This time of year, Wolff’s carries over 2,000 mums and a host of classic orange pumpkins from three pounds up to 40 pounds—not to mention heirloom pumpkins in all kinds of unexpected shapes and colors, and a few prizewinner pumpkins that weigh in at about 150 pounds each! Add to that Indian corn, corn shocks, straw, gourds and garden accessories, and you can begin to imagine the array of autumn decor you can find at Wolff’s this time of year.
Where does it all come from? And what are the criteria for selecting the best fall decor? Those are questions I recently asked produce manager Jamie Wolff and plant manager Amy Lang.
Jamie says the pumpkins come from farms in places like Oxford, Kirkwood, Nottingham and White Rock. Amy says the pumpkins are picked the same morning she buys them. These are “Amish guys who put pride into their growing,” she says. “I always want to buy their stuff because they are consistent growers.”
Most of the mums come from three or four local greenhouses, while straw and corn shocks come from other local farmers Wolff’s knows: Pete Flynn and HG Haskell for instance. You may have even enjoyed some of their sweet corn this summer! Our mini-straw bales, perfect for a tabletop display, are also sourced locally.
As Amy and Jamie select fall decor, how do they choose the best?
Amy explains that she always wants to offer customers full, big, rounded mums.
When she selects pumpkins, she starts thinking about how to use them. She likes to get a variety of color: orange, white or blue, for instance. She thinks about which ones would be good for stacking into “pyramid” or “snowman” shapes, and she scouts out good pumpkins for carving.
She also likes to look for pumpkin stems with some character—she likes tall stems, and considers it a bonus if they’re swirly or twisted. (Tempting as these swirly stems might be to pick up, she cautions against using the stem as a “handle” since it can weaken it.)
Throughout the fall, Amy likes to offer customers the same types of pumpkins, mums and other autumn items from week to week. That way, if someone needs to replace a pumpkin or plant later in the season, they will be able to find a replica.
Amy and Jamie both mentioned inspecting pumpkins for scars. Good pumpkin growers take care to prevent damage and scarring to their pumpkins as much as possible. Many farmers create beds of straw so they’re not right against the ground, says Amy.
Good growers also know how to time their crops well, says Amy. It’s tricky to plant at just the right time so the pumpkins will be ready just before Halloween. If they ripen way before Halloween, nobody’s in the mood for fall decorating yet, but if they’re ready too late, people will have started to clear out their fall displays to make way for Christmas.
Whether you’re looking for mini Jack-be-Littles and tiny straw bales for your table top or a 150-pound prize winner to “wow” the neighbors, the decor comes from local sources, carefully selected by someone at Wolff’s–someone you can talk to who can answer any questions you have.
If one of those questions is “How do I make a beautiful autumn display?” be sure to check out Amy Lang’s advice here!