One of my favorite things about fall are all the varieties of beautiful gourds and pumpkins you can find at farm stands, pumpkin patches—even your local grocery store! A couple of weeks back, I was at the Food Emporium around the corner from my apartment just after they had just gotten their first shipment of pumpkins for the season. Two of them caught my eye right away. The first was the classic orange type with a beautiful long stem. The other was less traditional, a silvery green with a really great shape. So I thought, how cool would it be to do two totally different pumpkin arrangements using all fall flowers? One would go the more traditional route with classic colors, like yellow and burnt orange. The other could be something totally unexpected—still appropriate for the season but in a different, more subtle way. 

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Mums are such a popular flower for the fall, so with the un-traditional arrangement, I definitely wanted to mix things up a bit. On the way back from the store, pumpkins in hand, I stopped at the bodega just to see what I could find. The first thing I went for was a grouping of mums, all in gorgeous tones of lavender and purple that would be perfect with the silvery green of the pumpkin.

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When I got home, the first thing I did was make a small, round cut at the top. I used a pairing knife, but you could easily use any number of tools specially made for carving pumpkins. Just make sure the opening isn’t too wide!

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Next, scoop out the seeds, but don’t throw them away! Later, they’re going to be great for toasting. And how pretty is that color on the inside? It totally reminded me of a ripe papaya, and it smelled just as sweet!

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Check out the final result! Purpley mums in a gray-green pumpkin—it’s such an unexpected take on a classic fall arrangement. And you know what? It really wasn’t that hard at all, I promise you! If you have a few minutes, click over to the videos I did on how to make professional looking flower arrangements. All the same principles apply! For this one, I used a flower frog in a plastic container filled with water. It helps keep your pumpkin fresh and your flowers last longer. And here’s a little more advice: think clusters. Group similar flowers together, either by variety or tone, for a more natural looking arrangement. Here, I placed mine on an ironstone compote I found at an antique mall up in Hyde Park, not too far from where I went to culinary school! And do you remember those old doilies I made modern by dying them all gray? For Halloween, I thought this one added a kind of cool spooky factor to the arrangement. It’s almost like a spider web but in a sophisticated, subtle way. For a smashing pumpkin centerpiece on a circular table, pair it with a beautiful gray linen tablecloth, an oversized doilie in a darker tone, white plates, gray napkins, polished silver candlesticks and little green gourds turned into votives. How pretty is that?      

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For a more traditional take on pumpkin arrangements, stick to the orange kind. They’re classic and straight-up pretty, especially paired with hypericum berries and dahlias in all the colors of the season. You know when you’re watching a really beautiful sunset and it’s those last few minutes just before the sun dips out of sight? The sky bursts into such vibrant colors—rich reds, yellows and oranges—just like these flowers! This arrangement I see as a grouping going down the center of a long farm table. At every setting, there’s an antique yellowware pie plate, wooden and bone handled flatware, a marigold yellow linen napkin tied with bittersweet vine and a pretty brown place card cut into the shape a pumpkin leaf.

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And now that you saved all those seeds, toss them in Kosher salt and toast them up for a healthy, crunchy snack. If sweets are more your thing, mix in roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate for a delicious homemade pumpkin trail mix.

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