Among the various objets d'art that grace people's yards, patios and porches, outdoor Halloween decorations are my favorite. But as a gardener, why not use flowers to supplement those ornaments? The harvest is, after all, at the heart of this celebration. Pumpkins and other components of the harvest are right at home with flowers, both being garden denizens.
For those who live in northern climes, outdoor Halloween decorating celebrates both the culmination of the garden's spring-through-summer strivings and its last hurrah. It is a bittersweet time, but also the only time in which we may enjoy the best of both worlds outdoors: namely, the products of the harvest, as well as flower gardens that are still hanging in there, if not thriving. Not to mention the fall foliage, which is Mother Nature's contribution to outdoor Halloween decorating.
Flowers for Outdoor Halloween Decorating: A Last Hurrah
Pumpkins are harvested from the garden to stand side by side with chrysanthemum flowers as living outdoor Halloween decorations. Yes, we revel in sprinkling the October yard with images of witches, ghosts and other macabre elements. But fall flowers in our gardens, especially those orange or yellow in color, should also assume the role of outdoor Halloween decorations. It is the last chance for many of us to enjoy the outdoors until the holiday of 4-leaf clovers, Saint Patrick's Day.
Outdoor Halloween decorating of all types (natural as well as store-bought) should be thought of in terms of creative landscaping. Remember, this is a wild, fun holiday: ghosts and ghouls know no rules. So do some experimenting with your plantings. Seek new ideas for creative landscaping! Don't stick to using the traditional aster and chrysanthemum flowers every year as Halloween decorations. For instance, in the photo at the top of the page, you see a fall scene just outside a back door, dominated by an angel's trumpet plant (Brugmansia Datura) whose blooming had been retarded during the summer by transplanting. It would be difficult for chrysanthemums to rival this display. Angel's trumpets do not supply fall foliage, but these poisonous plants more than makes up for it with aromatic, pendulous blossoms.
Nor should you overlook the creative landscaping potential of native plants for outdoor Halloween decorations. Goldenrod can be a fine addition to a patch of landscape that would otherwise be neglected. The fall foliage of sumac shrubs is brilliant and, as fast-growing shrubs, you don't have to wait long after planting them before you can enjoy the results in your landscape. Many people adore bittersweet vine, although the Oriental variety is terribly invasive and wreaks havoc with trees. Less destructive (but still aggressive) is Virginia creeper, which also offers rich fall foliage.
Outdoor Halloween Decorations That You Buy, Make
Among store-bought items, increasingly popular for outdoor Halloween decorations are the giant nylon inflatables (as in the picture on Page 1 of this article). These outdoor Halloween decorations light up at night, and all sorts of figures are available, including spiders, ghosts and witches, as well as jack-o-lanterns. Just plug in these colorful outdoor Halloween decorations, and they inflate in about 3 minutes.
Drawing on your arts and crafts talents to make your own outdoor Halloween decorations is also part of what makes this a fun holiday, packed with potential for creative displays outdoors. A friend once told me, "If you haven't made a scarecrow in at least five different styles by the time you're forty, then you need to get in touch with your artistic side." A splendid idea for novel jack-o-lanterns involves using a hardshell gourd instead of a pumpkin. These gourds dry to a woody consistency, and can be re-used as outdoor Halloween decorations year in and year out.
From carving pumpkins to creating graveyard scenes, Halloween offers something to suit just about every taste. So let your hair down and have as much fun with your outdoor Halloween decorations as Trick or Treaters have with their candy. Considering the convoluted history behind this controversial holiday, it is unlikely anyone will take you to task for flaunting traditions in your yard's decor. If you can't flaunt them for All Hallows' Eve, when can you?