Inside The New York Botanical Garden

2012 Pumpkin Update: A Ton of Zombie Goodness

Posted in Programs and Events on October 1 2012, by Matt Newman

Ron Wallace and his heavyweight pumpkin (The Boston Globe, 2012)

It’s October 1, and that means exactly one thing: you can throw the unwritten embargo on Halloween decorations out the window! No more tamping down the urge to buy orange string lights. No more nibbling your nails as you scurry past the candy aisle. Free reign to stake your front yard with frightful scarecrows and tombstones, whether your neighbors scowl or not. And at the NYBG, we get to ramp up our coverage of the season’s holiday excitement! You may not think there’s much to celebrate in a simple gourd, but trust me, there’s nothing simple about a one-ton pumpkin.

Don’t bother with a double-take–that wasn’t a misread. Early predictions from farmers close to the Garden hinted that drought and heat would lead to a disappointing harvest, but pumpkin crops have pulled out a clutch win, with some gigantic gourds already smashing weight records in our neck of the woods. Included is the latest champion, a 2009-pound behemoth out of Rhode Island that took the title for grower Ron Wallace on Friday, September 28, at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts; that’s nearly¬†200 pounds heavier than last year’s winner. But the challenge isn’t settled just yet! Rumor has it there are still a few contenders lurking in the wings, not only in the northeast, but on the west coast and the continent, as well. We could see the record snapped more than once before 2012 crowns its prince of pumpkins.

In the meantime, the Garden is prepping for the heavyweights’ arrival on our doorstep, followed by the peak of Halloween frights on October 20 and 21. On that weekend, master pumpkin carver and friend of the Garden Ray Villafane once again lets his imagination run amok, slicing and dicing the planet’s largest pumpkins into the stuff of nightmares. Last year’s invasion gave us zombified perfection, so it’s tough to imagine the sculptor topping himself in 2012. That is until you see the maquettes and concept art he sent us!

This year, Villafane aims to scare your pants clean off. And this is just his illustration.

Is it just me, or is Ray looking to knock scary sculpture into the stratosphere with this year’s layout? While we wait for the answer to that one, keep an eye out for further updates from the giant pumpkin front, which you can hunt down here if you don’t catch them on Plant Talk. There are at least two weeks left on the weigh-in schedule, meaning a 2009-pound gourd may not hold the throne for long.


The Haunted Pumpkin Garden‘s big event may kick off the weekend of October 20, but the fun starts well before that! Bring your kids between October 6 and 31 to explore the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, wandering through bats, bugs, chilling pumpkin sculptures and plenty of activities to make the most of your Halloween. For more information and event schedules, visit the exhibition page.
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Winning pumpkin image courtesy of The Boston Globe.
Sculpture concept art courtesy of Ray Villafane.