20 Sept 2010

Gourdness! Giveaway and pumpkin carving

Last year I recall resisting the onset of Autumn and savouring the last days of summer but, this morning, I'm positively excited about the forthcoming Pumpkin Season for I have learned of an exciting competition looming… 

Some of the carved pumpkins featured in the book

A chance conversation yesterday revealed that Fortnum & Mason, renowned London-based purveyors of luxury food hampers and other delightful goodies, are holding their first Pumpkin Carving competition on October 29th.  It's a Friday so, presumably, you can take your pumpkin home to show off on All Hallows Eve. There are fabulous prizes (Fortnum's broomstick anyone? Even better: a £1000 hamper, which would nicely sort out Christmas) and themed food such as witch's hair (aka - of course - candyfloss).

I've just spoken to them and been told that places are limited due to pumpkin display space (as of today 50 spaces still up for grabs), booking is essential but it's free!  Not that I'm competitive or anything ~ahem~ but I'm definitely going!  (It is open to adults as well as 5-18 yrs…)

Pale carved squashes look like porcelain. Find out how in the book.

Now this may all sound jolly frustrating to anyone living out of reach but I know that you're a creative lot and hope you'll be inspired to rise to the spirit of the event in your own communities.  Personally, I'm going to be referring to a book which I bought last year:  Decorating Pumpkins and Gourds written by my York Rise neighbour and fellow gardener, Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell and photographed by her husband, Heini.

Debbie is a phenomenal artist and her ideas in this book veer right away from the usual fare of grinning face pumpkins; she not only shows us beginners (in my case) how to carve designs such as Birds in a Bush, Maids in a Row or the Hansel and Gretal house, but also tells us the correct tools to use.  I absolutely lOvE the lantern pumpkins shown in the above photos.  Her love of gardening shines through when we're taught how to make bird feeders out of squash (an easy project for children) and also which are the best - and easiest - varieties to grow. On a practical level, Debbie advises what to do with different squashes (acorn squashes, for example, are difficult to hollow out but can be carved and displayed before being roasted into a platter of patterned veg). Excellent illustrations and instructions throughout make this all very achievable and, although it's not mentioned, it's best to keep the children's involvement to scooping out the flesh rather than knife wielding!
Cico Books have very kindly offered to send me a copy of Decorating Pumpkins and Gourds as a !giveaway! for my readers.  I'll also ask the author to sign it. Just leave a comment before 15th October (should then give you enough time to get carving before Hallowe'en) and I'll randomly pick a winner.  (Please also say if you don't want the book.)

(All photos in this post are © Cico Books and taken by photographer Heini Schneebeli.)


  1. I love the creativity inspired by gardening and pumpkin carving seems a marvellous example of this. I shall be following the Fortnum and Masons competiton with great interest; although I don't think I am artistic enough to carve my own I look forward to seeing examples, hopefully we will see some photos on this blog!

  2. I wish I was young enough to go to Fortnum and Madons and carve a pumpkin! Instead I'll enjoy carving pumpkins at home with my 2 little ones! I'm looking forward to a bumper crop of pumpkin and squash recipes to use all the lovely pumpkin left over from the carving!

  3. I live too far away to enter the Fornum and Masons competition, but what a great prize they're offering. The book for your giveaway sounds fab and I could certainly use it, I'm not very adventurous when it comes to carving pumpkins.

  4. Hello Caro, so that's why you would 'Borrow' one of my pumpkins if you lived closer ?? thanks for visiting mt blog, I am following yours now as it's great. I actually visited an allotment in Hampstead Heath last year ( or maybe the year before !) in the London's open squares week-end.
    Please enter me for the giveaway competition, I would love a copy of the book.

  5. Thanks so much for the post about the F&M pumkin carving competition! Our family have all now registered to enter, let the carving begin.......

  6. Lovely pumpkin pictures, great ideas for our halloween party this year!

  7. Stunning, I love those and have often been awed at the ability of people to carve pumpkins and gourds like that. I love both of the sets you've pictured on your blog, I'm thinking they would look lovely on my fireplace this autumn!

    Looking forward to seeing pictures of how you get on it in the competition - photos please!

  8. Wow, those carved squashes look fantastic - so special! And how fun that F&M are holding a pumpking carving contest, fingers crossed that your contribution goes down well.

  9. Caro I would love to join in however Cornwall is a little far away for the carving!Would love to try my own carving down here. Hope all is well.Really enjoying all this wholesome stuff!In France at the moment,ha the wonders of the internet!!x

  10. I have my pumpkin - check
    I have 2 excited children - check
    I have the skill to carve - NOPE!

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway! I am pretty hopeless at carving Pumpkins as previous attempts have shown (ha ha) but I do like giving it a go because my children love them. This year we have our very own little pumpkin that we grew ourselves to carve :)

    Good luck with the competiton!

  11. They all look nice, but has anyone ever actually eaten a pumpkin? Or is that heresy?

  12. I'm always loathed to carve mine after the effort I've put into growing them. I want to eat them instead! Good luck with the competition.

  13. I am hoping to benefit from some lovely pumpkin soup after all this pumpkin carving!


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