Fernwood debuts Pumpkin House ahead of holiday events

BUCHANAN TOWNSHIP — The National Garden Bureau designated 2019 as the Year of the Pumpkin, and Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve has embraced it ahead of numerous holiday events leading up to winter months.

Follow the path up to Fernwood’s welcome center at 9020, 13988 Range Line Road location in Buchanan Township, and one will see spires of stacked white pumpkins sprouting up from green-brown flora. Once inside, a burst of color comes forth from its gift shop, made by pinecone, gourd, leaf and squirrel-inspired décor.

Then, by stepping into the gardens, past an outdoor room of various gourds, the Pumpkin House comes into a few, a building rooted in red, orange and white vegetables against a verdant backdrop slowly transitioning to ochre.

Director of development and external relations Elaine Rowland said Fernwood’s director Carol Line saw a pumpkin house at another garden and shared the idea with staff, who all loved it.

With financial support from lead sponsor Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and additional support from Whirlpool Foundation, a small team of staff and volunteers planned and constructed the Pumpkin House over a matter of weeks.

The result is a house that from a short distance appears to be made up of floating gourds from local farms. In fact, each gourd is supported by a metal ring by Berrien Metal Products, of Buchanan, attached to a metal house frame. Inside, visitors can get a close look at its roof made of woven grasses.

“It’s been up for almost a week now, and the guests love it,” Rowland said.

The Pumpkin House is on the space where Patrick Dougherty’s Take Five stick sculpture stood. The sculpture was meant to last three years at most before falling apart. — Fernwood’s lasted six.

The change in design comes as Fernwood also has a new lineup of holiday events.

First is Halloween Happening, from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, sponsored by Co-Alliance. By paying $5 per vehicle, attendees can trick-or-treat in full costume, create crafts, make s’mores, drink hot cider, listen to Halloween stories and eat purchased food from Chef Tim Carrigan in Fernwood’s gardens.

Holiday Market will follow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.

“They’re local artisans, crafters, vendors,” Rowland said. “It’s really to get a kickstart on your holiday shopping with unique and handmade items.”

Supporters of Fernwood have the opportunity to have dibs on the 23 vendors’ items from 6 to 8 p.m. the day before. For $40, or $75 per couple, Fernwood members can browse a selection of items while having holiday food and beverages.

Then come events geared toward the upcoming winter season. Wine and Wreaths will occur Nov. 20, 22 and 24 and Dec. 4, 6 and 13. Natural holiday decoration workshops will occur Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 7. Breakfast with Santa occurs Dec. 7, 14 and 21.

Rowland’s favorite event to see as the year ends, however, is a natural one.

“The trees put on a show at Fernwood every fall. It’s so incredible not only to visually see, but to experience. You can’t explain it. You just have to experience it yourself, because fall at Fernwood is not to be missed,” she said.

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