How to Make a Halloween Pumpkin House

Are you looking for a Halloween project that’s just a bit different? Here on the west coast of BC rain has arrived and this is a great indoor project to do with your children.  I wanted to create a miniature garden scene inside a pumpkin. So off to the garden center I went in search of the perfect pumpkin. It’s not like I didn’t have a twenty pound pumpkin sitting by the front door. It was way too large for what I had planned.

How to make a Halloween pumpkin house

I finally chose this one as it’s just a medium size pumpkin and will sit well where I want it to go. It also had to be able to sit on a flat surface and not wobble over. The pumpkin needs to be in scale with your project. Too big a pumpkin will have your miniatures looking out of scale.

how to make a halloween pumpkin house

Today I had some free time so I carved the top of pumpkin like you normally would. It’s such a messy job with all the stringy insides sticking to your hands. It was time to scoop the seeds out and place them in the compost. Next I carefully cut an opening in the front. Above is the first hole I cut and decided that it wasn’t quite big enough so I made it a bit larger all the way around.

How to make a Halloween pumpkin house

You see, I wanted to place a plant saucer inside for extra stability. The opening was just big enough for me to slide it in. I started to add some moss before I did the photo so it’s a bit messy. I had all my Halloween decor with me and couldn’t wait to try it out for size. Try looking around at your local thrift shops for cute little figurines to use for your pumpkin scene. It could be anything from ghosts, witches and goblins.

How to make a Halloween pumpkin house

I lined the plate with green moss that I had leftover from making terrariums. It was just enough. Ugh, it seems like there is always one more strand of pumpkin goop to remove. I will never be completely done. I know, patience.

How to make a Halloween pumpkin house

I played around with some figurines. I like the scarecrow holding the ghost best. I have a witch but she is kind of creepy. I used the pumpkin rocks I made last year. If you want to see my Halloween miniature garden from last year, click here. I found some artificial fall leaves at the thrift shop this week. I knew they would come in handy. I removed the leaves carefully from the stem. Maybe they could line the entrance of the pumpkin.

How to make a Halloween pumpkin house

I tucked the leaves in around the opening of the pumpkin and placed some extra pumpkins at the sides. I decided to add the witch to the outside of the display along with a few more pumpkins. Not so bad for a rookie. I think next time I will use a deeper plant saucer and plant some tiny plants in soil. I may just add a battery operated tea light in a black pot. Hmmm… I see another trip to the thrift shop. I love reusing found items. Now if only I could find a cauldron. Perhaps just painting the plastic tea light black on the outside would do. That’s my next project.

How to make a halloween pumpkin house

I decided that my pumpkin house needed a bit more light so I cut a window on each side of the pumpkin. Windows make all the difference! I should have done this before everything went inside but it didn’t make any difference. I have placed this pumpkin scene on my dining room table. If you have a covered porch it would sit outside just fine. Unfortunately here the rain would turn it into mush so inside it stays. I get to enjoy it everyday.

7 Great Plants for Fall Colour

Fall is the perfect time of year to see great colour in your garden. If your garden is lacking in fall colour, get out and take a walk or a drive to see what others are planting in their gardens. The sign of a great garden is that it has strong bones in the winter. This is usually in the form of evergreens and deciduous trees. A tree with out leaves can look majestic in the winter especially if it has unusual bark patterns. Today we will look at some great plants to use in your garden for extra colour. Once our flowers are finished for the season, this is what we have left.

 
7 great Plants for Fall colour

This is Cotinus coggygria or smoke bush. It’s a shrub but can get to twenty feet unless pruned back a few feet each year. I love the deep purple leaves on this shrub. By pruning it a bit each spring, you will have a more compact shrub. If you leave it unpruned it will be a lot more open. It’s a matter of personal taste.I love how the rain and frost look on the leaves of this shrub, like diamonds.

7 great plants for fall colour

Everyone asks me what this plant is in the garden. Its called Persicaria virginiana or Tovara. It’s in bloom now and is a self sower so if the seeds drop to the ground I will have hundreds of new plants in the spring. They are easily removed but the flowering branches can also be removed before it sets seed. I grow it for the brown triangular pattern on the leaves. This plant is nice paired with Hostas in partial shade.

7 great plants for fall colour

I can say enough praise for Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’. The large heart-shaped leaves are still holding their own in mid October. This year I was able to find Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ and I am looking forward to seeing how it fares next year.

7 great plants for fall colour

When we moved here we found out that we had a sweet gum and a sour gum tree. Both are excellent choices for fall colour. The one pictured above is the sweet gum or Liquidambar with its maple like leaves. It’s just beginning to change colour and is about two weeks behind the sour gum tree. This is a large tree so you must have room for it. Our sweet gun tree is about thirty-five feet high and the last arborist that was here said it was one of the larger ones he had seen. They don’t seem to like being planting in the city and tend to break. It must be our good country air that makes this tree happy.

7 great plants for fall colour

If you have a small garden, why not grow blueberries. Blueberry shrubs can be grown in smaller gardens and just look at their fall colour. Our Delta soil is perfect for growing blueberries. Not only do you get flowers and fruit but fall colour as well. I say it’s a no brainer to choose a plant that has so many good attributes.

7 great plants for fall colour

How about Sage as an ornamental in the garden? So many relegate this plant to the herb garden when it can be used throughout the herbaceous border adding its lovely soft grey leaves. This older plant now sports a hint of purple and would look lovely planted with Heucheras in the gardens. Don’t forget Sage is evergreen and helps to form the bones of the garden. It loves a position in full sun and will attract bees to the garden.

7 great plants for fall colour

Just look at the blue flowers that Sage will give. So it has beautiful flowers, its evergreen, attracts beneficial insects and you can use it for cooking. It’s a must for every garden.

7 great plants for fall colour

Another wonderful plant to use in the garden is Skimmia. It has glossy green leaves with dark pink flowers in fall. I am not sure which cultivar this is but its one of my favourite plants.

7 great plants for fall colour

I planted the Skimmia with Hostas to have some contrast in the garden. I like the smaller leaves of Skimmia with the large Hosta leaves. Skimmia like a place in part shad to full shade. Mine are planted in deep shade of a cedar hedge and love it there.

There are many choices for fall colour in the garden. I showed a few of my favourites. It’s all about the foliage in my garden. If your garden has great foliage, there is almost no need for flowers. Today I am linking over at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up. 

 

Garden Clubs of Delta Have Me Hooked

Did you know that there is a garden club in Delta? Actually, there are two garden clubs, the South Delta Evergreen Garden Club and the Delta Diggers. The Delta Diggers garden club is based in North Delta and meets on the third Thursday of the month, except December and January, at the Kennedy Heights Seniors Center, 11760 88th Avenue in Delta,BC. Meetings begin at 730. I was honoured to present a talk at the Delta Diggers. What a welcoming group of gardeners. If you live in South Delta you may have heard of the South Delta Evergreen Garden Club. Its been in Delta since 1952. The garden club meets every third Tuesday at Kin House in Ladner, every month except July and August. It’s at this time of year when my gardens are beginning to wind down that I am seeking out new ideas for next years garden. What a better place to get inspiration by going to listen to great garden speakers at a garden club. This month the South Delta Evergreen Garden club has Pamela, Wendy and Elke from Botanus coming to talk about unusual bulbs for your garden. I have planted most of my spring-flowering bulbs but I am always game to buy some more. Isn’t every gardener? I am positive that this crew from Botanus will have some bulbs to sell. Why not add something a bit different to your garden this fall?
Garden clubs of Delta have me hooked

Lets take a quick look at what the garden club does in our community. Did you know they regularly maintain the courtyard garden at Delta Hospital. This garden is stunning and a wonderful place for patients and visitors alike. I know I spent a lot of time visiting a family member and enjoyed the garden on a daily basis. It provides the calm during stressful times of patient care.

Garden clubs of delta have me hooked

The South Delta Evergreen Garden club has many community projects and they are always looking for more. A few years ago they donated $2500 to the Ladner Community Garden so they could continue to build at the garden. They also help at Delta Secondary school memorial garden, a place dear to the hearts of many in our community.

Garden clubs of Delta have me hooked

I have been a member of the South Delta Evergreen Garden club for about ten years. Why do I love it? This is one of the tours we went one. I love getting out and looking at other gardens. From visiting members gardens to public display gardens, the club organizes  tours several times each year. Each month the speakers are amazing and I always come home having learned something new.

Garden clubs of delta have me hooked

At club meetings, members hold a show and share table. Members are encouraged to bring something from their garden. It is not judged so no pressure. You can display your favourite flower or the harvest from your garden.

Garden clubs of delta have me hooked

In December, the club gets together with a garden designer who shows them how to create a winter centerpiece. There are lots of laughs and conversation on these nights as we all try to be creative.

Garden clubs of delta have me hooked

The big event of the year is the plant sale. Over the years the garden club held plant sales that had lone lineups in the early morning hours. People knew they would get prized one of a kind plants at the sale. Over the last few years the garden club has held its annual plant sale at the Delta Hospital extended care ward. You see, a huge part of the profit from the plant sale goes back to the hospital. That’s what this garden club is all about, being a member in the community and giving back.

Are you going to come to a meeting? You can attend a meeting at no cost. Come try the club out and see if it suits your needs. Say hello if you see me there. The yearly membership is $20 and runs from January to December. Kin House is at 5050 47 avenue in Ladner.

How to Plant Spring Bulbs

If there is one thing that gardeners know it is how to be patient. Considering how fast paced our world is with having to know everything as it happens up to the second, being in the garden gives me time to daydream and plan for the following year. You see, plants are like that. They take time to grow and blossom. They are not instant and that’s a good thing. Being able to stay home and just putter in the garden gives me the down time I need to recharge for another day. Fall is now upon us and I feel nature’s clock ticking telling me I need to get my garden ready for winter.  As I clean up the garden , cut back plants and rake leaves I will be planting spring bulbs.

How to Plant Spring bulbs

If you have a garden full of deciduous trees, it’s the perfect place to plant your bulbs. In the spring the trees will be leafless letting in lots of sunshine for early plants to grow. As my back yard garden grows the shrubs and trees shade it a bit more each year. This means plants that need more sun will be moved and replaced with shade loving cousins. Transplanting will have to wait until spring as I have bulbs to plant. I want the garden full of bright colours come spring, chasing away the long winter days. When looking for spring bulbs check out your local garden centers. The selection can be quite overwhelming so ask questions if you are a new gardener. Stay with the tried and true such as Narcissus, commonly known as Daffodils, or with Tulips. They are so easy to grow. The next part is choosing the colours you want. Every colour is beautiful so don’t be too fussy. What you want to check out is when each bulb blooms. You can have bulbs bloom from February to late May. Read the package carefully to see when your bulbs will bloom and plan accordingly.

How to plant Spring bulbs

Usually Crocuses begin the show with Narcissus coming next and Tulips later. Above you can see Crocuses blooming along with miniature Narcissus called Tete a Tete. Notice how the bulbs look so natural like they have been there forever. You don’t want to plant your bulbs in straight lines but in clumps of five to seven bulbs together.

How to plant spring bulbs

Lets get started. Above I have laid out some taller growing Daffodils at the back with miniature Daffodils and Tulips near the front of the border. I like to lay all my bulbs out so I have a feel of where they should go. This way I can see if I have enough bulbs to do the whole back garden.

How to plant spring bulbs

It’s easiest to plant your bulbs if you have done some cleaning up in the garden.  Its time to remove your annual flowers now if you haven’t done so yet. Annual means they only live for this year and once they flower and set seed, the plant dies. This will leave you room for spring bulbs.

How to plant spring bulbs

When planting your spring bulbs, dig a hole for them that is at least three times the bulb size deep. So with the 2″ Daffodil bulbs above, the planting hole should be about 6″ deep. You may find it easier to dig the deeper holes with a shovel. At this point you could add some bone meal in the planting hole and mix it in with the soil. Place your spring bulbs in their holes pointed end up and try to have them not touch each other in the planting hole. If one bulb rots you don’t want it to infect the rest. Its important when buying bulbs to check them over. Do not plant bulbs that show signs of mould or are soft and squishy to the touch. I like to place my spring bulbs in their planting holes but I do not cover them with soil until all of them are in. All you need is for the phone to ring or a child to call you away. If you have covered your bulbs you may forget where you just planted them. I know I have done this before.

How to plant spring bulbs

Plant the shorter bulbs near the front of the border or in containers. You want them to be front and center so you can see them. I planted these tiny Narcissus along my front walkway. They always give a good show in the spring.

How to plant spring bulbs

I am completely hooked on species Tulips this year. The one above is called Tulip tarda. How are they different? They tend to naturalize easier than regular Tulips. They also open up wide on sunny days  and close up when its dark or on overcast days. There are often multiple flowers on one stem.

How to plant spring bulbs

This is why I love spring bulbs. The colours that they bring make everyone smile. Now its time to be patient. Your spring bulbs need a cold period in order to bloom. That’s why they are planted now. You can plant spring bulbs right up to the first frost. If you forget to plant some, do so as soon as possible. Late planted bulbs will usually grow but bloom later than normal. Fortunately they get back on schedule in the following year. Once the spring bulbs are in, finish your garden cleanup by raking leaves and cutting back your perennials. Soon it will a time of rest so we can plan for next year.

Primping for Fall in the Garden

My containers are getting a bit of a sprucing up this week. I couldn’t look at them any more. The basil is doing fine but the Marigolds are going to seed and the Liatris needs cutting back.

Primping for fall in the garden

This container was full of spring blooming Tulip bulbs and the Liatris followed so I had something in bloom for quite a long time. I always leave the bulbs in the container and top plant over them in the summer.

Primping for fall in the garden

I clipped the Liatris in the center right back. The foliage was yellowing and it should be fine to get through the winter. I yanked out the Marigolds and will gather seeds from them for next year. I left the basil in the pot as it’s just outside my front door. That makes it easy on rainy days to pinch some basil leaves off for dinner. Lets hope the basil lasts for a few more weeks.

Primping for fall in the garden

After I cleaned up the Liatris planting I dragged one of my little benches over to one side of the door. Its one of those freebies I picked up a couple of years ago. I added the lettering last year and use it for seating in the garden.

Primping for fall in the garden

Next I brought a planter from the back yard that my daughter had given me when she moved and couldn’t take it with her. I love this little tree. I believe it’s a Donard Monterey Cypress. I love the foliage on these trees but a word of caution, they are commonly sold as slow growing trees. Not! Once planted they seem to take off. This has tripled in size in just two years. Maybe its our rainfall that they like. I replaced the annual flowers around this tree with some pansies and a white Heather. I like Heather for its blooms in fall and spring. I am not sure how hardy this one is. Its foliage is a bit finer than other varieties. We will see if it makes it over the winter. I was going to add some Heuchera to the container as well but haven’t done that yet. There is also some Thyme still growing in this container and it will be left in there.

Primping for fall in the garden

My little scarecrow looks like he is ready for fall. All I need to add is a few pumpkins to the bench and I am done.

Primping for fall in the garden

I made the trip to the pumpkin farm and was wowed by all the different kinds I could choose from. I like the orange warty pumpkin I bought. I have more pumpkins coming from my garden but haven’t picked them yet.

Primping for fall in the garden

Last year I came home one day to find this witch sign in my front garden. It was hubby’s idea of a joke and he just waited until I saw it hiding in the shrubs, very carefully placed pointing at our front door. It was all in fun so I brought it out and placed it in one of my containers.

Primping for fall in the garden

Well, this is what I have done so far. I have a bale of straw to use up but plans are still in the works for that. It’s not much but a start.

Primping for fall in the garden

Until I harvest more pumpkins I will leave this bouquet of flowers outside. I was digging up my Dahlias for winter storage and picked a nice bouquet for myself.

Primping for fall in the garden

There are still so many flowers in bloom. It hardly seems like time for fall decorating but winter will be here before we know it.

Late Blooming Flowers of September

Its time for garden cleanup here and with a half-acre garden I need to start early. I love cleaning up in the fall as I get to enjoy the subtleties of the changing seasons. The leaves are beginning to change colour and the plants are setting seed. The birds are loving the seed heads and I will leave many plants standing for them to feed upon.

Late blooming flowers of september

I noticed that the dogwood has its fruit just waiting for the birds to come and enjoy it.

Late blooming flowers of september

The Asters are in full bloom much to the bee’s delight. I planted this clump in a container last year and its done well with minimal watering.

late blooming flowers of september

I combined the Aster with a grass called ‘Morning Light’ which didn’t do as well as I thought it would. I removed a couple of clumps of dead growth in hopes it will do better next year. I filled the container with Heuchera that I had propagated. One plant gave me about fifteen new plants and they had to go somewhere. On the right the Heuchera leaves are beginning to change colour. I had brought a huge pot of Artemisia home last year when my mom moved to a condo. So far I have only planted it in this container but have enough to do a whole garden in the spring. I will leave the Lemon Gem Marigolds for a couple more weeks. It’s hard to remove plants that are doing so well and Marigolds will often bloom until first frost.

late blooming flowers of september

What surprised me yesterday was seeing honeysuckle in bloom. I know what you are thinking. It’s so invasive. Well, this plant actually died back for over a year and now its back. Hubby may have weeded it out by accident, we are not sure. Having fragrance in the garden in late September is a bonus. There is lots of room for it to grow on the thirty foot long arbor.

late blooming flowers of september

The Roses are quickly fading but they are producing hips adding red to the garden.

late blooming flowers of september

This is a climber along my back fence. Can you believe there are still buds on this plant?

late blooming flowers of september

As I tidy the garden I plan for the following year. Do I need to add some bulbs here? Where am I lacking in colour? Can I ever beat the battle with morning glory and horsetail? I know that answer. Asters, Sedum and Rudbeckia finish the show in my garden. Rose leaves drop by the hundreds under the arbor and its a daily job to clean them up. I am never too tidy in the garden as I leave bits of twigs and plant debris behind. That leftover debris is valuable nesting material come spring. Some gardens are left to be covered in a mulch of leaves. Others are cleaned up to prevent disease, especially under the roses.

DSC07267

The bees are still busy in the garden enjoying the flowers in bloom. There is always something blooming in my garden. Once the Sedum and Asters finish the Viburnum bodnantense will burst into bloom for the winter.  It’s another month yet until frost arrives so its time to enjoy the crisp cool mornings and sunny days that are left.

Pumpkin Surprise at the School Garden

pumpkin surprise at the school garden

Its been a busy day as I try to get the children’s school garden in ship-shape before the children arrive next week. The weeds had grown and I couldn’t have thistles in the garden. I am glad the cleanup is now done and we are ready for forty children to arrive. They will be so excited to see the pumpkin patch. Mildew has taken its toll on the leaves but the children won’t care. They will race to see the pumpkins at every chance they get. How big will they be? Are they ready to pick? Will we use them for Halloween? I will be bombarded with questions next week.

pumpkin surprise at the school garden

Some surprising things happened with the pumpkins this year. If you look at the top photo the plants are actually planted in the raised bed with the scarecrow but the vines have travelled. This is one large plant! What really surprised me is that when I went to lift one of the vines in the second bed, it had rooted to the soil. Many plants will root like this but I didn’t expect it to happen with pumpkins.

pumpkin surprise at the school garden

This rooting has almost given the plants a new life as they develop new fruit. It’s now the end of September so this pumpkin may never develop but with good weather forecasted, you never know.

pumpkin surprise at the school garden

So far we only have five pumpkins on the plants. When I planted the Howden pumpkin seeds I researched more about them and it said they would be your usual grocery store pumpkin. Well, let’s just say they are a lot bigger than that. I am not sure if I will be able to lift them without hubby’s help. You see, we will be taking the pumpkins to the school and using them to make pumpkin soup. There is nothing better than learning how to grow and eat from the garden.

Pumpkin surprise at the school garden

I think at our first class, we will do some measuring, learn about circumference. My small food scale won’t work on this big guy. I may have to use a bathroom scale. I am sure I will have eager children wanting to help lift this pumpkin, don’t you?