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New Twists On The Jack-O'-Lantern

This is the time of year when we begin placing pumpkins on doorsteps and in windows. But did you know that not all pumpkins are orange and round?

Garden designer P. Allen Smith stopped by The Saturday Early Show to show us some unusual varieties of pumpkins and provided some new ideas on how to decorate with this favorite symbol of fall.

Smith says you should choose pumpkins and winter squash that are heavy for their size. The shells should be firm with no cracks, bruises or decay, and the color should be bright.

If you want your pumpkin to last through the fall, store or display it in a cool, dry area. It should actually keep for several months if the stem is attached and you have not carved it.

Totem Pole

Smith says a fun twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern is the totem pole. First, choose three pumpkins, small, medium and large. The three should easily stack one on top of the other, so look for pumpkins with somewhat flat bottoms. Then, cut off the tops and scrape out the insides. Smith suggests using an ice-cream scoop and a jar lid for the best results.

Smith says it's fun to give each jack-o'-lantern a different expression. For example, one can be scary, one surprised and one smiling.

You'll need to cut a shaft through the three pumpkins so one light can shine through all three. The size of the smallest pumpkin will determine how big this shaft can be, but try to cut a shaft around four or five inches. Use this as a pattern to cut a hole in the bottom of the middle pumpkin. Anchor the pumpkins together with slender wooden floral stakes. It's easiest to make a hole in the pumpkin with an ice pick first before trying to jam the pick through the tough skin. Set a flashlight or other light source in the bottom pumpkin. You're done!

Pumpkin Container

Smith says the pumpkin is the ultimate fall flower container. Simply cut off the top, clean out the seeds and place a pot or bouquet inside. The project can be as easy or involved as you wish. For a casual look, place a pot of mums inside the pumpkin and set it on your front porch. A more elaborate arrangement of fall flowers and leaves inside the pumpkin makes a beautiful centerpiece inside.

The easiest thing to do is to create a bouquet of fresh flowers, place them in a jar of water, and place this jar inside the pumpkin. But, you can also place dried flowers into floral foam and set this inside.

Any size and any type of pumpkin will work for this project. Smith says he likes to use pumpkins that have grown on their sides, where the stem is on the side of the pumpkin instead of the top. This allows for a wide instead of a deep container and leaves the stem intact.

And finally, if you have a candle inside your jack-o'-lantern, try sprinkling the lid with nutmug and cinnamon. The warmth from the candle will release these aromas.