It's that time of year again! Here's a roundup of pumpkin ideas for your front door to help ready your porch for fall.
The Pumpkins: 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes,' 'Red Eye,' 'Long Island Cheese,' 'One Too Many'
The Plants: Kale, cabbages, bay leaves
The Big Idea: Vertical displays make a big statement at the front door. Tucking in cool-weather edibles such as ornamental flowering cabbages, kale, and bay leaves adds a distinctive twist. If you plan to eat the veggies or herbs later, buy plants from the edible aisle at your garden center to make sure they have not been treated with growth hormones to regulate their size. To create topiaries, sandwich bay wreaths between pumpkins stacked in concrete urns, and top with a small pumpkin. Finish your door with a (nonedible) bittersweet wreath. Be careful to dispose of seedheads in the garbage rather than the compost bin, as bittersweet is invasive in the garden. For a similar look, use rose hips, which are more eco-friendly.
The Pumpkins: 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes,' 'Howden,' 'Potimarron,' 'Musquee de Provence,' 'Atlantic Giant,' 'Sugar Pie,' 'Galeux d'Eysines'
The Plants: Mums, Mexican sage, boxwoods
The Big Idea: There's a reason you see mums each fall—they work. Once buds begin to open, you're guaranteed blooms whether your display is in sun or shade. To prolong the show, water when dry and remove spent flowers. While there are numerous salvias to choose from, we love Mexican sage for its statuesque nature and velvety purple flowers. Pair with potted boxwoods. At season's end, transplant salvias to the border, and compost or transplant the mums too. Enjoy the potted boxwoods for several more seasons until they outgrow their containers, and then transplant them into larger pots or into the garden.
The Designer: Heather Barrie, Gathering Floral + Event Design, Charleston, South Carolina; gatheringevents.com
The Challenge: A tiny front stoop
The Solution: Go vertical with garland. Heather started with a nagi garland, which you can buy from a florist, and then wired in coontie palm and holly fern fronds as well as crookneck gourds. Pedestal urns planted with crotons allow room below for pumpkins. This colorful houseplant is ideal for outdoor use where frost comes late (the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South). For an unexpected flourish, set pumpkins atop holly fern fronds and tuck in sprigs of yaupon holly berries.
The Designer: James Cramer, stylist and designer, Keedysville, Maryland
The Challenge: Brighten up an old covered porch
The Solution: Incorporate modern materials to add new energy. Narrow zinc planters filled with both dried and fresh miscanthus foliage make this relatively short door (6 foot 2 inches tall, which was common in the past) appear loftier. Create a container focal point by tucking in pots of 'Wasabi' coleus and chartreuse sweet potato vines. Moonlight-hued pumpkins and gourds amp up the glow.
The Designer: P. Allen Smith, TV host and gardening expert, Little Rock; pallensmith.com
The Challenge: Match the scale of a tall, deep space
The Solution: Layer oversize objects. Wire urns set atop pedestals filled with pie pumpkins are the correct scale for the 8½-foot-tall door at Allen's Moss Mountain Farm home. He repeats elements in trios to create visual interest around the 11-foot-deep porch. Combinations of annuals, potted boxwoods, and heirloom pumpkins organize a lot of materials while achieving balance.