Four 18-wheelers turn off Garland Road and enter the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden at sunrise. A fleet of forklifts and horticulturists feverishly offload their cargo in the Pecan Grove. Dozens of cardboard crates are everywhere, bursting with 90,000 pumpkins and gourds.
It will take a team of 40 horticulturalists and volunteers two weeks to unload and organize them for Autumn at the Arboretum, which runs through Nov. 21. This year’s theme for the Pumpkin Village is “Adventures in Neverland,” complete with ships, a treasure chest and a plank.
“Everything used to be themed around pumpkins, and now it’s what you can build with pumpkins,” says Jennifer Wang, Arboretum horticulture manager. “You start to run out of stories that have pumpkins in them.”
Expects Captain Hook and Tinker Bell sightings.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Wang says. “But as soon as we’re done, we all stand back, and we’re amazed at how wonderful it turns out.”
When the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden needs 90,000 pumpkins pronto, who you gonna call? The Pumpkin Pyle of Floydada, north of Lubbock.
The family farm has been supplying the Arboretum for eight years. This three-generation enterprise started growing pumpkins in 1991, when Louis Pyle gave his 16-year-old grandson Jason 10 acres of land. “Paw-Paw” asked him what he wanted to grow, and Jason said pumpkins. That year the teen, parents Paula and Robert Pyle, and grandfather Louis raised 10 acres of pumpkins each. They started selling them off the road in front of their home.
Now the family has 660 acres, employs about 150 workers and loads between 15 to 20 semi-trucks a day during the season. The family mainly sells pumpkins in Texas and Oklahoma, but they also send trucks to Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
“It’s been a really good supplement to our farming,” Paula says. The family’s main crop is cotton.
Paula and daughter-in-law Lindsey take orders and run the office. The most popular pumpkins, she says, are the Jack-o-Lantern, the minis and the pie pumpkins. After that they receive the most orders for the Crystal Star, a large white pumpkin, the Fairytale, which is green and turns buckskin, and the Cinderella.
Her favorite pie? Pumpkin, of course. She says the best pumpkin to cook with is the Cheddar variety. Unusued pumpkins are good for fertilizer and cows.
Their website is done by the Pyles’ son-in-law, a software engineer. “We try to keep it in the family,” Paula says. “I pay him in babysitting.”
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