Gourds: Ideas for Garden Art and More

Gourds are closely related to pumpkins and easy to grow in the garden. Growing gourds is not only easy but fun. They take on many forms and can be dried out and used for nearly any purpose. Gourd art goes back for thousands of years. Gourds were one of the first cultivated plants and were used for many practical purposes. Here are some easy ideas for creating gourdeous garden art and more.

Gourds make excellent birdhouses, providing shelter to a variety of birds-from martins, swallows, wrens, and nuthatches to chickadees, bluebirds, woodpeckers, and screech owls. The type of bird will depend on the size of the gourd, its entrance hole, and its location in the garden. Typically, the bottle-shaped gourds that are 5 to 12 inches in diameter work best for birdhouses. Harvest gourds once the vine has withered, leaving at least an inch of stem attached to each for easy hanging. Hang gourds in a sunny, well-ventilated location to dry over the course of a few weeks. Once they become hard and the seeds rattle inside when shaken, they’re ready to be transformed into beautiful bird sanctuaries. Simply make an entrance hole in the center (depending on bird species) and add some small drainage holes in the bottom. Remove the seeds, wash thoroughly, and allow to dry. Sand smooth and paint, following up with a couple coats of polyurethane. Hang at least six feet from the ground in a sheltered location of the garden.

Gourds aren’t just limited to birdhouses; they make interesting feeders too. And with just the right shape of gourd and some paint, you can easily create stunning garden characters. Fill the garden with these gourdeous creations for all to enjoy. Gourds make charming ornamental features indoors or out. Whimsical music instruments are another possibility, from wind chimes to drums or maracas. Turn your gourds into interesting flowerpots. After they have been hollowed out and thoroughly dried, poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. Fill with potting mix and grow your favorite herbs or flowers. They look especially nice in the fall filled with chrysanthemums and placed on the porch alongside pumpkins.

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Bring the beautiful bounty of your gardening indoors this fall by turning your gourds into unique flower vases. Simply hollow them out and allow to dry. Fill them with water and colorful mums taken from the garden. The gourds can also be decorated with paint to add a splash of personality. For a different approach, hollow out small gourds and use them as candleholders. When you put your imagination into it, gourds can also make lovely decorative centerpieces. The larger ones can be turned into bowls and filled with pinecones, potpourri, or flowers. Small gourds can even make festive-looking Christmas ornaments for the tree. Let the kids help turn ordinary gourds into extraordinary snowmen or Santas simply by adding some paint.

Don’t forget others. Gourds can be transformed into unique baskets, making great gifts for just about anyone. Simply fill them with whatever suits the recipient’s tastes. For instance, add some drainage holes in the bottom of the basket, and it instantly becomes a planter for a fellow gardening enthusiast. Fill it with seed packets or small plants, gloves, a gardening book, etc. The possibilities with gourds are endless.