Category: Autumn

Halloween Pumpkin How To

These suspended Jack-o-lanterns are a whimsical spin on an old Halloween favorite. I’m making them again this year for the annual Halloween fete at the Garden Home Retreat. I like to hang them from the arbors attached to the art studio and summer kitchen. Glowing in the darkness they appear to be hovering above the guests.

Making a floating Jack-o-lantern is easy. Here is a photo journal of the steps. Click here for complete instructions.

I made some of the faces on my pumpkins happy & smiley, others ghostly & scary.

A dowel inserted through holes on either side of the pumpkin provided somewhere to tie the wire.

To come up with the wire length I measured how far down I wanted the pumpkins to hang & doubled it. Then I tacked on a few inches for tying to the dowels.

I dropped in LED tea lights before hanging the pumpkins. They don't give off that scent of candle warmed pumpkin, but they are safer and won't blow out.

Fallscaping: Fall for Autumn

I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Yoest at the blogger conference held at the Garden Home Retreat last spring. Helen is a garden writer and speaker through her business Gardening with Confidence ™ and also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.

You can follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence ™ Facebook Like Page and catch up with Helen via her blog at

In this guest blog post she shares the beauty of her North Carolina garden in fall and inspires us to take a look at what’s going on in our own autumn landscapes.

It seems everyone is a gardener in the spring, many of us continue into the summer, but only a few add flowers for the fall. Yet the fall is the perfect time to be in the garden

With the dog days of summer behind us, October opens with cooler air and less humidity creating a fresh scent and a sense of excitement. The source of this excitement may be for no reason other than it being bearable enough to be outside once again.

Indeed, October, and throughout the fall, is an ideal time to plan and plant new garden beds to ready oneself for the next year. The fall is also an ideal time to enjoy what the months have to offer.

The fall is also more than just flowers. There is color from foliage, there is scent, textures, and fruit and berries. With our area’s late frost date, we often find our gardens providing interest and intrigue well into November.

Flowers, Foliage, Fruit

Summer color can be extended into the fall with Asters, Anemones, Eupatoriums, Helianthus, Salvias, and Sedums. There’s also beautyberry, fothergilla, and golden rod.

Gingers are releasing scent to waft the thinner air, with flirty flowers causing reason to stare. Roses are regaling, hardy Begonia beguiling, Amsonia amazing. The ripened figs become a destination for one of nature’s most delicious delicacies.

Color, Scent, Texture

Reds dominate. Yellows generate. Purples empower. Grasses sway, with flags as flowers. Crepe Myrtle’s bark shed creating unique texture and mottling. The Maples mission is fulfilled as the last red leaf falls to the ground and yellow Gingko leaves make mass merriment.

The seed heads of Black-eyed Susans add texture and interest to the garden long after the birds finished them off.


The butterflies and hummingbirds are also busy in the fall garden as they ready themselves for a long journey south. The flowers of perennial Chrysanthemums such as ‘Sheffield Pink’ make the most perfect landing pad for a butterfly.

Hummingbirds pause mid-air to sip nectar from a Canna. Monarchs are grateful to find nectar still rich. Finches steady themselves as they feed on seeds. The box turtle moseys around the tomatoes eating what the birds or deer knocked to the ground.

Autumn was made for sitting on the patio to watch in wonder. Fall gardening does not need to be all about what needs to be done for the future. It can also be about what is available now. In the wise words of garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, “Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”

Enjoy your garden this fall and all the falls to come. As you plan and plant, include fall peaking selections in your choices.

Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Blue Atlas Cedar - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Crinum - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Hardy Cyclamen - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Dahlias - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Fall Textures - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Gourds and Mini Pumpkins - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest

Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) - Photo Courtesy of Helen Yoest


A Cord, A Peck and a Whole Mess of Greens

The changing leaf color is one way to tell its autumn, but my signals tend to be a little more quantifiable. On my fall check list are a cord of firewood, a peck of apples and a whole mess of greens.

Even though it might still be too hot for a fire, the arrival of a cord of wood means to me that cooler temperatures are soon to follow. Even more than smoke from a fireplace, the smell of split oak still green from the cutting puts me in an autumn state of mind.

Next on my list of signs of fall? Picking up a peck of apples from a roadside farm stand. Just in case you don’t know four pecks make up a bushel.

If you’re at the farm and I’m serving greens, you can bet it’s fall. Greens such as kale, collards and turnips are usually better when they mature in cool weather. A light frost will make them sweeter. Definitions of a “mess” vary with the cook, but to me it means just enough to feed everyone at the table.

All this to say that autumn has arrived at the farm. I’ve got a cord of firewood stacked up by the house, a peck of apples in the kitchen, and just this past weekend I cooked up a whole mess of greens.

What’s your favorite sign of fall?

Good Times at the State Fair

I’m just about as excited as a fellow can be about the Arkansas State Fair opening up next week. I grew up going to local fairs and was a big fan of the agriculture and livestock competitions. My siblings and I often entered poultry, calves, pigs and, if the timing was just right, the giant pumpkin contest. It all depended on when my grandfather harvested his corn.

My grandfather grew pumpkins in with his corn. He’d buy about 2 pounds of pumpkin seeds and add them to the corn drill when he planted corn in the spring. Every so often the corn drill would spit out a pumpkin seed in place of a corn kernel and by the end of summer pumpkin vines could be found snaking between the stalks. At harvest time we kids would run ahead of the wagon gathering the pumpkins and by fall there would be a mountain of them piled up by the barn for feeding the cows and hogs. If the harvest happened in time for the fair we’d pick out the biggest pumpkin to enter in the giant pumpkin contest. I can’t recall ever winning, but prospect of winning was just as good.

Except for grabbing some fried onion rings and doing a little people watching, I spend most of my time at the fair off the midway. I love the livestock and poultry barns; the local crafts, food and canning is always worth a look; and the petting zoo is fun, especially if they have a glass paneled brooder so I can see the chicks hatching. My final stop is the sideshow area. I do love to hear a good barker.

Are you planning to go to your local fair this year? What’s your favorite thing to do there?