News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today

Melanie Little arranges a bouquet of fall flowers in her pumpkin centerpiece at a workshop.
Daily photo by Patrice Stewart
Melanie Little arranges a bouquet of fall flowers in her pumpkin centerpiece at a workshop.

These pumpkins are smashing
Decorate for fall with elegant homemade centerpieces

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

A large orange field pumpkin that goes home with a family of children will probably get a jack-o'-lantern face for Halloween.

The pumpkins chosen by June Odom, however, may be filled with fall flowers, sprayed gold, dotted with mums, or sprayed white and accented with "pearls."

Some of the pumpkins she selects to decorate her Decatur home with each autumn aren't even orange.

Odom likes to use the white "ghost pumpkin," as well as the pale gray-blue-green Jarrahdale pumpkin from Australia and other heirloom varieties. She said the Peanut pumpkin, a French heirloom variety covered with peanut-shaped warts, is another of her favorites. More heirloom varieties are becoming available at farmers' markets and produce stands.

"Pumpkins are the symbol of fall harvest," she said.

Odom displayed the elegant pumpkin centerpieces while leading a workshop at her church. Along with sharing pumpkin-decorating ideas, she showed how to turn orange field pumpkins into vases holding seasonal flowers, foliage and berries.

Her workshop was one of several offered during a women's ministry crafts night at First Baptist Church of Decatur.

Odom, who is known for her home floral creations, has decorated many autumn banquet tables with pumpkins. Sometimes they are filled with flowers, and for other occasions she sprays them shades of gold, copper or silver and places autumn foliage around them.

Almost any pumpkin can be transformed into a temporary container to use as the focal point for a banquet or party table or a seasonal arrangement for your home, Odom said.

"Autumn roses are great in pumpkin arrangements, but you can use whatever you can find outside," she said.

At her workshop, she provided roses, pansies, goldenrod, hydrangea, chrysanthemums, nandina, bittersweet, leaves and berries. Even cotton and kale are possibilities.

Each participant started with a pumpkin (top cut off and insides cleaned out) and a couple of blocks of oasis to fit inside and anchor their choice of flowers and foliage.

"A pumpkin with the center cleaned out for flowers will collapse after about a week," Odom said. "To preserve it a bit longer, you might put a container down inside, rather than cleaning it out completely."

Odom picked up ideas from Southern Living and a book about using pumpkins and then added her touches.

She also suggested putting a small pumpkin in a silver bowl, with candy corn or other treats on the silver tray beneath it.

A small pumpkin with a hole cut into the top provides just enough space to insert a votive candle. Decorate a tabletop with several glowing pumpkins.

If you'd rather cook with a pumpkin than decorate it, use sugar pumpkins, which are smaller and more flavorful than field ones. The Jarrahdale and Cinderella pumpkins also are good for culinary use.

Pump up pumpkins with sparkle, buttons

Would you like your pumpkin to shimmer or “button up?”

Here are some more ideas for decorating with pumpkins from the book “For the Love of Pumpkins” by Sarah Marie Talley.

She recommends choosing pumpkins that are free of spots of decay and washing the pumpkins with a fruit or vegetable wash to remove pathogens that could cause the pumpkins to decompose more quickly.

n To make your pumpkins shimmer and sparkle without using traditional craft glitter, you can paint them with a tacky substance such as clear corn syrup and then sprinkle on a coat of white sugar. This looks attractive on both white and orange pumpkins.

n Stack three sizes of pumpkins in an urn to create your own pumpkin topiary. You may need to put a dowel through the centers, or anchor them with floral picks or other fasteners. Then accent with foliage and berries and use inside or out.

n Decorate your pumpkin with buttons by using a hot-glue gun to attach buttons in all colors and sizes. (Don’t use this pumpkin around young children, who might pull them off and put them in their mouths.)

n Cut slots in miniature pumpkins to use as placecard holders when decorating tables for groups.

n Scoop out the top of a pumpkin, line the shallow hollow with plastic wrap or foil and cover that with a seasonal napkin or fabric. Then use it as a candy holder. You may also use a pumpkin to insert sticks of ghost and pumpkin suckers.


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