HANOVER TWP. — Before the Northeastern Pennsylvania landscape becomes a winter wonderland, Dundee Gardens is celebrating fall by turning its location into Pumpkinland.
At 1 p.m. every Saturday in October, the pumpkin paint comes out at the garden’s 2407 San Souci Parkway location. For $10, supplies and pumpkins are provided to participants ages 4 to 10, and their adult-partners, for painting. While demonstrating pumpkin painting, Dundee Gardens Florist Ed Zajac gave pointers on picking the perfect pumpkin.
“Just make sure it’s clean and it has to be very dry. It may have some residue from when it was in the field,” Zajac said. “The first priority is find a pumpkin that’s going to be solid and quality and fresh; the fresher the better.”
According to Zajac, potential pumpkin Picassos should stick to white canvas — colors won’t show up as well on orange pumpkins. As far as paints go, any art paints will do. Zajac used a small selection of acrylic paints to render a vampire onto a white pumpkin, and the Pennsylvania State University art graduate said pumpkin painting is the way to go for long-term seasonal decorating.
“It’s better for the pumpkin and the lifespan of the pumpkin,” Zajac said. “These things you can have around for months. To do a lot of impact, lighting a candle and cutting it out is great, but to do a paint job on it is going to be longer-lasting and you’re probably going to have more control over what you do (and do it) in less time.”
Pumpkin painting is just one of the activities available at Dundee Gardens during Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 1 until Oct. 30. An obstacle course, inflatable maze and a haunted house (painted by Zajac) offer physical fun, while a History of Halloween hayride and story time inside a Native American teepee provides context for the season. According to store co-owner John Zembruski, Pumpkinland’s programming was created with a family-first focus.
“Part of our mission, the reason why we moved here from New Jersey, is to be with our family, get more involved in the community and be totally invested,” Zembruski said. “That’s what we do every weekend (with) our Growing Greener project, the educational component for kids, but Pumpkinland is more of a family-fun event.”
The event includes educational activities, including a hands-on tour of the pumpkins — children will explore the squash inside and out and learn what its different components are for and what it needs to thrive. Dundee Gardens Educational Director Julie Fallon will guide the educational portions of Pumpkinland.
“It pretty much brings to life all of those wonderful elements of autumn and Halloween that we associate with childhood,” said Fallon, who is a certified educator and has a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture.
For more information on Pumpkinland, pumpkin-painting events and take-home materials available at Dundee Gardens, visit DundeeGardens.com or call 570-735-5452.