It’s pumpkin time at NorthPark, and this artful landscape is serious business. We’re talking 67,500 pounds of Texas-grown pumpkins, gourds, and squash that arrive in two semi-trucks packed to the brim. That includes 13,000 pounds of giant Big Mac pumpkins.
The fun begins before dawn in mid-September when the landscape team forms a brigade to toss the pumpkins down the line for placement.
“It’s chunkin’ punkin,” laughs longtime NorthPark landscape designer Judy Cunningham.
The fall display also showcases some 15 types of tropical bromeliads in a range of colors. You’ll also see blue agave, 25-year-old barrel cacti, bouquets of dried wheat, and five varieties of sansevieria—the long slick green leaves commonly known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue.
Don’t miss the popular pumpkin patch in CenterPark, itself a quilt of color. You’ll see deep pink and dark red Pentas, coral pink periwinkle, bronze leaf red Begonia, yellow purslane, “New Gold” Lantana, orange Ixora, “Blue My Mind” evolvulus, and Juncus rushes.
“We research color trends,” notes landscape architect William “Billy” Roberts, who works with Cunningham on the design. “I’m always looking around for inspiration. Sometimes we try things on a bigger scale.”
Case in point: the neon yellow and orange plastic ties wrapped around the tall African spear sansevieria around fountain in front of Dillard’s. At first glance the ties look like flowers.
“We’re verging on whether or not we’re getting too close to art,” Cunningham reflects. “We never used to step over that line. But Nancy [Nasher, NorthPark owner] said, ‘Try it,’ so we are experimenting with differing things.”
The fall landscape remains up through October, followed by holiday colors and themes. Spring tulips, hyacinth, and daffodil bulbs go into the ground in fall—all 46,800 of them, explains NorthPark landscape manager Alice Goss.
Cunningham and Roberts plan each landscape a year in advance, selecting masses of plant materials. They work with familiar plants as well as new varieties that they discover at American nurseries and horticultural fairs. The team has introduced many plants to Dallas, and local nurseries often wind up ordering them for customers who saw them first at NorthPark.
“We always try to beat what we did last year and come up with something new and ingenious,” Cunningham says. “I always think it’s like performance art, and the color of the plant material is the paint.”