Friday, September 23, 2011


AUTUMN is here and it is time to PICK YOUR PUMPKIN!

Or… is it a GOURD or a SQUASH? Which is which? How can you know?

ALL can be a festive part of your fall decorations as all are members of the Cucurbitaceae or Cucumber family.

Gourds have been cultivated for thousands of years for their usefulness.  Pumpkins have a strongly-flavored, coarser flesh, while Squash usually have fine grained flesh of mild flavor, and hence are more suitable for baking and edible enjoyment!

I also tend to think of GOURDS as having harder or warty shells and a more unusual shape.  PUMPKINS tend to be rounder and plumper; and while the skin can be textured, most are smooth.  SQUASH also are fleshy and typically have a more unusual shape. 

Confused?  Don’t worry, just pick one you like!  Depending on size, expect to pay from $3 for small gourds to $30 for large pumpkins.  Several local nurseries, farmers' markets and grocery stores have excellent selections. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Kershaw - wonderfully variegated and works well with many colors!

Knucklehead - The texture of the warts are absolutely amazing!

Gooseneck or Swan - Graceful and elegant!
Looks wonderful with any fall flower! 

Warty - Gnarly and colorful and makes an impact!

Apple - Its shape gives it away. 
Consistent Green Color works well with yellows and purples!

One Too Many - is also variegated and resembles the Kershaw gourds.

New Moon - white, elegant and large.  Fall flowers pop against it!
Love it with silvers and purples!

Cinderella - Nice flatter shape makes it a good choice as a stacking pumpkin!

Peanut Shell - I love the texture of this pumpkin and think it is so unusual!

Fairy Tale - similar to Cinderella - but has more muted coloring.
Also an excellent stacking base!

Butternut - This squash is adorable and makes a good choice for smaller planters!

Blue Hubbard - Its shape and blue gray color blends well with many plantings!
I love it with reds!

Turk's Turban - I love how many colors are packed in this squash! 
Works with pale solid colors, such as white!

Acorn - Adorable and small. 
Tuck some into containers and planters with yellows to offer a dark contrast!

Jarradale - Another neutral gray which allows reds and oranges to stand out! 
Also stacks well!

Pair your gourds, pumpkins and squash with colorful marigolds, green and red lettuces and you will have a beautiful autumn decoration that can be enjoyed through Thanksgiving!

Photos Courtesy



Thursday, September 1, 2011


It is SEPTEMBER and Fall is right around the corner!  Crisp autumn mornings invigorate us as we begin a new season.  Fall is a great time of the year to garden!  Who does not enjoy being outdoors now?

So, if you are tired of ho-hum mums, try one of the plants listed here that will carry you from FALL to FROST.  We will start out with the featured Plant of the Month...

My neighbor has this delightful perennial in her front flower bed beckoning visistors toward her door. It is commonly known as Black-eyed Susan, but its botanical name is Rudbeckia hirta. This showy garden favorite graces borders and makes a choice cutting flower.  Another bonus is that it attracts butterflies and will continue to look great through fall.  Fairly drought tolerant and grows 2-3 feet in height.  Looks best planted in masses.  A plant native to the U.S., it thrives in our region.

MARIGOLDS!  Wow, use these as a mum substitute.  As you can see above and below, they come in yellow and orange - perfect colors for fall decorating!  The botanical name is Tagetes erecta (African Marigold) or Tagetes patula (French Marigold).  The French species is more heat tolerant - so look for the botanical name Tagetes patula on the tag!

The next two photos are Ornamental Peppers.  These small, bushy plants usually are 15 inches high and wide.  Fruits are yellow, orange, red or purple and are purely for decoration - so I would not try to eat them or you may be disappointed!  The first photo is 'Medusa' while the second picture is 'Purple Flash', which is particularly striking with its deep purple foliage.  These beauties make a great fall decoration and love a sunny location! 

The last plant I would suggest from Fall to Frost is Croton, botanical name Codiaeum variegatum pictum.  This plant has large, leathery, glossy leaves that are green, yellow, red, purple, bronze or almost any combination of these colors.  Looks great with gourds and pumpkins! See picture below!


Come back in October for a new gallery of plants!