Nature seems determined to drink in and store up the sun’s warmth in the bright, rich colors of sunflowers, chrysanthemums, pumpkins, gourds, and the turning leaves. As the days shorten and the evenings grow chilly, I feel the urge to bring that warmth indoors with me through simple, seasonal decorations.
As Halloween approaches, pumpkins have become easily available everywhere. They are the most versatile, long lasting fall decoration. The big ones were on sale this week 2 for $10 at our local Stop and Shop. So I bought 2 and used them to flank our front steps and bring some cheer. I’ll keep them around until I carve them into Jack o Lanterns for Halloween. In years when I lived in an apartment, I bought one, placed it on the floor nestled up to my coffee table, and kept it there until after Thanksgiving.
The smaller, sugar pumpkins were also on sale over by the winter squashes, in the produce section. Sugar pumpkins are the edible ones meant for baking a pie. (Farmers have bred the large ones to have a nice shape and to be hollow in the middle for easy carving, so they don’t taste very good.) These small, heavier pumpkins usually have nice green stems and look great on a table or mantle. I’ll keep 1 or 2 around the house until Thanksgiving to use as a centerpiece or part of a vignette with gourds. Some years, I get ambitious and decide to cook one into a pumpkin pie.
The tiny, Jack Be Little pumpkins look great set out on a tray or heaped high in baskets. Gourds look lovely this way, too. If you use a tray, try placing a few simple votive candles or a pillar candle there too, adding even more light and warmth to your display. When using a basket, I stretch my dollars by crumpling up newspaper in the bottom of the basket, then putting the gourds (or pumpkins) on top where they seemly overflow. A neutral basket can be used any season of the year if you change its contents, so I have several: natural straw, white, and gold. Michael’s craft store frequently puts baskets on sale for 30% off, and I buy them then.
Because I garden, I love, love, love the sight of fresh flowers brightening a table top or mantle. Right now sunflowers wait in your local grocer’s florist section to be plucked up cheaply by clever you. I got my gorgeous bouquet for $7.99. Since sunflowers have really long stems, you must cut the stems down a lot in order to get an abundant looking display in a short pitcher or vase. Crowd them together, and one bunch will cheer up any room.
We gardeners call Chrysanthemums hardy mums for a reason. If you keep it watered, a potted mum will keep its blossoms for weeks. Just look for plant which still has some tightly closed buds. Don’t worry; the buds will open in the warmth of the sun or of your toasty house. Mums come in many gorgeously deep, saturated colors.
Some years, a burgundy one matched a color in my Persian carpet and flanked the other side of my coffee table from the large pumpkin. Some years, a smaller gold one, edged with rose, graced the center of my dining room table. This year I bought several hot yellow ones for the front porch since I found them on sale at King’s market for $5 each.
To create a small tussie mussie bouquet, clip a few stems from your mum and add them in with some greenery (from your yard if you have one) and 1 larger flower.
Having these inexpensive, seasonal decorations around my home grounds me because they remind me that one day doesn’t simply run into the next. We live on the earth, and the earth changes around us. The sun grows colder and the light dimmer. We dig out our sweaters and woolen clothes. The leaves capture the sunlight in their changing colors. We stop sitting on the porch or the deck or in the park, and go indoors. As the chill of autumn sets in, nestle in. Make your home cozy. Revel in the glory of creation. Enjoy the bounty while it’s all around us. Soon we’ll be giving thanks for it all.
Wishing you every blessing,