“My sincere condolences.” A good friend sympathized, and we both laughed. I had just told her that one of our three pumpkins had died and shrivelled in our teeny pumpkin patch. I have to admit, I do talk (and write) about them a lot, so that was the cause of our amusement.

Now there are only two to nurture, but I’m still hoping for further female flowers that might produce more. The bees flit from blooms appearing daily, but the last bunch had male stamens only. On the positive side, the remaining fruits, which are often mistaken for vegetables, seem to be thriving. Nevertheless, I’m watching them avidly. My four-year-old grandson would be sad if they ceased to exist after all his care and attention.

If they failed, replacing them with bought ones would seem an easy solution, but he has a brilliant memory and a good eye for detail. Also, others aren’t for sale in the shops and farms yet and are orange then. Ours are dark green and will remain so until autumn.

There is something quite magical about them, but perhaps that’s because I first became aware of pumpkins as a child when being read the French author Charles Perrault’s enchanting story, Cinderella. There is a German version written by the Brothers Grimm and other renderings from around the world. A pumpkin being bewitched into a spectacular coach, with mice transformed into coachmen to take the beautiful Cinders to and from the ball is quite a tale. No wonder it’s been adapted for theatres and screens as well.

I’m reminded of ‘Fairy Tales And Flowers’, my short story with a Cinderella theme running through it, published in “The People’s Friend” a few years ago. The café was named The Pumpkin Seed, and my inspiration had been a single evening shoe seen at a flower show which ended up being the plot finale.

Well back to our dynamic duo. I check on them first thing every morning and throughout the day as they are growing from a single compost bag and might dry out in the sunny weather. They are a perfect orb shape but need to plump out. With filigree leaves and curly tendrils trailing from the stems they make a pretty picture, but will they be OK for Halloween, three whole months away?

Until next time,
Sue. X