It's that time of year again! Here are five great ideas to ready your porch or patio 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: 'Marina di Chioggia'
The Plants: Sedums, echeverias, Scotch or Irish mosses
The Big Idea: Easy-care succulents, such as sedums, echeverias, crassulas, and more, are all the rage. To display your faves, punch three holes in the bottom of a boot tray with a hammer and large nail. Fill the tray about three-fourths full with a premoistened mix of 3 parts potting soil and 1 part sand. Position two or three bricks in the center. Plant an assortment of succulents shoulder to shoulder around them. Fill crevices with Scotch or Irish moss, which thrives in well-drained soil in sun or part shade, as do succulents. Top the bricks with pumpkins. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. This display will withstand light freezing temperatures, so it's okay to keep it outdoors.
The Pumpkins: 'Lumina,' 'Moonshine,' 'Jarrahdale'
The Plants: African mask, 'Limelight' hydrangea, 'Purple Majesty' millet, dracaena
The Big Idea: Mild October evenings make it possible to use houseplants such as African mask and dracaena outdoors. These tropicals love our humidity and can handle night temps that stay above 50 degrees. Combine these with 'Purple Majesty' millet (an annual that has seedheads you can dry and use in your November decor) and 'Limelight' hydrangea, which can be transplanted into the garden. The planters used above are Boboli Garden FiberStone Pots by Orlandi Statuary (charliethigpensgardengallery.com). If you can't find white or gray pumpkins locally, try spray paint. We like using Design Master Colortool sprays (dmcolor.com)
Your fall decor is incomplete until you've hung something colorful on the door! Make this seasonal broom badge by grouping
millet, dried hydrangeas, salvia, rose hips, and sorghum.
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.