Home GardeningGarden Diary Pumpkin season at the Dallas Arboretum

Pumpkin season at the Dallas Arboretum



October 28, 2023

While in Dallas last week I visited the Dallas Arboretum to see their annual pumpkin extravaganza. The last time I’d seen it was pre-Covid.

Autumn at the Arboretum

I was surprised to find that Autumn at the Arboretum has been relocated from a shady grove near the front of the garden to a sunny space in a far back corner. As in 2019 (the last time I visited), the 2023 theme features the Peanuts gang: “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

There were the usual pumpkin houses…

…and gourd houses. And I spotted a few topiary Peanuts characters…

…and a pumpkin patch for photos. But to be honest, I didn’t think it was as creative and pumpkin-glorious as in years past. I missed the shade of the trees, it felt too sunny and hot, and the pumpkin displays were good but not amazing. The magic wasn’t there. After an extraordinarily hot and droughty summer, maybe there just weren’t enough pumpkins or the energy to go all out? I don’t know.

Main gardens

I took a spin through the Arboretum’s gardens too, of course, stopping to admire bronze tadpoles “swimming” around a little pumpkin near the frog fountains.

Pumpkins and fuchsia mums make a colorful edging along a border of grasses and bananas.

Picnickers enjoying the big lawn and lake views

The waterfall grotto giving Costa Rica vibes

Red Maple Rill

At the Red Maple Rill, the first Japanese maples were turning — or maybe certain trees are red-leaved all year? Late October is early for fall color in Dallas.

The rocky stream

Beautiful color, whether typical or autumnal

I spotted a spider in a web built overhead, catching flies over the path without getting in anyone’s way.

One of the Arboretum’s many little plazas with a fountain

A sculpture of a young couple doing a little crossed-leg pose is one of my favorites at the Arboretum. It’s called Chico y Chica de la Playa, or Beach Boy and Girl.

This one, of a young woman gingerly sticking a toe into the water, unfortunately is lacking the water that gives it meaning.

The Kiss features lovers locked in a passionate embrace amid salvia, canna, and pennisetum.

Native border

Near the Charlie Brown pumpkin display, a native border wows with masses of fall aster in full bloom.

Bees were busy at the flowers, gathering pollen.

American beautyberry and a red salvia make a pretty combo too.

A Woman’s Garden

The geometric planes of A Woman’s Garden always catches my eye. A bronze nude stands within a carved-limestone frame at the edge of a rectangular, edgeless pool, which seems to flow into White Rock Lake.


Her rounded features are echoed in the monumental limestone frame.

Another frame across the pool draws your eye, begging for a living figure to pose there and look this way.

Up next: An exploration of the popular Children’s Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum.

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Digging Deeper

Tour several Austin gardens on Saturday, November 4, on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day tour for Travis County. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and will be available beginning September 1st.

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


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