October 4, 2013

Almost Instant Pumpkin Patch

Making an (almost) instant pumpkin patch for your front yard
will be fun for you to enjoy through the Fall and for folks that
walk or drive by your home.  You can use real or not 
real pumpkins or a mix of the two.

The "Almost" part of the pumpkin patch means that
you DO have to go get some pumpkins and you
DO have to find some vines to complete the illusion.
It's better than waiting months for the real thing though!

To make it look like the pumpkins are still in a patch
and growing, try to find some vines to attach to the pumpkin
stems.  I found these on a vacant lot near my house.
They are dead and brittle...if you can find live vines, they 
would work better as you can bend them to look more real.

When I first put the store-bought pumpkins out by the 
mailbox, I didn't paint the vines.  

I was just trying to get some kind of Fall decor out in 
the yard because we had company coming.

The vines were placed on the stems of the pumpkins
and attached with wood glue.

After the yard decorating emergency passed, I realized that if 
  watered-down green paint was applied to the vines and
 pumpkin stems, it might help further the thought to viewers
 that the pumpkins were still in a patch and growing.

There is still some clematis, morning glories, and
what is left of the passion vine growing on the mailbox
which helps the illusion of growth still going on.
Some of the alive vines were wrapped around the 
dead vines to help them look alive too.

A couple of  mums were recently planted and also
 a few zinna plants are still blooming at the mailbox.

I used to pull up the passion vine as a weed, but then I 
realized that it is a plant that thrives in the hot afternoon
 sun and never needs watering or attention...
that's my kind of plant. It is a host vine for
the Gulf Frittillary butterfly's life cycle we have found.

The mature butterfly lays her eggs on the passion vine.

After a while the eggs hatch into caterpillars.
They eat the leaves of the passion vine (they don't eat 
the leaves of the other vines) and get bigger.

When they reach a certain size, they hang upside down and
 then within a few hours they form an intricate chrysalis.

After several weeks, they emerge as a new butterfly themselves.
This is a newly-emerged butterfly. 
The picture is showing the bottom of its wings.
 As the butterfly starts opening the wings and gaining
 strength you can see the orange part  (top part) of the wings.
The butterfly is still hanging on to its chrysalis.

OK Mr. Slug...don't go eating holes my pumpkins...I am 
expecting them to last through Thanksgiving as decorations.

I'm not too worried about you Gulf Frittillary caterpillar...
you are just looking for some more passion vine leaves to eat.
Are those your "droppings" on my pumpkin?

I got so many nice comments and questions from neighbors
 and passersby on the mailbox pumpkin patch that I 
decided to do another one too.

On the second pumpkin patch, the area has some scrubby bushes
but not any vines so I found and cut a wild vine with lots of branches for that area. 

Another difference in this patch is that I am adding some faux
pumpkins in with real ones. Most of the faux ones that are
going out here are ones that have seen better days and don't 
need to be seen up close (like only from car windows).
 I'm in the process of rehabbing more for this area.

Here's a couple of things I like to do when trying to make
my faux pumpkins go for another season or change
their color (like if you find an ugly but cheap one):
Adding plaster of paris to acrylic paint makes the
paint stick better to the faux pumpkin surface.

Since the plaster makes the paint thick, you need
to add a little water to the mix also.
You can mix several different shades of pumpkin colors to layer
over each other on the old pumpkins to make them look more real.

Second tip: When the paint is dry on the pumpkin, 
it will look flat and chalky.
Rub a coat of clear wax on top of the paint to give it a sheen.
Depending on how much shine you want,
 you can add more than one coat of wax.

This faux pumpkin has no stem at all and a huge hole in it.
I tried to make a stem and vine combo out of the dead vines
wrapped with a vine-like wire (you can find it a Michael's).

Then the vine got painted with watered-down green paints.
It is too straight to look like a stem in a real pumpkin patch but
 from my neighbors I get comments like "I don't remember
 those pumpkins growing as I drove by" or "You mean those
are not really growing there?".

I also tried to make the pumpkin in the middle have a vine
added to it's stem with wire and wood glue. 

The side-lying pumpkin got a vine added with just wood glue.

 After painting all these contraptions with the watered down
green paint, the stems and vines blended together better visually.

I came across some $1 sweet potato plants at a local
nursery and decided to plant them with the pumpkins
in hope that the leaves would look somewhat like
pumpkin vines' leaves. 
The vines are growing every day.

When I saw more pretty real pumpkins at a store for $4
each, I couldn't resist and made another almost instant
pumpkin patch in a planting area along the sidewalk. 

It is also a blend of real and faux pumpkins.

More dead vines painted green to mimick growing pumpkins.

Two of the Cinderella pumpkins (used for inside-the-house decorating ) got "The Mold".  Instead of dumping them
 in the garbage, I decided to put them in this patch
 and "A.N.D." them.  At the hospital where I work
this term means "Allow Natural Death" for a patient
(i.e. "Do Not Resusitate" or "No Code") .
Who knows, maybe as they disintegrate and their seeds go into
 the soil, we may have a for real pumpkin patch here next year.

To tie the pumpkin theme into the front door Fall decor, 
I added faux pumpkins to the urns also.  

The urns still have zinnas and mandevilla growing in them. 
I hate to rip out stuff still growing so instead I just added some
faux Fall colored flowers and leaves from the attic to the mix.

Keeping the orange color scheme going, I stacked two
Fall wreaths (wired together for fullness) for the door.

Here are a couple of overview photos of the front 
of the house with the three patches and the door area:

If you decide to make an (almost) instant pumpkin patch 
(or two or three) for this Fall, you will probably get 
nice comments from your neighbors too!

I am sharing this post over at
It's Fall Y'all Outdoor Decor Party @ Southern Hospitality
Be Inspired @ Common Ground Blog
Amaze Me Monday @ Dwellings ...The Heart of Your Home
Weekend Bloggy Reading @ Serenity Now
Sunday Showcase Link Party @ Twigg Studios
Saturday Show and Tell @ Cheerios and Lattes
Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper
Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table and Dreaming


  1. LOVE this - I wish you were my neighbor!

  2. You really think things out when you're planning your d├ęcor. Your pumpkin patch looks so lovely and real! I have a problem with my fake pumpkins blowing away when it gets windy. Haven't figured out how to hold them down without putting large holes in them.

  3. Brilliant and very well executed! Now, I want a pumpkin patch.

  4. That is absolutely amazing! How clever are you? Very, I must say!
    Just gorgeous...

    Happy Fall to you!

  5. Wow, I love your instant pumpkin patch...so clever! And what a welcoming entry way, so pretty! Would love for you to share at AMAZE ME MONDAY...

  6. Lucky neighbors to be able to enjoy your pumpkin patch. Love the look, especially with the vines you attached and the passion vine and clematis wrapped around them. Thanks for the inspiration. Visiting from Southern Hospitality.

  7. Love the pops of orange that the pumpkins bring, so colorful and brightens everything up, love the pumpkins out there,.,Phyllis


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