Pumpkins in the land of Oz at Dallas Arboretum

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! But the woman in front of the curtain? That’s Diana, my friend and fellow explorer last weekend at the annual Pumpkin Village at Dallas Arboretum. This year the Arboretum carries you off like a tornado to “The Wonderful World of Oz,” with pumpkin houses representing Auntie Em’s house, the Wicked Witch’s castle, the Emerald City, and more.

I’m always amazed at what the festival staff pulls off, and this year’s Oz theme may be the best yet. A yellow brick road spirals through piles of pumpkins — more than 90,000 pumpkins, squash, and gourds are used for the display — toward Auntie Em’s house…

…where a big pumpkin appears to have flattened the Wicked Witch of the East. Her stripe-stockinged legs are all that’s left of her, those famous ruby slippers already on someone else’s feet.

In a “cornfield” of dried stalks, the Scarecrow points the way to the Emerald City.

I half expected him to come to life and start dancing.

In a grove of trees stands the Tin Man, already wearing his ticking heart gift from the Wizard.

The Cowardly Lion, wearing his flowerpot crown and medal of courage, stands nearby.

Little pumpkins strung vertically with twine hang from the trees.

One of those trees isn’t very happy about trespassers! Check out that face…

…and a clenched twig fist, ready to hurl a small pumpkin!

Black sweet potato vine darkens the pumpkin house that belongs to the Wicked Witch of the West.

One of her flying monkeys perches on the roof.

The Emerald City’s pumpkin house is adorned, appropriately, with green sweet potato vine.

Inside each house, murals depict scenes from the story.

Munchkin Land is represented with a white pumpkin house…

…with its own sweet potato vine doorway.

Building materials

A small “lake” of gray and white pumpkins is home to a flock of geese gooseneck gourds. So clever!

The place was, naturally, a madhouse with families picking out pumpkins in the pumpkin patch and taking pictures of their kids. I’m just a big kid myself and delighted in exploring the place. Although I searched, I never did see Dorothy, Toto, or the Wicked Witch and wonder if I missed them or if the Arboretum hires actors to play them or what.

Pumpkins are a theme well beyond the Oz display. We spotted these decorated pumpkins, with push-on features you could purchase in a kit.

So cute!

I love all three of these.

The Arboretum is all about wowing you with masses of annuals and perennials in showy arrangements.

That style of garden is not usually my thing, but the Arboretum does it so well that I always end up enjoying the spectacle.

Yellow marigolds — a cottage garden classic done to perfection here with purple-black castor bean plant and bordered by a row of orange pumpkins.

Artfully piled pumpkins of every color and shape surround large containers overflowing with big tropical leaves and annual color.

So much orange and yellowwww — I love it! Golden rudbeckia and orange mums about to pop are edged with orange pumpkins.

Rudbeckia ‘Sonora’, maybe?

Black sweet potato vine, croton, and millet make a wonderful autumnal combo in this pot, set off by lipstick-pink flowering canna in the background.

Gorgeous cannas

Golden narrowleaf zinnia

An allee of crepe myrtles, their bare lower branches making web-like shadows on the ground, leads to…

…a small plaza with four bronze toads spouting water toward the center.

I’d love to see the garden again in a couple of weeks, when all the Japanese maples turn orange and red. In the foreground is a touchable shrub I’m now wondering if we can grow here in Austin: ‘Franky Boy’ arborvitae.

A ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple offers some early fall color.

Spiderweb catching the light

A curved arbor of sky vine offers a tantalizing glimpse of a stone fountain.

Sky vine blossoms (Thunbergia grandiflora)

I always enjoy this playful sculpture at the base of a formal stair lined with potted boxwoods: Chico y Chica de la Playa (Boy and Girl on the Beach).

Must be a nude beach.

Millet (thriller), marigold (filler), and sweet potato vine (spiller) make a cool combo.

Who knew pumpkins could make so many plants look even better?

And this! Weeping blue atlas cedar with variegated liriope and big, orange pumpkins.

‘Tis the season for pumpkin enjoyment, so if you have a chance to visit Dallas Arboretum this fall, the pumpkin display runs through November 22nd.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in San Antonio on Oct. 14th and Austin on Nov. 4th.

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All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

17 Responses

  1. Ahhhhh! I just said tonight that seeing this display is on my bucket list. Our own Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus Ohio puts on a lovely pumpkin display too, but not nearly the magnitude of this.

  2. They must have an army of volunteers to move and place so many pumpkins. What an amazing sight. One of my favorite themes, OZ. They did it up royally. I have never seen ‘Franky Boy’ as a mature plant. It is magnificent.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I can’t even imagine how many people it takes to make this happen, Lisa. I saw a few workers out there replacing pumpkins during our visit, because aside from installation there’s always maintenance. —Pam

  3. Wonderful display.
    Thanks for the tour.

  4. Thank you for reminding me how awesome the Dallas Arboretum is in autumn! Look like you had fun : )I need to take my grandkids there!

  5. Kris P says:

    Now that’s a pumpkin display! Top marks for creativity for the Dallas Arboretum. I like their giant bronze toads too.

  6. Pat Webster says:

    What imagination! and what skill in combining so many pumpkins in so many different ways. Really spectacular!

  7. rickii says:

    Pumpkin art is normally pretty funky but this is (mostly) quite elegant. I’m forward to my daughter, who has always had a thing for the Wizard of Oz.

  8. OH! What an amazing wonderland!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Wish I could go see it in person, but your blog is the next best thing. :)

  9. […] I’ve been to Dallas and its well-known public garden many times, until last weekend I’d never visited the botanical garden in nearby Fort Worth, […]

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