Roll your eyes if you must, but I do celebrate Halloween week. Better than any other holiday, it celebrates the process of the garden going down-the harvest ripening, the changing of the seasons, the shortening of the days, stormy weather, and the biggest horror of all-the land of plenty is transformed into the land of the dead. This sounds like plenty of fun to me. Decorating for the Halloween holiday has become very popular in my area in the past five years.
My Mom, who spent the last of her professional career teaching high school, once told me that a smart mouthed kid once told her that if she thought the music was too loud, she was too old. Unbeknownst to that nameless and undoubtedly unfocused 17 year old, he made a big impression on her; naturally she passed this on to me. When I think the music is too loud, I try to get into the spirit of it.
Though I plant plenty for the fall season, the kids for whom the music is not too loud have the right idea. Trolling for treats in costume on a dark, windy and ghostly night – peopled by the spirits of the dead and doomed; terror-ific. This client called to say her kids were making fun of her-could she not loosen up, and get a little ghastly? We gave it a whirl. I did tell her the kids needed to supply me with their gruesome best in the way of props.
The fruits of the late season are beautiful; their thick skins coloring up speak to the finish of a summer’s worth of serious growing. The broomcorn, the bare branches on the trees, the hubbard squash-all of this speaks to a season coming to a close. The rust red sedum is one of the latest blooming perennials. If you want to represent the season, do lots; we piled the pumpkins up everywhere.
A porch pillar is encircled with broomcorn, and corseted with dried peeled willow sticks. I picked gourds with astonishing shapes, and the Hubbard squash too big for anyone else to haul home. Is it not astonishing how heavy the squashes are? Every pumpkin and gourd is chosen for its spook factor. Spider webs of hemp fibers complement the lacy shapes of the kale. One of the best things about pumpkins from the market is the stems that are left intact.
The hanging witches, ghosts and skeletons set a menacing tone on the porch; all we’ll need are some carved and candle-lit pumpkins, a dark and blustery night-and the kids. Last year Buck and I must have had 300 visitors.
OK-so the ghosts look much too friendly, but they were the kid’s choice. My landscape superintendent involves his kids in a number of Halloween events-parties, pumpkin carving, costume competitions-and a visit to the local spookhouse. They decorate the front garden with ghouls they make themselves. Once the Halloween props are put away for next season, the porch will do well celebrating the Thanksgiving season. A holiday is a good reason to decorate; the fact that many people do is all the better. Whole neighborhoods look festive, decorated and lit for Halloween.