Succulent Pumpkins for the Fall

Finished succulent pumpkin
Finished succulent pumpkin with pods and drieds
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Finished peanut pumpkin with succulents and fresh flowers

A Natural Fit-Pumpkins & Succulents

Pumpkins and succulents-a happy pairing! With some glue, moss, succulent cuttings, and an interesting pumpkin, you can create porch decor or a great centerpiece in minutes. These last for months too. And if you have any extra flowers available, you can stick them in to get a quick color burst for a party or event.

Pumpkin decorated with succulents
Pumpkin decorated with succulents, step by step

Material List

  • A pumpkin or large gourd

  • Sheet moss or sphagnum moss

  • Assorted cuttings of succulents- I was moving most of my succulents indoors to beat the frost, and this gave me the opportunity to trim the growth back. I simply nipped pieces of succulent tips from living plants, trying to vary colors, shapes, and textures

  • Assorted pods, i.e. pine cones, okra pods, lotus pods, milk weed pods, and berries. For one of my examples, I used nandina berries and foliage which dries quite nicely, and okra pods

  • Fresh Flowers for a quick change of color

  • Tacky glue or glue gun

  • Spritzer for moistening moss

  • Berries, pods, and foliage to add to the pumpkin
    Berries, pods, and foliage to add to the pumpkin

    Step By Step

  1. Find a wide topped pumpkin and cut the stem off; I used “Cinderella” variety which has a grayish orange color, deep pleats, and  a wide roomy top. For my other example, I used a “peanut pumpkin”(see note below). I think a white or green pumpkin would look fabulous. Also, gourds would be funky too.

  2. Glue moss on top about 1/2 inch thick with a glue gun or tacky glue.

  3. Arrange your succulent cuttings to form a pleasing arranging, making sure that you use the larger chunkier pieces first, and using long pieces to trail around the edges. Stick the stems into the moss with glue so that they adhere. A hot glue gun works best for this.

  4. Add berries, pods, or anything else that goes with the fall theme, gluing in place.

  5. Spritz the moss so that it is moist.

Peanut Pumpkin

Peanut pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima ‘Galeux d’Eysine’) is an heirloom pumpkin known for its distinctive peanut-like growths adorning the exterior of its pink hued rind. The “peanuts” are actually a buildup of excess sugar in the flesh of the pumpkin giving it its unique texture. Those warty protuberances tell you the flesh is extra sweet for making pies and other dishes.  See some other varieties of pumpkins at Pumpkin Eye Candy.

Peanut pumpkin
Peanut pumpkin

Maintenance

It is best to keep the pumpkin outside in the chilly weather when you don’t want to show it off. I keep the decorated pumpkin out during the week on my front porch under cover, and bring it in on the weekends when we are around the house more. Pumpkins need cold weather to stay firm through the season. A warm house will speed up the inevitable decomposition and I want mine to last through Thanksgiving. Sometimes the succulent cuttings even root in the moss and you have more succulents to pot up.

Spritzing the pumpkin
Spritzing the pumpkin
Succulent pumpkin without the berries and pods
Succulent pumpkin without the berries and pods

More Centerpiece Ideas

For more centerpiece ideas, go to Centerpiece Ideas for Thanksgiving.

Decorated with fresh flowers
Decorated with fresh flowers
Gourd decorated with drieds
Gourd decorated with drieds

Pumpkin Treats-Decorating with Succulents

Finished succulent pumpkin
Finished succulent pumpkin

A Natural Fit-Pumpkins & Succulents

Who would ever have thought of decorating pumpkins with succulents? Like bacon, succulents go with everything and make it better. The finished product is so different from the traditional carved Jack-O-Lantern, plus you don’t have to fool with the mess of seeds and rotten pumpkins. Unlike cut pumpkins these will last for months, and the succulents actually root in the moss if misted occasionally. This is a great new twist on decorating pumpkins for the fall holidays that is easy, no mess, and so creative. In the fall I have so many large succulents that I don’t have room for inside that I cut them up for decorations.

Large succulent container that will turn to mush with the first frost
Large succulent container that will turn to mush with the first frost

Better than losing the succulents to frost! The succulents actually root into the moss and you can transplant the cuttings to soil and grow them and set them out in the spring, saving on your start-up plant costs.

Pumpkin decorated with succulents
Pumpkin decorated with succulents

Material List

  • A pumpkin or large gourd

  • Sheet moss, sphagnum moss, or reindeer moss

  • Assorted cuttings of succulents. I was moving most of my succulents indoors to beat the frost, and this gave me the opportunity to trim the growth back or actually uproot an entire plant, washing off the roots. I simply nipped large pieces of succulent tips from living plants, trying to vary colors, shapes, and textures.

  • Assorted pods, i.e. pine cones, okra pods, lotus pods, milk weed pods, and berries. For my example above, I used nandina berries and foliage which dries quite nicely, and okra pods. Mix it up with whatever you have on hand.

  • Tacky glue or glue gun

  • Spritzer for moistening moss

  • Berries, pods, and foliage to add to the pumpkin
    Berries, pods, and foliage to add to the pumpkin

    Step By Step

  1. Find a wide topped pumpkin and cut the stem off; I used “Cinderella” variety which has a grayish orange color, deep pleats or grooves, and a wide roomy top.

  2. Glue moss on top about 1/2 inch thick with a glue gun or tacky glue.

  3. Arrange your succulent cuttings to form a pleasing arrangement, making sure that you use the larger chunkier pieces first. Stick the stems into the moss with glue so that they adhere. Glue will not hurt the succulents.

  4. Add berries, pods, or anything else that goes with the fall theme, gluing in place.

  5. Spritz the moss so that it stays moist

 There are so many unusual pumpkins on the market today that I also tried this arrangement with a Christmas theme using a white pumpkin, adding fresh variegated holly, winterberry, green amaranthus, and dried burgundy cockscomb to add a nice contrast to the white pumpkin.

White pumpkin with decorations
White pumpkin with decorations
Decorated white pumpkin
Decorated white pumpkin

Gourds

Gourds are also a great choice for these arrangements, appropriate for Thanksgiving and I chose a tall narrow one that fits into a smaller space. I had gathered some orange rose hips on the side of the road and blackberry lily berries and knew I had found the perfect use for them decorating the top of my gourd.

Gourd decorated with succulents
Gourd decorated with succulents
Display of decorated pumpkins on my  front porch
Display of decorated pumpkins on my front porch

Maintenance

It is best to keep the pumpkin inside  in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight.  Pumpkins need cool weather to stay firm through the season. If you want to keep them in an outside location, like I have mine on my front porch, be sure to bring inside when the weather turns colder with hard frosts. A warm house will speed up the inevitable decomposition, so don’t put your pumpkin on top of a radiator or in a sunny window. Last year, my pumpkins lasted into January!

Spritzing the pumpkin
Spritzing the pumpkin
Succulent pumpkin without the berries and pods
Succulent pumpkin without the berries and pods

Transforming a Patio – An Outdoor Living Space That Looks Like Home

The Challenge

I was asked to decorate the bluestone patio space for the Baltimore Symphony’s Decorator Show House this spring. Normally I ‘decorate’ gardens, not patios, but I was up to the challenge!  The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra chooses a house every year that is usually vacant and/or for sale, and invites interior and exterior decorators to design their own unique space. It is an honor to be asked and always a great deal of work! The houses that are picked are very different and have their own unique idiosyncrasies.

The 36th annual Show House is a fundraiser for the Baltimore Symphony Associates and gives decorators the chance to promote their businesses while helping out a great cause.

Information flyer for BSO Showhouse

Laying the Groundwork

I visited the Eck House at Cromwell Farm, in February, to look it over and see what the house and grounds looked like. As usual at that time of year, it was a dreary day and the surrounding fields were barren looking but I could see the possibilities.  The patio was a great size, 14′ x 22′, and in decent shape.  It was very dirty and needed to be power washed, but that is easily remedied. The view off the patio was wonderful! In the distance were fields dotted with large trees and a distant stream bed which I could see would be beautiful in the spring. So, the bones were good –  I just needed to dress it up! So, I looked around for sponsors to help me out with the larger items that I needed to make an impact.

My first look at the patio in February
Patio in February

Walpole Wood Accents

http://www.walpolewoodworkers.com/

The first thing that I noticed was the very high stone wall facing the patio and I knew exactly what I wanted to put there –  a Cameo trellis from Walpole Woodworkers. I have worked with Walpole Woodworkers in the past on several installation jobs and admired their products.  I had purchased window boxes for my house from Walpole and loved them! So, I called my rep from Walpole, and asked if the company would be interested in providing some pieces to decorate the patio to promote their business. Walpole agreed to provide a trellis, a bird house, an obelisk and two estate planters which I knew would make the patio stand out.

The cameo trellis

Dressing it Up With Furniture

http://www.watsonsfireplaceandpatio.net/index.htm

The next item of business was the furniture.  I have always admired Watson’s Fireplace and Patio Furniture in Timonium and after talking to the manager there, she agreed to provide some beautiful furniture. These included a comfy sofa, a glider with an ottoman, and three assorted tables to finish off the ensemble. The coffee table was a stunning mosaic creation that reminded me of crashing waves! The “wicker”  was a resin wicker in a dark pecan color with teal cushions that were designed for outdoor wear. I thought these pieces would be perfect to make the patio a welcoming space.

Furniture from Watson's

Icing on the Cake

The fun began with the accessories! Once I had the framework, I could place unique and funky pieces on the tables and patio.  Succulents are really big this year, so I knew that I wanted to do something with hens and chicks, jade plants, sedums, etc.

I decided to make a succulent sphere from an assortment of the fleshy leaved oddities that would be placed on the large mosaic table as the focal point.

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Succulent Sphere

I picked up a globe-shaped base of coco-fiber with a wire cage at a nearby nursery and filled it with moss.  After wiring it together, I poked holes in the base and inserted my succulent plants into the moss.  To make the job easier, I shaved off most of the soil and the roots from the succulent leaving just enough root to insert into the moss and start growing. To keep the plants firmly attached to the base, I inserted fern pins, U-shaped wire fasteners, into the plants down into the moss. These pins would keep the succulents in the ball until they rooted in and started to grow.  After getting all the succulent plants attached, I covered up the coco-fiber with moss to give it a more uniform look. To finish off the sphere, I elevated the globe by placing it in a terra-cotta pot.

Finished succulent sphere
Succulent Planter

I made a smaller matching succulent ball that I set on wire mesh in a rustic wooden bowl that I had picked up at a flea market.

Smaller succulent sphere in bowl on wire mesh

Herbs and Veggies

I don’t think any patio is complete without planters of herbs and vegetables. Earth Boxes are perfect planting containers for these, as they have a reservoir in the bottom that is filled via a water tube, and the plants wick up the water from the roots. It is a complete self-sustaining system for growing a good amount of edibles without digging in the garden. Go to  http://www.earthbox.com/View-All-Planters/products/54/?gclid=CIn7hp-I2q8CFcfb4AodMBpvBg.

Earth boxes with veggies and herbs

I also like the concept of cooking in the kitchen and running out to the patio to grab a handful of lettuce or herbs, rather than traveling out to a distant garden and having the greens at the mercy of bunnies!  So I potted up three of the Earth Boxes with an assortment of greens. Wanting to display them in a unique way, I found an idea on Pinterest. Someone had posted a simple three-tiered plant stand made out of stair risers from the hardware store.

Plant stand Idea from pinterest
My improved version of the stair step plant stand

The picture from Pinterest was a great starting concept.  I improved on it and made it much sturdier by making shelves out of strips of wood that gave it some support, because the shelf would be free-standing on the patio.

Accessorize

I wanted to add some fun items to accessorize the space and found some antique wrought iron plant stands locally. I filled these with containers and flowers.

Antique plant stand
Another plant stand with head planter

Long planters from Watson’s Garden Center http://watsonsgarden.com/  were planted with early spring colors of pastel pink, yellows and blues.  I added the Viola ‘Etain’ to my planters as this is a personal favorite early spring flower. http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/39557-product.html?

The estate planters were filled with a golden hued arborvitae surrounded with the Viola.

Viola Etain

Finally, I made up some miniature gardens to sell. The mini gardens were perfect to place on the steps leading down from the patio and on the stone walls surrounding it. Some were made of hypertufa which I explain how to make in http://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/hypertufa-making-mud-pies/

Mini Garden
Hypertufa planters on steps
Funky head planter

Go to http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/newsletter/bs-hm-bso-showhouse-eck-pg,0,1822756.photogallery to see pictures from the whole house.  I think this year’s house is one of the best that I have participated in as the decorating ideas are very do-able. In past years, some of the treatments were over-the-top and just didn’t translate well to your own house.  But this year, the ideas that I took away are definitely going to show up at my house!

Finally done!