It’s that time of year – when the glowing orange globes appear on stairs and porches; grinning and gurning, as they ward off the spirits of All Hallow’s Eve.
The tradition of pumpkin carving began centuries ago in Ireland and originated from the myth of Stingy Jack – an unsavoury chap who tricked the devil into waiving claim on his soul. When he died, he was refused entry to heaven and hell and was left to wander the world for eternity, his path lit by a burning ember placed inside a carved out turnip.
People in Ireland and Scotland would carve scary faces into turnips and potatoes to ward off ‘Jack of the Lantern’ who then became known as ‘Jack O’Lantern’. When immigrants moved to North America they took the tradition with them, where it was eagerly adopted by locals who used their native pumpkins instead.
As you can see from the photo above my pumpkin carving skills are… erm… rudimentary at best. But as Halloween gets bigger every year, so does this fruity art form (yes, pumpkins are fruits! Did you read more in my post about making pumpkin pie topped with candied pecans?).
LAVENDER GREEN FLOWERS is one of London’s premier florists, with a picture-perfect shop in the heart of Fulham. Not content with simply whipping up divine floral arrangements, they also create grotesquely gorgeous carved and painted pumpkins, to ring in All Hallow’s Eve in style. To ensure your gourds remain in peak condition for the spooky season, the Lavender Green Flowers team have offered up their top Halloween pumpkin tips and tricks:
PICK THE RIGHT PUMPKIN:
Make sure you select one which is smooth and sits well on its own. Beware of mould around the stem, a telling sign it’s already an old pumpkin. Look for a blemish-free one, with a really bright orange colour. Having a pumpkin with a stalk adds character and so often, these are missing.
If you’re going for a traditional jack-o-lantern pumpkin, make sure you have the right tools, a carving kit can be purchased at most supermarkets these days. Once cut, rub vaseline on the open parts to avoid the pumpkin drying out. If it does start to dry out, soak in water for a few hours to revive it. Another good tip is to spray a water/bleach solution too, this will keep mould and insects away. Carve all around the pumpkin so that it can be admired from all angles. Our most successful lanterns have a happy face on one side and a more macabre face on the other.
If you want to opt for decorating instead of carving there are many sites that can help with inspiration; Pinterest always has great ideas. This year we’ve found that metallic paint has worked incredibly well, either as a solid colour or as a good base for a design. The usual Halloween characters (spiders, bats etc) look great, but a simple word such as BOO! or an emoji works well too, as does a full-on glittered pumpkin in an array of colours. Spray painting through lace is another great option, as the delicate pattern looks amazing against the solid shape – we even have Stephen King-inspired IT monsters and unicorn pumpkins.
If you plan on decorating your pumpkin instead of carving it, craft and fancy dress shops are great places to buy decorations for your pumpkin, however if you want to opt for a complete DIY option, a can of paint and a home-made stencil can have a dramatic effect, or, fill your pumpkin with seasonal flowers and foliage from the garden.
Candles either inside of your pumpkin or scattered around look great, but if you’re worried about the fire risks you can use fake tea-lights, or use fairy lights and weave in and around the pumpkins to give a lovely atmospheric look.