The Gourd Life: 6 Ways to Display Your Pumpkins and Winter Squash

PHOTOS BY RYAN BENOIT

Fall 2013 will forever be known as the season that we descended into sheer pumpk-insanity. This madness began with our haul from Bates’ Nut Farm. Remember the Ghostly Lumina white minis, the long-necked squash, and the obscenely large, incredibly orange Prizewinner? And the turban squash all cartoonishly mottled? That’s 80-plus pounds of squash goodness we had to move from our driveway to our yard. But we managed, and last week we got to work displaying our pumpkins in the garden.

To think, a year ago we had maybe one measly pumpkin to our name. (Last fall I was mostly studying for the GRE, hunched over permutation problems and index cards with words like “adumbrate.”) This year we made up for lost time: The challenge was to take our squash, so often associated with rustic vignettes, and make them feel at home in our garden with its modern industrial style.

And then we had some friends over to help break in the fall décor!

1. First, there’s our ever-changing cinder block sculpture. No more complicated than hardware store cinder blocks stacked in a geometrical (and somewhat Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired) formation, this sculpture provides a natural home for our mini pumpkins, tiger squash and Wee Bee Littles. We ended up doing a formation of alternating pumpkins and tea lights for a look that we call “deconstructed jack o’ lantern.”

RMB_1533

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1388

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-pumpkins-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1516

2. The height and airiness of our arbor/rolling entertainment shelter make it a natural match for the bigger boys. Even though they’re below eye level, the Prizewinner pumpkin, turban squash and the long-neck squash refuse to be ignored.

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1504

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1514

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1512

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1503

3. We arranged our store-bought butternut squash in a chevron formation that — just kidding, we ate it. This butternut squash soup with star anise and ginger shrimp — which Ryan made — was a major crowdpleaser. Find the recipe on Epicurious, especially if you’re looking for an autumn dish with an unlikely weightlessness. It’s delicious!

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1221

4. For a monochromatic moment, we put the Kelly green kabocha squash next to the aloe under our hammock.

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1510

5. And what to do with the warty stepsisters! These gourds we got from the supermarket. Their lumpy, harlequin exterior pops nicely against the chalkboard wall of our outdoor kitchen.

RMB_1547

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1494

6. We were so enchanted by the misty green-gray color of the Jarrahdale that we had to buy two. Jarrahdale and the dramatically ridged Fairytale are two pumpkin varieties that are spooky in a beautiful way. Together they make a whimsical trio under our orange tree and kinetic wind sculpture.

RMB_1539

Fall-Decorating-Entertaining-with-gourds-ryanbenoitphoto-thehorticult-RMB_1493

Who knew concrete and cucurbits would get along so well? These pumpkins, so bright and irregular and shamelessly pumpkin-like, take us to faraway, storybook places even as they make us feel more at home. —TH