Succulents have become the hippest plants on the planet. In the last few years, particularly since the most recent California drought, these resilien, and easy to cultivate and care for plants are popping up in more landscapes, spilling out of patio pots and thriving indoors in terrariums and living arrangements.
With their exotic-looking forms and textures, they seem to lend themselves to an endless number of inspired and whimsical uses and creations. It was inevitable that eventually there would be a marriage between echeverias, sedums and crassulas, and that favorite host for fall decor — the pumpkin.
Succulent-topped pumpkins make eye-catching accents in the home that can easily hold their own from Halloween to Thanksgiving. And with a little creativity and new clothes, so to speak, some could remain around until Christmas without looking out of place.
Members of the Windsor Garden Club captured the trend on the upswing, and have for the last few years been creating their own and holding an annual Succulent-Topped Pumpkin Sale as part of the Windsor Farmer’s Market Fall Jamboree.
They will have many to choose from in different sizes for this year’s sale, running 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in the Windsor Town Green. They are also putting together spring bulb planter kits and house plants growing in water, as well as a little bit of this and a bit of that from members’ own gardens.
“We are pretty amazed at the continuing popularity of our succulent-topped pumpkin sale. Every year we have been selling over 100 pumpkins in three hours. They were beautiful, unique and incredibly clever,” said Cindy Fenton, president of the club. “They are the main focus of the sale but we have other interesting items as well.”
They will be selling kits with annuals and bulbs for a long-term show and houseplants like spider plants that are alive in water and glass. Club members will be on hand to show you how to do it your own if you are inspired.
In light of the calamitous wildfires that have laid waste to so much of Sonoma County and displaced thousands of people, club members seriously weighed whether to hold the sale or call it off like so many other local events. But since Windsor itself was spared in a way Santa Rosa and other communities were not, they decided to go ahead in a spirit of community healing. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to fire victim funds.
“We were wondering if people were looking for a little respite and relief right now,” said Letitia Caruso, a three-year member of the club and ad hoc member of the board. “Windsor is in pretty good shape right now and we have been very lucky in that regard.”
The 75-member club is all about community, reflecting changing tastes and trends in gardening. While many garden clubs in the past were social groups organized around a hobby, filled with housewives or retirees enthusiastically tending roses and other ornamentals, the demographics and mission of clubs have shifted to a focus on civic projects.
For Windsor, that has meant helping the Town of Windsor’s department of parks and recreation manage a 72-bed community garden on The Green.
The club is in the eighth year of a 10-year lease for the project, which has gained roots over time, enough to be considered, as one town official said, “holy ground now.”
1 flat-topped pumpkin with a stem that has no soft spots or cuts in it
— Sanitizing wipes
— Spray adhesive craft glue and a face mask
— Sphagnum Moss (aka Green Moss)
— A Lazy Susan
— A mini warm glue gun and vinyl gloves
A chop stick to press the cuttings into place without burning your fingers
— An assortment of succulent cuttings with a variety of colors, shapes and textures including 3 large rosette-type thrillers for a large pumpkin, some branching fillers and trailing spillers.
— Tiny pine cones, fir cones, seed pots, etc. for embellishments.
— A trivet
Cut the stem of the pumpkin down to about half an inch.
Clean the pumpkin with sanitizing wipes or a 10% bleach solution on a damp rag.
When the pumpkin is dry put on the face mask and spray the top of the pumpkin with the spray craft adhesive.
Once the glue is tacky press a ½-inch pancake of green moss firmly onto the pumpkin.
Put the pumpkin on the Lazy Susan and pick out some large cuttings for the focal point.
Leaving a ½-inch stem, apply hot glue to the succulent and attach it firmly to the moss with your chopstick, holding for 3 seconds. If using 1 thriller, place it slightly off center.
Build around your thriller(s), packing the plant material in tightly to prop the larger cutting and to keep the glue from showing as the succulents become less plump as time goes by.
Add acorns, nuts, etc. as desired.
Place in a shaded cool indoor location or in a sheltered outdoor location. Place on a trivet for good air circulation beneath the pumpkin to prevent rotting.
Mist with a spray bottle and set outside occasionally in fresh air to preserve the succulents.
Handle with care, as this is a long-lasting but fragile arrangement.
When you are done with your arrangement plant your succulent cuttings and compost your pumpkin.