Create a Halloween garden and treat your neighbours!

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 30 October 2016.

Halloween on 31st October is ‘All Hallows Eve’, the day before All Saints Day, when the dead, martyrs and saints are remembered. The traditions we associate with Halloween began in Celtic harvest festivals and have become closely linked with more recent games and treats. Apple bobbing, making a pumpkin lantern for our door step and dressing up as a ghost or a witch was about as far as it went when I was young. In other parts of Britain ‘trick or treating’ was the norm, but with different names and a strong history going back to the sixteenth century when children in costume went house to house singing for the dead and asking for special Halloween foods such as ‘soul cakes’.

Halloween garden
Halloween ‘guisers’, the precursors of ‘trick or treaters’. Baltasound, Shetland. Mike Pennington, licensed for re-use under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0

Make a Halloween garden

In America, decorating houses and gardens is common. This year my Halloween garden aims to scare the neighbours! Pinterest is the place to look for ideas and action – and this outdoor Halloween board has given me wonderful quick and easy (and more complicated) ideas to frighten family and neighbours! Luminous eyes on trees, foam cut outs of bats on the garden shed, and – best of all – a ghost (made from an old grey curtain) sitting on my favourite garden seat to welcome the neighbours when they come round to party. What will you do?

Halloween lanterns on your patio

Jam jar Halloween lanterns light up a patio party. Hanging from trees or standing along paths, they add to the look of a Halloween garden. Easy to make and ideal for children to create on a wet afternoon, these instructions from ARGOS are simple enough for me to follow.

Carved or decorated  pumpkins, marrows or squash. Why not all three for your porch?

Carved or decorated pumpkins, swedes, marrows and root beets are for me THE Halloween look, perhaps because these are such great autumn produce and look so beautiful painted or carved, and just as they are. Mine always sits on the porch, but this year I will spread a few more in my Halloween garden – a giant marrow decorated as a glowing snake will peer out of the veg patch while pumpkin faces will glow in the greenhouse……

Halloween garden
Pumpkins at Myddleton House, Christine Matthews. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence share-alike 2.0

These wikiHow instructions for carving a pumpkin lantern will help, if you are not sure where to start or how to end. Use the same approach for root beet, large marrows or squash.

If you carve a large pumpkin or marrow, or a few small ones, you will end up with a lot of pumpkin seeds and flesh on the table. And you can use it all without scaring anyone!

  • Put the seeds on your bird table
  • Put the stringy bits of the flesh in your garden compost heap
  • Cut up the firmer flesh and make soup.

Serve a simple, tasty pumpkin soup!

Cook two finely chopped onions in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft but not browned. Add the pumpkin flesh (about 1kg will make soup for 6) and cook for about 10 minutes. Add 700ml of vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is very soft. Season to taste – perhaps with some paprika to keep the cold away. Blitz with a stick blender or liquidiser and stir in a pot of cream. Serve with parsley and croutons sprinkled over the top.

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