I remember as a kid being so excited about getting our pumpkin and carving the jack-o'-lantern face as early in the season as possible. However, by the time Halloween arrived, the pumpkin would be truly scary, hosting a variety of gnats, or exhibiting signs of mold. Sometimes the pumpkin would even begin to deflate, like a sad beach ball.
Now when we visit the pumpkin patch, we save the carving for a day or two before Halloween. The pumpkins make great accents tucked around containers of mums and asters. You can create a layered look by using hay bales, as in this picture, or stack the pumpkins and flowers on your porch steps. If you're into using some of the novelty pumpkins that have warty growths or unusual colors, you may not want to carve them at all!
Photo © Jamie McIntosh