By Christina VanGinkel
Decorating your home and yard with the bounty from your garden is one of the best things gained from all your hard work and effort. With fall underway, you may be thinking there is not a lot left in your garden from which to use around the home, but you would be wrong, especially if your garden included a pumpkin patch or gourds. Even if it does not, there are still ways to enjoy the end of your garden's season.
For those with no pumpkins or gourds, just a garden that has seen better days, take a few hours and cleanup the rows, then plant a scarecrow decorated for the season in it. This will not only make you smile and be a pleasure to view both for your family and the neighbors, but it might even keep the late season birds away from eating up any seeds that you would still like to get out and harvest a few of.
If you happen to be one of the many who did plant pumpkins, harvest a nicely sized one, and measure the top of it to a diameter that will easily hold a simple vase. Then carve out the pumpkin as you would ready it for traditional pumpkin carving, but stop when you have the interior cleaned out. Set the vase into the pumpkin and fill it with an assortment of late blooms such as marigolds, or with dried flora. You can also use what I call local gifts of bounty if you happen to live close to an area where you can harvest a few cattails. Snip a couple close to their tops so that they extend just a bit out of the vase and add some thin twigs. This seemingly simple mixture will appear quite elegant in the middle of a dining room table or displayed on a hearth. If you have a vase that has a top, which is made with separations to keep the flowers arranged more neatly, you can even forgo the vase and just set the top into the pumpkin.
Gourds and pumpkins come in many different colors and shapes, so mix things up a bit and assemble a few different ones to decorate a large table. These can also be set outdoors for a late season garden party, or even to line a large walkway or to fix up a display by your entryway in place of cornstalks or some other more common fall display.
Painting on pumpkins is nothing new, but choose a design scheme that is more sophisticated than your typical pumpkin painting. Simple quilt patterns are both easy to do and can bring some great colors to the artwork. Depending on the way your home is decorated, choose a Victorian or western design and paint it on a white gourd or several, and create a centerpiece of twigs and cattails lying flat in the shape of a nest and place the painted gourds on top. A nest of large colored leaves will work nicely too. Fill a large wooden bowl with colored leaves, stick a few strategic twigs in, and place a large pumpkin in the center to hold the leaves down and help the twigs to stick up and outward.
For an impromptu dinner party, bring in a pot of late blooming mums to use as a centerpiece, and peel of a few fresh dried cornhusks to use as napkin rings. Cover thee exterior of the pot in anything that fits your theme or mood for the meal, from a piece of checked flannel, to gold lame. Peel off the very exterior husks of the corn and toss in the trash, as they are often dirty. One layer down, the husks will not only be cleaner, they will be a bit more malleable than the very outside ones and will wrap around your napkins without cracking and crumbling. Add a fresh ripe and crisp apple or small mini gourd by each place setting with the occupants name tied to the apple top or written across the face of the mini gourd with acrylic, non-toxic paint.
Decorating your home and yard with the late blooms and other fall bounties from your garden are just one more way to extend the pleasure from something you have worked so hard at almost the whole year. From the first time you turned the earth over early last spring, to these late fall bounties you are still harvesting, you are doing both your garden and yourself good by making full use of such a splendid part of your yard and home, and even your life. A garden enjoyed so fully, is sure to be a garden that will once again be ready for enjoyment come the first day of a new spring next year.