Gardening ideas from Evelyn: Mum’s the word for fall, along with pumpkins

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Chrysanthemums and pumpkins can bring fall to your entry, hearth or centerpiece.

Chrysanthemums are an ancient flower, going back as early as 15 BC. Long-lasting and easy to care for, they are the ultimate fall flower and come in every fall color. Chrysanthemum is such a long word; it’s much easier just to say “mum.”

Here are some easy ideas.

Tip No. 1: All you need are two or three mums and a few pumpkins to bring fall to your hearth or front door. Group them together using some upside-down old pots for a stair-step look. Add a bird-attracting millet grass plant (which looks a little like cornstalks, but better), and you have a perfect fall look.

Tip No. 2: Get creative. Great family projects can involve everyone from the youngest child to grandparents. Hollow out a pumpkin and then drill multiple holes in fun patterns. Try spray-painting your pumpkins in wild colors. How about silver and black using silver dusty miller to plant in your pumpkin? What about an outrageous purple with an autumn-orange mum? Decorate with reindeer dried moss that comes in purples, oranges or chartreuse green, or with Spanish moss to make great stringy, scary hair. Hollow out a side opening and put in a little gnome and other scary miniatures.

Tip No. 3: Very popular now is the succulent topping to a pumpkin. Just scoop out a little from the top and decorate with small pieces of succulent. Snip them right from your garden; no need for roots. Pick some tall, some round and some full or some cascading over the side. There is no wrong way to do this. That is especially true when children are helping. Use a glue gun or other glue to fasten the cuttings into a pretty succulent cap. They don’t need any water. We had one at Weidner’s Gardens that lasted into spring.

Tip No. 4: Make your pumpkin into a planter and plant your mum inside. Surround it with gourds or smaller pumpkins.

Tip No. 5: Take three potted mums. Make an easy burlap pot cover for each, tied with bright ribbon or natural raffia. Put them on your kitchen window, and you have fall in a minute.

Tip No. 6: Here are some care and feeding hints for your mum. Don’t let it dry out. Water every day in our weather. You don’t need to feed it while it is blooming. Trim off the center flowers as they start to fade. There are more buds in the cluster. Give it plenty of light. When it is done blooming, you can throw it away or cut it back to several inches above the pot and plant it out in your garden to become a perennial garden mum.

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