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Last weekend, I spent a few hours cleaning flowerbeds, pulling weeds, and deadheading spent blossoms. While I worked, I thought about my Halloween garden.
Have you noticed? Halloween occurs naturally in your garden. Halloween must surely be Mother Nature’s favorite holiday. Maybe it’s merely a matter of perspective, but after providing us with sweet-smelling spring blossoms and brilliant summer color, our flowers and plants take on a heavy, sleepy, Halloween-ish air to me. By October, our garden deserves a rest.
So do all the dedicated gardeners.
Yes, it’s no secret that Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the nostalgia of it, the costumes and funky home décor. Halloween provides the perfect excuse to make another trip to the nursery for pots of yellow chrysanthemums. But I don’t limit my Halloween imagination to the front porch steps.
So what exactly is the Halloween Garden? It’s more than a bright orange pumpkin placed in the front bed where the black-eyed Susans have grown tired. More than anything, it’s an idea. Our gardens are already getting into the Halloween spirit. All we have to do is notice.
I snapped a few pictures to show you what I mean.
Got dried coneflowers? Leave them for the birds. The goldfinches in particular love to perch and eat their fill.
By this time of year, seeds are practically hurdling from coneflower pods to the soil. Not only will your blooms multiply next summer, but you’ll welcome trick-or-treaters along a garden pathway fit for The Addams Family.
As milkweed pods split open in October, seeds sail on ghostly fluff. Seeds spread by the wind have a better chance of germinating than those we sow in spring. It’s as though they sense winter coming and can time their growth with uncanny perfection.
What happens if you leave daylilies in the garden to dry all summer and into fall? They morph into exquisite skeletons. Leave them to stand like watchmen in your Halloween garden or use them in a unique dried arrangement.
By October, the showy pink flowers of our gigantic oakleaf hydrangea have faded to nut brown. These beauties provide structure to our Halloween garden. At day’s end, the observant might notice their shadows crawling along the side of the house, cast by a disappearing sun.
Purple sweet potato vine, so dark the leaves are nearly black, is a perfectly sullen and broody Halloween window box plant. Don’t you agree? (These planters silently guard the Headquarters House in Fayetteville.)
Old-fashioned cockscomb adds a flash of rich color in the fall garden. Think vampires in black tuxedos with velvet fuchsia pocket squares.
As leaves turn brittle and drift to the ground, gnarly branches reach out and appear to grab passersby. I celebrate wise old trees in the Halloween garden, home to bats and owls and flocks of blackbirds. The more warts and imperfections, the wiser.
Beans are symbolic of magic and power, a nod to harvest, spiritual resurrection, growth. And fee-fi-fo-fum, let’s not forget Jack and the Beanstalk. In my ten-year-old mind, Jack’s beans were of the hyacinth variety. Today, I pluck purple hyacinth beans from lush vines and save them in a Mason jar for blooms next spring. How can they not be otherworldly at Halloween?
As I spend time inspecting my Halloween garden, I find exciting critters lurking about—spiders in ethereal webs, a praying mantis biding his time, a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar that looks like a yellow plastic fishing lure. Remember, insects in the garden can be a good thing. At Halloween or anytime.
Now tell me, what’s growing (or fading) in your Halloween garden?
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