Fall-blooming perennials and annuals dress the garden for autumn, but it’s the pumpkins, winter squash, and gourds that really drive home the seasonal message. Going beyond the usual bowl of gourds or carved jack-o’-lanterns, this garden showcases pumpkins and squash nestled into planting beds and piled among the flowers like bright jewels. The rich red-oranges, buttery yellows, and crisp whites make bold companions for mums and marigolds. On the porch, where displays are protected from the weather, arrangements of autumn fruits and vintage objects create beautiful still lifes.
On a cool, shady porch, an arrangement of pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash can last for months. Tucking small pots of ivy down among the fruits softens the hard shapes and adds graceful lines.
Thanks to constant hybridizing and the rediscovery of heirloom varieties, pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash are now available in an astonishing range of shapes, colors, and textures. Farmers’ markets and pick-your-own farms are good sources for these varieties, and even grocery stores stock a wide selection in season. Pumpkins and winter squash displayed outdoors will last longer if they’re in the shade rather than in direct sun. If nighttime temperatures are likely to drop below freezing, cover them with a blanket to protect them from the frost. If they begin to soften but aren’t moldy, use them for cooking. Gourds can be dried and used year after year.
For this kind of display to be effective, you need large fruits, in scale with the outdoor setting, along with medium and smaller ones for variety. An assortment of shapes adds interest as well.