Halloween - My Top 10 Plants to create a Halloween vibe in your Garden.
I enjoyed thinking through the plants I have selected here. I'm not sure if there are other similar posts from garden writers out there, though I suspect so. Will be interesting to see how many overlaps in plant selection appear (hopefully not many).
Anyway, down to business, with a little double, double, toil and trouble... (always feels like it should be 'bubble, bubble' rather than 'double, double', but I imagine Shakespeare knew what he was thinking and it made sense to him at least).
Thought that I would write about plants for a Halloween theme and set to thinking about plants in flower or are looking good on the 31st of October in the UK. There are quite a few, more than you might initially think in flower, though didn't fit the theme of Halloween, so were abandoned; instead, I thought about spooky looking, or sounding (name of plant) to select my Top 10. While some excellent choices such as such Crocosmia 'Lucifer' immediately sprung to mind, they have long finished flowering by the end of October, so didn't make the cut. Neither did Agapanthus 'Black Magic', which for me at least, has finished flowering by October. I also haven't included any of the conifers or dwarf trees created out of grafting 'Witches' Broom' growth which can appear on larger plants. Felt this was perhaps just a bit too nebulous. Finally, I have only included plants that can be reliably grown outdoors in the UK. The exception to this is the Fuchsia, which is not hardy, so is either grown as an annual bedding plant or overwintered in a frost-free environment for protection.
Here are my spooktacular Top 10 Halloween themed plants to grow in your garden;
Cucurbita pepo varieties (Pumpkins and Gourds Well, obviously!)
Not a great deal to say about the now ubiquitous Pumpkin, other than there really are lots of Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourd species that you can grow as annual crops in the UK from seed sown spring. Some are better flavoured than others, but all can be carved if you are so inclined. They have a high requirement for water to grow, so can be a bit needy, especially in drier areas. I think growing them directly into a Compost heap is often a good idea. The heat, moisture and endless root run seems to work more than it fails. I'm a big fan of Patty Pan Squash 'Disco' to eat and it looks cool too, though is too small to make much of display pumpkin at Halloween. In the UK, traditionally we used Turnips, Swedes (the yellow turnip, not the people) and Mangelwurzels (look it up).
Physalis alkekengi (now Alkekengi officinarum) (Chinese Lantern)
An interesting herbaceous perennial plant in autumn and worth growing for the papery covering of the fruit, which look like hanging orange lanterns - I like when the skeletonise during the winter as pictured above and below. Now separated from the Genus Physalis, which includes Physalis peruviana (Cape Gooseberry, that odd fruit placed on the plate by a dessert in a restaurant), it is related, but not directly and I don't recommend eating the fruit. You can grow the Cape Gooseberry in the UK as an annual plant, but Alkekengi officinarum is a perennial and so easier to keep, if only to look at and not to eat.