NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- In all his years in the garden business in New Canaan, Joseph Basone has seen pumpkins grow in popularity with more people using them to decorate around their homes. And he thinks he has an answer as to why it is a growing trend.
"It has caught on more and more through the years. I think it is keeping up with the Jones," Basone said with a laugh. "People see what their neighbors are doing, and they do the same. It's pretty much the way it is in the garden business."
Basone is garden center manager at Geiger's Home & Garden Center at 259 Frogtown Road in New Canaan.
Pumpkins are a rite of fall, especially leading up to Halloween. Teachers will often order pumpkins as a tool in teaching their students, Basone said, and as gifts. However, he said, teachers always want the pumpkins to be as even in size as possible to prevent competition among the children.
According to www.pumpkinnook.com , pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America about 7,000 years ago. A pumpkin is a squash and is a member of the Cucurbita family that includes squash and cucumbers.
It was a staple of the Native American diet. When the first Colonists arrived, they quickly adopted the pumpkin as well and introduced it to Europe. Pumpkins are now grown on every continent except Antarctica, according to the website.
Colonists made an early version of pumpkin pie by hollowing out its shell and filling it with milk, honey and spices and then baking it.
Although colonists used the pumpkin as a food source, most people who purchase pumpkins now do so for decorative purposes, said Mary Jo Bridge Palmer, an owner of Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses at 437 North St. in Greenwich.
"People like to carve them and for for kids to paint them," she said. "They will also put a couple of bigger ones out front."
The ones put out in the front of the property are usually more than 50 pounds to discourage anyone from taking them or picking them up to smash them, she said.
Pumpkins also play an important role in providing color in the landscape, especially after annuals die out and as the weather turns colder, Palmer said. People buy pumpkins and mums to provide a splash of color throughout the month of October, she said.
The pumpkins get their last blast of popularity at the end of the month with Halloween, when people will carve them and often put lights in them so that the designs are seen at night, she said.
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