October Oddities 2018-09-21T14:38:34+00:00


This October, get ready for the weird, wacky, and wonderful. During our October Oddities exhibition Tower Hill will be taken over by bizarre plants, from giant pumpkins to terrifying seedpods, slow down to discover nature’s oddities. Enjoy our indoor plant displays and then head outside to explore our outdoor displays and spot bizarre-looking plant parts on the trails. From Devil’s Claw seedpods in the vegetable garden to prickly cacti in the conservatories, learn about the strangest plants at Tower Hill.

October Oddities is sponsored by 

October Oddities Let’s Get Growing Competition
October 6-8, 2018
Columbus Day Weekend will feature a growing exhibition on October 6th for all ages – professionals, hobbyists, and amateurs alike. Plant in the spring, tend over the summer, and bring us your odd harvest in the fall! Tower Hill will offer prizes in the following categories: Funniest, Oddest, Kid-Grown, Veggie Creations, and Best in Show. All ages are welcome to compete in each category. The Best in Show winner will receive a $100 cash prize, the winner of the Kid-Grown exhibition will receive a $50 cash prize, and each winner of the other three categories will be awarded $20 gift cards for the Garden Shop at Tower Hill.  Entries can include harvested vegetables and fruits, any interesting plant parts, or whole potted plants. Judges will include celebrity judge Roger Swain, in addition to our in-house horticultural experts.

About Roger Swain:
Roger Swain, “the man with the red suspenders”, is recognized by millions as host of The Victory Garden, television’s longest-running gardening show. For fifteen years Roger planted and pruned, harvested and chatted with PBS viewers across the country. Subsequently, he co-hosted People, Places and Plants on HGTV, a show which celebrated New England gardens and gardeners, and featured Roger’s commentary, “Food for Thought.”

Biologist, gardener, writer and storyteller, Roger Swain was born and raised outside Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College, and went on to earn a Ph.D. studying the behavior in ants in tropical rainforests, before becoming Science Editor of Horticulture magazine. Since 1978 readers have been enjoying Roger’s essays and articles, as well as his five books Earthly Pleasures, Field Days, The Practical Gardener, Saving Graces, and Groundwork. When he is not talking with gardeners across the country, Roger can be found at work in the orchard and gardens of his New Hampshire farm.

Roger Swain received the Alice Milton Award for Design from the Worcester County (MA)Horticultural Society in 2012, the American Horticultural Society Award for Writing in 1992, and in 1996 he was awarded the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Gold Medal for his “power to inspire others.”

Where do I get odd plants and/or seeds?
The Garden Shop at Tower Hill is stocked with seeds for plants that produce odd fruits and vegetables. Also, look for odd plants for your garden at our spring Plant Sale. You might also browse your favorite seed catalog or visit your area seed library.

Exhibition Guidelines

Each submission must be labeled with the participant’s Name, Hometown, Plant name (common and Latin), and a brief description of why this entry is “odd.” Entry cards will be available at drop-off. Submissions must be checked in at Tower Hill on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, between the hours of 11am and 5pm, or on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, between 10am and 11:30am. Judging will occur on October 6 at noon. Submissions must be picked up between 3-5pm on Monday, October 8, or Tower Hill will dispose of them. Submissions will be on display indoors at Tower Hill over the weekend.

There are six general parts of plants growers can submit: roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Growers can also submit a whole potted plant. Judging categories will be:

  • Funniest: A plant that looks like a person, face, animal, etc.
  • Kid-Grown: Any gardener under the age of eighteen can submit in this category
  • Veggie Creations: Put together different plants to make an animal or monster
  • Oddest: Could be unusual for the region, an odd shaped vegetable, or a strange seed pod
  • Best in Show: The most impressive submission will be awarded this top prize

Ribbons will be awarded for first, second, and third place in each judging category. First place winners of each category will receive a $20 gift certificate to the Garden Shop at Tower Hill, which will be mailed to them. Best in Show will win a $100 cash prize and the Kid-Grown winner will win a $50 cash prize.

Note: Participants don’t have to pay admission to drop off or pick up their submissions, but must pay admission to re-enter Tower Hill over the weekend.

Top 20 Odd Plants to Grow in New England

  1. Squash, Winter ‘Yokohama’ – (Cucurbita maxima) – A dark blue-green bumpy/warty fruits.
  2. Squash, Patty Pan ‘Striped Green and White Striped – (Cucurbita pepo) Green and white striped and bumpy flattened fruits. Can be eaten as a summer squash or left on plant to mature and be used as a decorative gourd.
  3. Squash, Winter ‘Pink Banana’ – (Cucurbita maxima) – A long 2’x3′ pink skinned squash.
  4. Squash, ‘Tromboncino’ – (Cucurbita moschata) -When grown on trellis forms long straight-necked fruits with bulbus base give a trombone-like silhouette, or if allowed to grow along ground the neck can curl and distort into many interesting shapes.
  5. Gourd ‘Caveman’s Club’, ‘Dinosaur’ – (Lagenaria siceraria) – A knobby/bumpy textured green gourd with a short handle and a rounded club-like blossom end.
  6. Edible Gourd ‘Cuccuzi’/ ‘Snake’ – (Lagenaria siceraria) – Eaten at the 12″-18″ stage these light green skinned fruits can easily get 4′-5′ long or longer.
  7. Luffa Gourd -(Luffa aegyptiaca) – Used as bath sponge when dry.
  8. Love-in-a-Puff – (Cardiospermum halicacabum) – A dainty vine with small white flowers, later producing inflated seed pods containing a seed with a heart shaped spot.
  9. Devil’s Claw – (Proboscidea louisianica) – Large seeds with 2-4 pronged “hook-like” ends.
  10. Sunflower ‘Mongolian Giant’ – (Helianthus annuus) – 10′ tall plants with large 18″+ flower heads and individual seeds 1″long.
  11. Corn ‘Oaxcan Green’ – (Zea mays) Unusual green kernels.
  12. Beans, Dry ‘Tiger Eye’ – (Phaseolus vulgaris) – Dry beans are reddish-tan mottled with cream in interesting patterns.
  13. Yard long Bean ‘Chinese Red Noodle’ – (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis) 24″ long red/burgundy seed pods.
  14. Beans, Dry ‘Ying-yang’ – (Phaseolus vulgaris) Cool beans with yin-yang pattern on black and white dry beans.
  15. Amaranth ‘Dreadlocks’ – (Amaranthus caudatus var. gibbosus) Magenta-pink Pom-pom-like flowers on long drooping stems.
  16. Love-in-a-mist -(Nigella damascena) interesting when dried; inflated balloon-like seed pods)
  17. Bells-of-Ireland – (Moluccella laevis) Unusually shaped green flowers.
  18. Poppy ‘The Giant’ – (Papaver somniferum) Interesting dried seed pods.
  19. Cockscomb celosia – (Celosia argentea var. cristata (Cristata Group) ) – Flowers grow into brain-like shapes.
  20. Snapdragon – (Antirrhinum majus) – Seed pods look like skulls when dry.