How to put on a show in your garden for Halloween

It can be quite a glum time of year in the garden– but it’s easy enough to turn it glam with a little Halloween hocus-pocus, says Emma Townshend.

Tiny witches are one of my favourite things in the whole world. You get that ring on the doorbell, you can see through the glass that your visitors are head-height with the letterbox, and you open up to find them giggling. Because their false noses have gone all wonky.

Halloween can be a glorious fancy-dress moment for the garden, too; at my house, we have fake crime-scene tape, Mexican papier-mâché gargoyles and lanterns to tempt in Haribo seekers of all ages. And that's even before we get started on the pumpkin.

This can be a glum point of the year, as we reach the tipping point of the first frost. I was woken this morning at 5am by the wind blowing – a habitual stress for gardeners. Bits of carefully tied-up climber come down, fences get wobbly, neighbours get testy. But one way to keep in good books is to keep things relatively tidy. Though having only a few sunny hours in which to work, I can fill many council green waste bags with dead stuff.

A nicer alternative is jute leaf sacks – less objectionably plastic than a compost bin, the bags rot down at the same time as the leaves inside. If you have a spot where you could dump a tastefully Keats-esque sack of autumn colour for the year-long decomposition process, have a look on, where they are £1.60 each.

There are scores of berries and hips to cheer us, too. We've had hundreds of tiny apples, glorious touches of colour from rowan, pyracantha and quince, and the most spiders there have ever been at one time on the planet.

An autumn garden is cheered by these additions (although there's been the occasional person weeping about the spiders). Planting a rowan tree might be a step too far just for berries – and in most towns you'll benefit from them as street trees anyway. But Physalis, the Chinese Lantern, comes in many different flavours these days, so you can go for the plain orange lanterns or something more exotic and zingy. The traditional variety is £7.99 from

To find roses with lovely hips, check with the breeder – David Austin recommends R.Rugosa for large, sunset-orange fruit in autumn. This year, our rose display has been so good that I've dug out the wire support for the Christmas wreath and woven an autumn one with pine cones, holly berries and scarlet hips, to hang on the front door along with the skeletons.

Fire is, of course, the final element of the season. It may not be the most ecological way to get rid of the old growth, but it's by far the most symbolic. Samhain was the ancient festival marking the halfway point between the equinox and the winter solstice, and for gardeners and non-gardeners alike, that's worth celebrating. Try a firelog, £13.99 from – a single piece of a dead tree from huge Estonian forests which stands on its end, and will burn with a huge flame for two hours. Enough spooky time for the littlest of witches.

Seasonal joys

Pumpkin farms are increasingly welcoming customers to choose  their own, but Slindon, Hampshire, goes one better: it has its 44th annual pumpkin festival from this weekend until Bonfire Night, with many vintage varieties in shades from orange to violent green.

Take an autumn colour walk: spectacular leaves and seed pods make for a treat at most arboretums. Or make it a bit spooky with the National Trust at Chirk Castle, Wales, spotting ghosts and ghouls among the trees (or indoors if it’s raining). For this and other children’s half-term events, see

It’s mushroom season but you don’t have to walk on the wild side: Tyntesfield in Somerset has fungi  forays guided by an expert on 3 and 17 November. £10,

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own