Even Britney Spears agrees: This year’s hottest gift is a puzzle of colorful Rhode Island gourd

A photo by Providence-based Christine Chitnis, snapped at The Farmer’s Daughter, becomes a sensation

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You don’t need a green thumb to be smitten with The Farmer’s Daughter. For the uninitiated, this is no ordinary garden center but a wondrous place outfitted with inspiring displays sure to transform any unsuspecting visitor into a gardenista. Christine Chitnis is a longtime fan. The Providence-based writer and photographer is also the author of four books and a contributor to publications including the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, and Country Living. Each fall, Chitnis makes the 40-minute trek (hey, that’s far in Rhode Island) to visit the South Kingstown destination to marvel at the displays of heirloom pumpkins and gourds.

“I always end up choosing many more pumpkins than my modest front porch can support!” says Chitnis. In September of 2020 she approached owner Sarah Partyka and asked if she could create a large overhead shot of every color, shape, and variety of pumpkin she offered. Partyka agreed.

“As a photographer, I am constantly inspired by nature’s abundant palette and I’d been dreaming of this shot for over a year, ever since my last visit. In my mind, I could see hundreds of pumpkins arranged by color, from the dusky blue green Jarrahdale to the creamy white Casperita, to the mahogany-orange Daybreaks.” Chitnis shares that the resulting photo is one of her favorite shots ever taken over a decades-long career. “As soon as I shared it on Instagram, I could tell it was going to take on a life of its own.”

Sure enough, what followed was a whirlwind as Chitnis’ pumpkin picture raced across social media, reaching millions of viewers. Britney Spears, the queen of pop herself, even reposted the pumpkins to her 35 million followers. As an author, Chitnis has a literary agent that helps her land book deals, and recalls a conversation asking what she thought about licensing the pumpkin photo for a puzzle. This was during the height of the pandemic when puzzles were all the rage and selling out in stores across the country. “I thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity to share my photo with a larger audience,” says Chitnis.

The 1,000-piece Heirloom Pumpkins Puzzle was released by Galison in September 2021, a year after the original photo was taken, and it has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm. “I’ve received lovely feedback from puzzle enthusiasts who share with me that the puzzle is quite challenging! I have yet to attempt it, but I’m carving out some time over the holiday break to give it a shot.”

Find the Heirloom Pumpkins 1,000-piece puzzle at The Farmer’s Daughter, and various local and national retailers. 

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