Califonia Bountiful

Gardening: Amazing vase

Sept./Oct. 2011 California Country magazine

Pumpkins make unique floral arrangements

I'm always looking for flower arrangements and table decorations—from the garden, of course—that are outside the box, different, even a little edgy. I saw this idea in a magazine years ago: using a pumpkin as a vase.

The secret is the container holding the water and the flowers is inside the pumpkin. And it's so easy.

Choose a pumpkin slightly taller than the container you want to use. Make sure it's flat enough on the bottom to sit upright. For a container, I used a quart- or pint-sized canning jar. You can use a can, a vase or whatever you have on hand.

Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin big enough to slip your container inside. I used the container as a pattern and traced a circle around it on the pumpkin. Cut straight down, not at an angle, or the container won't fit inside. Scoop out the seeds.

Place the container inside, add water and arrange your flowers. I've used roses, cornstalks, sprigs of ivy, coneflower, oregano, yarrow, nandina—whatever I have in the garden.

A series of miniature pumpkins with tiny arrangements (use votive holders for the vases) looks great on the dinner table, or a series of different sizes.

The pumpkins last for several weeks, so you can keep adding fresh flowers and greenery as needed. It's so quick and easy, you'll find yourself creating these one-of-a-kind vases again and again. Plus, they make great hostess gifts.

Pat Rubin is a longtime gardener and garden writer. Send questions or ­comments to her at

Gardening to-do list for September/October

  • For any plants susceptible to snails and slugs, clean up fallen leaves around them so pests have no place to hide for the winter.
  • Visit nurseries to see trees and shrubs with their fall colors. That way you know what you're getting.
  • Bring tender succulents and cacti in for the winter—against the house works well—to keep them from getting nipped by cold weather. Do not water succulents if frost is predicted; keep them on the dry side for the winter.
  • Broadcast wildflower seeds like poppies and lupine for spring bloom.
  • Annual flowers are arriving in nurseries. It's time to buy and plant snapdragons, pansies, violas, calendula, stock, sweet alyssum and more.
  • In the vegetable garden, plant cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, beets and onions. Remember to add compost to the soil when planting.
  • Divide overgrown perennials when they finish blooming. This includes daylilies, agapanthus and many ornamental grasses.
  • Plant garlic in October for harvest next June.
  • Clean up the summer vegetable garden: Pull weeds, compost spent vegetable plants and add compost.
  • Fall bulbs begin arriving. Check out the selection and plant something you've never tried before. Remember to plant bulbs in clumps outdoors so they look natural. Start planting daffodil bulbs. Plant every two to three weeks for a long spring bloom season.
  • If you've put houseplants outside for the summer, now is the time to bring them in. Quit fertilizing them until next spring.

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