Pumpkins With Pizzazz

You'll need to stock up on extra candy--trick-or-treaters won't want to leave this enchanting display.
Julie Feagin Sandner

For years, the grinning jack-o'-lantern has graced front porches across the South, heralding fall and Halloween. This year, put a twist on this tradition with stylish topiaries.

The Basics
First, select a container for your topiary. We used urns, but clay pots would work just as well. (Be sure to weigh down the container with rocks or sand so it doesn't tip easily.) Choose a few nice, round pumpkins in graduated sizes. Make sure the largest one will fit snugly in your container.

Creating the Topiary
The center of the topiary should be open so that a single strand of lights can be woven throughout the arrangement. Prepare the base pumpkin as you normally would--cut the top off, and clean out the center; discard the top. Repeat these steps for the center pumpkin, cutting a hole in the bottom so it will rest securely on the base pumpkin. Prepare the top pumpkin by cutting a hole in the bottom only, and then cleaning out the center. It should fit on the center pumpkin.

A Little Power
Using a drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit, make holes in a random pattern over all three pumpkins. We used an apple corer for the larger holes. Once you have enough holes for the lights to shine through, it's time to add the final touches.

Embellishments
Twinkle lights are a safe option for this topiary. Using a 100-count strand of lights, pull the cord through one of the larger holes in the base of the topiary. Spread lights evenly throughout the arrangement as you stack the pumpkins. (Tip: To secure, use florist tape between each layer.) Add a few branches of leaves or vine to the base to finish the arrangement.

"Pumpkins With Pizzazz" is from the October 2003 issue of Southern Living.