time; but last year Billy came up with a method using sails to shade them from our hot southern sun, and Bert built platforms to keep them off the sometimes wet asphalt. Even so, we’ve commandeered table space too! It seems wherever you look there are pumpkins and pumpkin stacks!

Pumpkin Stacks

 

Saturday, October 8th we’ll be offering the orange jack-o-lanterns for carving and pie pumpkins for the little ones to decorate during our annual fall festival. Then they can check out the bounce house – it’s all free! This year we’re contributing a portion of the proceeds to Studio By The Tracks, and owner Billy Angell will be braving a dunk tank for donations. Our friends from SBTT will be here  with art work, artists painting, and merchandise from the studio as well. If you’re in the neighborhood, come on by!

 

By Kris Blevons

Thoughts Of Fall On A November Weekend

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day...

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day…

Every year it happens. Fall arrives, and we welcome it with open arms as a happy counterpoint to months of sizzling temperatures.

 

Fall - Violas, Peppers and Minipumpkins

It comes just in time too, since by this point  we’ve tired of watching spring plantings gradually and inexorably succumb to summer’s never ending heat and humidity.

Branches of bittersweet and mini pumpkins accent an oncidium orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the new season come truckloads of pumpkins, branches of bittersweet, traditional mums, and sweet pansies, showing all the hues  of the harvest, blanketing the front of  the shop with a riot of color.

Fall - PansiesFall - Pansies

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Orchid Arrangement

 

Even the orchids give way, the elegant white phalaenopsis stepping aside as oncidiums and dendrobiums in shades of yellows, golds, deep purples, and browns take center stage.

End of the season coleus mingle with ornamental peppers...

Fall - Arrangement

Working with plants as we do, the seasons seem to be magnified somehow.

 

 

Our livelihoods are driven by them, and we look forward to the next, even as we finally tire of the previous palette’s flowers, herbs, shrubs, vegetables.

 

 

Of all the seasons, fall seems to be the most fleeting, at least here in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fall - Pumpkins

Perhaps it’s the relentless march of the holidays, with Thanksgiving  accordioned between October and December, and hearing the strains of Christmas music all too soon.

 

Harvest centerpiece...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

Cotton bolls in arranged with pods and stems, in a pumpkin...

So, as I write this on a rainy Saturday in November, with Thanksgiving still weeks away, I’m already feeling melancholy for fall.

Fall - Gourd and Bittersweet

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Mailbox Decoration

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The harvest season simply doesn’t last long enough for me. Looking through the pictures to add to this post lifted my spirits,  and I hope they do yours too.

Pumpkin centerpieces...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and the opportunity to celebrate all we have to be thankful for, and I’m trying to remember to enjoy each season, even those that pass far too quickly.

Planted...violas, herbs and pods...design Molly Hand

 

 

Fall - Lettuce and Herb Arrangements...

Orchids and Gourds Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A final thought; Don’t allow yourself to get overly stressed during the coming holidays. Try to appreciate each day and the beauty it brings, and, above all, remember to slow down and breathe. A new season with fresh beginnings is right around the corner.

 

By Kris BlevonsFall - PumpkinsFall - Gourd Arrangement

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall...Yellowwood tree

 

Our Fall Mandala – It’s A New Season!

Fall MandalaThe first day of fall had come and gone, and, while we’d talked about doing a group project mandala design for each season, the days kept slipping away as days do. Our summer mandala had turned out to be so much fun for us, though, that we’d been looking forward to creating another one. Well, last Friday turned out to be The Day.

Dahlia, tithonia and penisetum blooms...croton leaves

Dahlia, tithonia and penisetum blooms…croton leaves

First of all, some of you may not be clear what a mandala is. By definition, a mandala is “any of various ritualistic geometric designs symbolic of the universe, used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation.” Another definition describes a mandala as “circular designs symbolizing the notion that life is never ending.” 

Fall Mandala While ours may not conform completely to a strict definition, this is our version of a mandala, using fruits, vegetables, seeds, leaves, and blooms of each season.

I can see how studying a mandala can be a meditative act. Almost everyone who gazed at it for any length of time mentioned continuing to see more things, and from different angles they had new observations of color, form, and texture as well.

Tacca thought it was a good spot for a nap...

Tacca thought it was a good spot for a nap…

This idea of a meditative design is an interesting one. A customer even wanted to take a picture of it for a friend about to have a baby so she could concentrate on it while she was in labor!

A snake gourd encircles smaller gourds and bittersweet with heuchera leaves, corn kernels and bulbs above...

A snake gourd encircles smaller gourds and bittersweet

With the start of our first mandala this past summer,  Jamie, Molly, and I had begun by gathering our “ingredients”.

Many people have asked whether we made some sort of design on paper before we began. While others probably can be that organized and clinical about it, none of us are, and I’m actually very happy to say there really wasn’t any planning involved in either the summer version or this one.

Tacca's playground!

Tacca’s playground!

Liam got in trouble going after the guinea hen feathers...

Liam got in trouble going after the guinea hen feathers…

So we began by gathering the things that spoke to us of fall, randomly laying them on our sections bit by bit and snitching blooms and leaves from various plants  between helping customers.

At the end of this post,  I’ll list everything we used since it may be hard to tell from the pictures. Wish you could all have seen it in person!

Pumpkins and gourds...

Pumpkins and gourds…

Fall MandalaAs we had done for the first one, we emptied the stage floor completely and laid out a backing of brown Kraft paper that all of our botanicals would be laid on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, it turned out our garden shop cats, Tacca and Liam, wanted very badly to get in on the fun again.  It seemed like a repeat of July!

In fact, the very first pieces I had chosen,  the long, dark leaves of a Pennisetum named ‘Princess’, were quite obviously cat toys in Tacca’s eyes. They both loved the fluffy, light, guinea hen feathers too. We were worried we weren’t going to get very far with this project.

Fall MandalaBut it turns out we have the perfect shop cats. Really, we do. They got bored pretty quickly with our shooing them away constantly, gave up on trying to get those wispy feathers, and strolled off to find some other adventure (or a nap) elsewhere.

Some of the first things we pulled for our fall mandala were, of course, pumpkins and gourds. The snake gourds are so interesting;  it was impossible not to use them as a dark green counterpoint to all the brighter colors of flowers and leaves.

Fall Mandala

The ‘Better Late Than Never Garden‘ added its life to our design too, as we snipped  blooms from massive tithonia plants and the last of the season’s cutting zinnias. The towering hyacinth bean vine in full bloom at the very top of the arbor is so tall it was hard to get many blooms from it,  but the beautiful shade of purple from the few we had turned out to be very pretty in contrast to the orange colored blossoms we’d already gathered.

Orange tithonia petals brighten the lacinato kale, coleus leaves, miniature white pumpkins and guinea hen feathers....

Tithonia, blue kale leaves, feathers…

Other deep hued elements like the purple eggplant with its pretty shape, the dark blooms of African blue basil, and various salvias worked well too.

A particularly pretty grouping, I thought, were blue-green lacinato kale leaves interspersed with guinea hen feathers and single petals of bright orange tithonia.  In fact, many blooms were pulled apart to use, including marigolds with their orange-red streaked yellow petals.Fall Mandala

 

 

I stand back and look, studying what we’ve made.  Hmmm….I really like the green apples against the purple eggplant but the tiny white miniature pumpkins are pretty wonderful too.

Another view...

Another view…

 

Oh, but look at the  beautiful leaves of red leaf lettuce, silvery veined heuchera, the chard’s brilliant red stems,  and that gorgeous green rex begonia. Really, it’s impossible to pick a favorite spot, so I’m going to  stop trying and just meditate on it for now…because that’s what a mandala is for.Fall MandalaFall Mandala

 

 

 

 

 

I know describing the elements doesn’t quite convey the creation of it,  which was pretty much an instinctive  process.  I can say with authority that  it is a really wonderful way to spend time, and we left it in place for a few days (Amazingly, the cats continued to ignore it!).

Lycoris bulbs, coleus leaves...

Lycoris bulbs, coleus leaves…

 

Finally, it was time to dismantle it, as the tithonia  blooms were beginning to fade, the coleus and other leaves were curling, and we needed the space for shop business again. We’re already looking forward to the next one – our winter version, in January, 2016. Stay tuned!

 

FALL MANDALA INGREDIENTS:

Tiny blooms...

Tiny blooms…


Indian corn (whole and kernels), snake gourds, mini pumpkins, gourds, green apples, purple eggplant, lycoris squamigera bulbs, guinea hen feathers, miscanthus blooms Lacinato kale, Charlotte chard, red lettuce, coleus, croton, ‘Red Giant’ mustard, ‘Silver Dollar’ maidenhair fern, ‘River Nile’ begonia, ‘Princess’ fountain grass leaves
Tithonia, zinnia, Mexican sage, ‘Deb’s Blue’ salvia, dahlia, hyacinth bean vine, viola, marigold, dianthus, forced azalea, African blue basil, agastache (Sunset series), purple gomphrena blooms
Sunflower seed heads (gone to seed), bittersweet berries
Everything either from plants, food, pumpkins, in stock or picked from the shop’s garden…

By Kris Blevons

Orchids…Early Fall Arrangements

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine...

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine…

Orchids, succulents, dried pods and foliage are the common theme in these four arrangements. With the heat of summer receding (Thankfully!) and fresh material arriving to work with, it’s a happy time in the greenhouse. So, between new shipments of pots, plants, ribbon and more, these were a few of the pieces we created. Let’s take a look.

Orchid, succulents and dried pods Someone who worked for us many years ago called from North Carolina to order an orchid for her mother’s birthday. She likes succulents too; so a double stemmed phalaenopsis and a lady slipper orchid were paired in a container and succulents nestled at the base. The addition of  angelvine and a touch of brown ribbon complete the design.

The next two small containers both started with an orchid, then succulents, ribbon, and, in the second, Jamie selected just the right white miniature pumpkin and burlap bow…the perfect gift for someone!Fall Orchid Arrangement

No two designs are ever alike for us, though sometimes a customer will see something they particularly like and will request another version of it.  Our least favorite thing is when someone brings in a picture with the request that we copy it, though we’ll always accommodate as best we can.Fall Orchid Arrangement - Customer's Dough Bowl

Happily, this large dough bowl of a longtime customer is one we see fairly regularly and one that we have complete creative license with. This go-round I filled it with orchids and under planted it for fall with Rex begonias, a pretty ivy, and added dark, shiny pods for their color and shape. A touch of chartreuse mood moss picks up the light green veining in the begonia leaf. Some tiny cattails are placed as accents, and my design is done.

Cotton stems, dried sunflower seed heads from the garden, and fern fiddleheads were the starting point for the last piece in a pretty brown and white bowl. . I added an air plant at the base and wound angel vine up through the cotton for even more interest. Some days are so much fun in the greenhouse!

Cotton, sunflower seed heads, fern fiddle heads and an airplantThis is just a sampling of the early fall things we’ve been creating! Since we’re always searching for new ideas and ways to make our arrangements more interesting and  unique, who knows what we’ll come up with next…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Saturday…Pumpkin Carving, Painting & Fun

At the beginning of the day...

At the beginning of the day…

Hard at work...

Hard at work…

Her bow matches her pumpkin!

Her bow matches her pumpkin!

Creating his masterpiece...

Creating his masterpiece…

They were all winners, but here are the official ones...

They were all winners, but here are the official ones…

The day started out chilly and clear, then turned into one of those beautiful fall days..it was  lovely to be outdoors enjoying a festive and fun atmosphere, with folks stopping by to get plants, spotting our pumpkin carving and painting tables, and coming back with their kids to join in the fun.

Older kids and some adults carved, while the smallest decorated their pumpkins with paint, glitter, feathers, and other fun things – such imaginations!  Soon word spread that not only was there a bouncy house for the little ones but Delmar Hill was grilling corn too…and more folks stopped by to oooh and aaah over the finished pumpkins lined up for judging.

The parking lot may sparkle from all the glitter for quite a  while…

 

 

We’ll be adding another post with pictures  taken by our friend, Steve Schnell. He took a lot, so sorting them out is going to take some time – stay tuned!

 

Fall…Arrangement Inspiration

imageWe look forward to fall with its autumn hues glowing on gorgeous pumpkins and gourds, bright stems of bittersweet and dark colors of pods and stems. Nature gives us all the inspiration we need for interesting and arresting arrangements.

Here are a few we’ve created recently

A simple wreath made of cotton bolls is embellished just enough with touches of ribbon and bittersweet…these wreaths also add charm to winter and holiday decor. Simply remove the bittersweet and change the ribbons if desired.

Bittersweet in Putti UrnBittersweet, arranged in a classic urn, gives us the quintessential look of fall. This piece is quite large, but the same effect can be achieved in a simple vase just as easily. I used dry foam with moss and added gourds to complete the arrangement.

Pumpkin/gourd/bittersweet in basketSwan gourds here are grouped in a basket lined with moss and angel vine. If you let your imagination go, you might see an aviary family under the branch of a tree. Or, you might just see a natural composition encircled and overhung by bittersweet. There’s no wrong way to interpret this!

Pumpkin/gourd/bittersweet centerpiece in bowl

 

A beautiful bowl is the starting point Jamie used for this grouping of gourds and pumpkins. Interesting shapes, varying colors, and the play of bittersweet wind throughout this balanced design.

Pumpkin/succulent arrangement

 

 

This rough textured oval container lends itself well to a casual grouping of miniature gourds and pumpkins interspersed with succulents, touches of bittersweet, and moss. Mixing live plants adds yet another element of color and form to many compositions.Gourd Arrangement

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

 

It’s Time To Enter The Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Metal PumpkinsHalloween will be here soon, and Saturday, October 26th, we’re having a Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Entry is free – just stop in the shop and  pick up an entry form  October 1st – October 21st. Pumpkins for carving and pie pumpkins for painting will be sold at a discount, and materials for painting and carving will be provided.

Location:
Oak Street Garden Shop

Time:   9am – 5:30pm
Carving/Painting:  9am-4pm
Judging/Awards:  4pm – 4:30pm
Lighting:  5pm – Contestants take their pumpkins home at 5:30.

There Will Be A Winner And A Second Place Finisher In 4 Age Groups:

Painted Pumpkins: Children (Parents, please accompany and supervise  your child.)
Group 1: Ages 5-8
Group 2: Ages 9-11

Carved Pumpkins:
Group 1:   Middle School – Ages 12-14
Group 2:   High School –    Ages 15-Adult

We hope many of you will want to join us in the fun!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone