Though I was surprised to hear from this client that Halloween was one of her family’s most important holidays, she had good reasons. A sister living in Brazil came to visit every Halloween. The family spent Christmas week skiing, away from home. Last but not least, she has a slew of kids. She had boxes of Halloween props-we used them all. A large antique English stone urn took the insult rather well, I thought. Bamboo dyed black, and a stick stack of decidedly unnatural color provided perches for three ravens. Green millet and orange integrifolia clashed noisily. The giant spiders -they were creepy to look at in broad daylight.
We would put up the Halloween decorations the beginning of October. For this reason, the use of wood props and plastic carved pumpkins seemed like a good idea. Though I am not a big fan of mums, these bushel basket grown plants add big splashes of color. The skull lights along the walk are a favorite of the kids.
Though the scarecrow witch seemed sweet and benign, those spiders create an unmistakeable mood. We managed to find a spot for every bat, skull and skeleton in my client’s collection. At Halloween, more is always better.
The side porch columns get dressed up in broomcorn, sticks and whatever else is available at market, all of which is held in place with zip ties covered in giant raffia bows. The corn gets zipped on in three layers, from top to bottom. Each new layer covers the construction materials of the preceding layer. I have also dressed tree trunks in similar outfits.
The side porch door gets the most family traffic in and out, so we give it the full treatment. All of the carved pumpkins are lit from the inside. Good and spooky night lighting is a key element.
Another year we went for more gloom. Black millet, maroon lettuce and dead grass make a good nest for the spider. New skull lights illuminate the walk. Don Taylor grew the impossibly long gourds; he trained the vines up and over a pergola, so the fruits would grow upright and down. One gourd was closing in on eight feet long.
I bought boxes and boxes of little spiders. These we attached to every available surface with a hot glue gun. This was tedious work, but the effect was suitably revolting. At the time this picture was taken, we still had at least 500 spiders yet to stick up.
The side porch got giant webby garlands of hemp fiber and grapevine. And more spiders. Amazingly, the big spiders were entirely wired, permitting us to place them in the most threatening positions we could dream up.
This sweet little vintage farm girl peeking out of her pumpkin home seems oblivious to the coming invasion of the spiders. Poor thing; pity that!