Big Hairy Balls.
And why you need them.


Hairy Balls


Behold the big hairy ball.  The Pièce de résistance  of my fall flower arrangement.

Part of the reason I love the town I live in and this time of year is the farmer’s market.  I featured it a couple of years ago here on The Art of Doing Stuff.   It’s open throughout the summer and fall and has every delicious ingredient you could imagine.

What it also has is a plethora of fresh flowers.


Hairy Balls Flower


I have made trips to the market without buying a vegetable, but I’ve never left without an armload of flowers.  One of the main reasons is how inexpensive they are, and another is how unusual they are.  The farmer’s market has locally grown flowers that you’d never find anywhere else.  I’ve yet to pass through a high end floral shop that offered me a handful of giant, hairy balls.


Total cost of this arrangement?  $23.  Unless you count the mushrooms.  Then it’s probably closer to $23.50.

Fall Flowers

Crock For Flower Arrangement

Hairy Balls Flower 2

Cutting Stem

Cabbage Arrangement

Fall Flowers 2

Mushrooms In Flower Arrangement

Fall Flower Arrangement 3


And that squash you see in the foreground?  That thing caused quite a commotion.  I asked what variety it was when I bought it, but the girl working at the market wasn’t what you’d call well versed in squash.  She tried though.  She offered up Hubbard as the answer.  Hubbard was not the answer and I knew that.

So I came home and posted that little squash on my website and got every answer from Queensland Blue to Jarrahdale.  As it turns out it’s a hybrid variety of my favourite squash type ever, the Kabocha.  That little blue squash has officially been identified as a Grey Ghost Kabocha.

It’s fairly small and round and as you can see … an incredible blue colour.

So I figured I’d put them side by side.  My giant hair balls living side by side with my blue one.

For Thanksgiving dinner, I did something similar but a little more over the top and a little more colourful.






  1. Doreen says:

    You should pass through the little flower shop I work at in Muskegon MI we have hairy balls in the store right now.. come to think of it we have everything you had in your arrangement for about the same price ( just a little more for us to arrangement it though, for those who don’t like to cut the rubber band ) Just saw your article in the new bhg christmas idea!! loved it!!

  2. Karen Z says:

    Love this arrangement. Just read your article in the Lee Valley newsletter about pumpkins and squash and now I want to plant some. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Tracie says:

    Wow, I love how you arrange flowers, Karen! I’m afraid I’m the type who leaves the elastic around the bouquet because when I cut off, I just stare at them and wonder why they just lay there, all spread out like a bunch of lazy….flowers……&*%$ And mushrooms? Too cute for words….:) Do love those hairy balls though, might try my hand at arranging just once more….

  4. Tammy Rizzo says:

    I love me some big hairy balls. I should take up flower arranging so i can play with them more frequently.

  5. Kim says:

    So Kabocha had a trist with Jarrahdale?

  6. Anna Starner says:

    I found some big hairy balls the other year at a roadside flower stand. Had to buy them and put them in my arrangement. They last forever (almost). Loved them, so glad to know the name of them.

  7. Barbie says:

    I do love those big hairy balls…..and as a florist of sorts I really LOVE them in the flower arrangements you’ve done here. Also loved the Thanksgiving arrangement with cabbage rose type florals in it! Lovely! You’ve got the touch girl!

    • Karen says:

      Those are ornamental cabbages! Green and pink. Beautiful! ~ karen

      • Barbie says:

        Yes, I know. I just loved the way they “look” all cabbage rosy! Like the old Victorian pictures with the cabbage roses! Beautiful! We worked with them sometimes in the industry. I forgot how lovely they are in arrangements!

  8. Looks great, Nice Job! And that’s coming from a former floral designer of 12 years 😉 We loved Hairy Balls! (exactly what we used to call them). May I suggest taping off the top of your container with floral tape? It will give you a lot more control. (I show how to do that here: ) Also, I’ll share with you another politically incorrect flower name. Anthurium, or as we liked to call them, “Penis on a Platter”. 😉
    -Marie Vlasic

    • Grammy says:

      I coworker of mine who was born and grew up in Hawaii told me years ago that they call Anthuriums “Little Boy Plant” on the Islands.

  9. Deb says:

    Nancy Blue Moon~ This year I too grew hairy Balls. The balls are surprisingly soft and not pricky. The plant grows to 4-5 feet tall, gets small white flower clusters which turn into the balls. It’s really pretty cool!

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I have never seen these big hairy balls you speak they blossom and open up?? Are the little spiky hairy things sharp?? I also have a blue pumpkin..And I love farmers markets!!

  11. Miriam says:

    Karen – where is said farmer’s market? Sounds like a great way to dawdle away a Saturday.

  12. Ella says:

    Yet another reason you are far better than Martha Stewart. She never uses big hairy balls.

  13. Edith says:

    I’ve never seen these types of flowers. Absolutely beautiful, and you put them in the perfect container.

  14. Diana says:

    And how did you fix the mushrooms?
    Are they staying fresh as long as the other ingredients?

    Looks very nice… My son would say ENDNICE. Lol

  15. Carolyn says:

    Now these are some big balls… Some times in the fall I go to the park to get walnuts, I see these Big!!!!!!! Green balls on the ground every where. About the size of a base ball and hard as a rock. What are they? And what tree monkey can get their teeth into them, it can’t be a squirrel..

  16. which market do you go to? ottawa street?

  17. Emily says:

    Where else could a person say… big hairy balls ? I love it !

  18. How stunning and original your arrangement is! I grow these God awful mushrooms called stinkhorns. They smell like something died and went to rot hell, but they would go amazingly well with your hairy balls. Hope you google the stinkhorns so you can see why…hehe

  19. Ev says:

    Oh, I hope you and company did a “gobble off”! Favorite part of your Thanksgiving for me! We don’t do it, partly because my sis-in-law would win hands down!

  20. Maureen Locke says:

    What beautiful arrangements Karen. I’m so bad at that kind of stuff, though I do usually have a vase filled with Chinese Lanterns and Silver Dollars courtesy of my sister who’s the real gardener in my family.
    I’ve never seen the ” Family Jewels ” plant before but must try to access it for my sister. Love it.

  21. Susan Dulley says:

    Well, I like the actual photo better than the fuzzy one, at least now I can explain to my friends what that was…ha, ha. I love the arrangement, the colors and the texture mixed into one glorious arrangement. I, on the other hand am somewhat simplistic and would have loved to have an arrangement of just the “Big Hairy Balls”, I love them. I truly miss working in the Gardening Industry when I see such beautiful things and truly wish that I was still there, but, I also work where we have a Floral Shop, so I do not miss out on a lot of things. Anyway, love the arrangement…the creativity and seeing the Crock being put to use. Great Idea! Susan

  22. ericmiami says:

    Great arrangements!
    Any of the winter squashes, and also small pumpkins make fine containers for soup. Just cut the top, scoop out the seeds, pour in some soup, tomato or any kind, float some croutons and cheese, replace the top and bake or grill until the squash is cooked. It makes a spectacular surprise presentation.

  23. Kelly says:

    Yup, the big hairy balls make it! I live in a house with 4 testosterone-ridden fellas and it never before occurred to me they had decorative aspects. thanks. i’ll never be able to look at my guys the same way again.

  24. mia pratt says:

    Great fall displays, they give me inspiration to raid the yard and create a centerpiece just because I can<:} Thanks again…

  25. dana studer says:

    Once again, Karen, you are AWESOME! Its so pretty. After being told my entire life that Im allergic to goldenrod, I cut a huge bunch from the woods & put it in a crock. I did not sneeze once while it was in the house. Fall makes for some gorgeous arrangements.

  26. Valerie says:

    Another beautiful addition to the fall or Thanksgiving bouquet is Physalis Alkekengi or Chinese Lanterns. During the summer months this perennial appears to be a rather mundane, bush like thing. In September the stems on which the greenish flower appeared begin to turn orange, look like miniature chinese lanterns and last for months indoors.

  27. Marti says:

    You like that low hanging fruit, don’t you, Karen? 🙂 Those are some gorgeous displays!
    When is the rest of the Thanksgiving post coming? Menu? Pictures? Table settings? Guests? PIES?

    • Karen says:

      OH! I posted the menu on my Facebook page. There will be a short post on Thanksgiving dinner this Friday. ~ karen!

      • Marti says:

        Oh, it’s just appalling how much of real life I miss by not spending all day and night on Facebook, said no one. Ever.

      • Phyllis Kraemer says:

        I didn’t see it on Facebook…and I …along with Marti have been waiting patiently to see all about it!…I just went to FB to figure out how I missed it…tell me where please…Thanks Karen..BTW, there is a song I hear in my mind every time I walk by those big green balls at market!!

  28. Susan Preston says:

    Family Jewels? Hahaha! They sure look like big hairy balls to me! Love them!

  29. Emilie says:

    Yes! Asclepias physocarpa (“Family Jewels” plant) is one of my favorites!

  30. Laura Bee` says:

    Stunning – I was just cleaning up my garden today & decided to bring in the cauliflower that did nothing but produce nice leaves. Have to find something to go with it – no big hairy balls around here methinks.

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