Fall Plantings

My fall is in full swing; it was cold and blustery all day today.  I come to work sporting at least 3 layers.  My office door at home is open all evening so the corgis can come and go as they please-not tonight.  Too cold.  The leaves are starting to turn color in earnest; the lindens at the shop are so beautiful this time of year, dressed all in that intense citron shade of yellow.

I have written before about how limited a fall plant palette can be.  But in fact, limitations can spark some some imaginative solutions.  There are times when I have so many choices that all the time I spend so much time considering the options makes what I eventually choose looks exhausted-this would be a spring scenario.  These fall pots have the expected yellow and orange pansies, but get their volume from birch twigs and preserved eucalyptus. Not all natural materials have roots, and need water.        

Ornamental cabbage and kale, and pansies are fall staples.  But who wants to look at staples? My farmer’s market has no end of natural materials-the bittersweet and pumpkins in this window box add so much to the cabbage and pansies.  One of my most favorite fall materials-romanesco broccoli.  The lime green florets are of an astonishing configuration; the swirling leaves add a little sass to any staple fare. I have placed these broccoli heads in pots, and used then as finials on fence posts.  What is your idea?   

Broom corn is just that-a plant which when harvested can provide material for brooms.  The fresh stems at market are beautiful and colorful, and you can be assured they will last the entire fall. I am crazy for tuscan kale and ornamental cabbage, but this fountain of broom corn in the center makes the whole arrangement look like a substantial celebration of fall.  

Dusty miller is an underused plant for fall pots.  It regularly survives the winter in my zone.  The silver color is great in the fall-but should you not have access to tall plants, your pots could get a big leg up from some preserved  spiral eucalyptus. Though not one bit hardy in my zone, eucalyptus takes well to preserving, and color.  The dusty miller and pansies in these pots get a big dose of emphasis from a central mass of eucalyptus preserved and dusted with white.     

I have no objection to a fall planting that makes much of the fruits of the harvest, or other natural materials.  My fall season is short, and brusque.  This means that I do not object to materials for fall pots that do not have roots-I actually welcome the diversity they represent. The creeping jenny in these pumpkin pots had beeen there all seaason-I saved  them.  Creating a fall planting from 4 great pumpkins with outstanding stems, and loads of mini pumpkins and gourds was great fun. A container whose surface is planted flat with mixed pansies does not entertain my eye nearly as much as this does.  

Gardeners need some entertainment in the fall.  The closing of the season is not my favorite time.  I am cutting back, cleaning out, and cleaning up. Some fall containers with great color and texture can make the changing of the seasons a little less distressing. 

These antique urns flanking the front door of the shop have not one thing in them with roots. White glazed birch branches and preserved green eucalyptus are a centerpiece for a collection of green and white gourds. This “planting” celebrates the end of the season.  I hate to give air time to my disappointment that the season is changing, and moving towards winter.  I would rather do my best to create a little excitement about the moment.  

Those of you who live in temperate climates-I do not envy you.  I truly like the end of a season as much as I like the beginning.  I like being limited, and challenged. This is part of what is the great fun-should you decide to be a northern gardener.

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