The Brassicas

Oct5a 001Our weather has taken a turn towards fall; today’s 47 degree temperature is all the more chilly for the 35 mile an hour winds.  I was so sure I would have my summer flowers into next week. My clients are much more graceful about moving on to the next season than I am-especially those clients with children.  The Halloween holiday-what child isn’t entranced by it?  A request for fall pots came from a client with children  ready to devote the entire month of October to some ghoulishness.

Oct7 002My favorite part of October is that group of leafy plants known as the Brassicas. They come into their own late in the gardening year.  Though there is some disagreement about which plants belong to that group, cabbages, kales, cauliflower, and broccoli are prominent members.  These cool season annuals are great to eat-but I love how they look.  There are many hybrid cabbages and kale that are grown for the beauty of their leaves.  As the weather cools, the color intensifies. 

Oct5a 044I am indebted to the Brassicas for their scale, mass and texture.  Though many plants are tolerant of cold weather – the pansies, certain grasses and so forth-the cabbages and kales can be had of a good size.  Our fall season is short, and not so much actual growing goes on.  I like planting big right off the bat; some years the fall constitutes but a few weeks.  They are not in the least bit fussy about planting depth.  If I need to sink them in a pot for a better look, I do so.

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Some care has to be taken backfilling soil.  Those big leaves so beautiful over the edge of a pot make it necessary to get up under there and pack the soil around the rootballs. The same applies to watering.  Their massive leaves will shed water from the hose.  I water the ground, not the plants. I do like a mix of varieties.  The tall spiky redbor kale is a great contrast to the Peacock series cabbage.  As these plants are almost full-grown, I will add another element, should I need more height. 

Oct5a 046A hazelwood stick covered with grapevine is sunk deep in the soil of the pot. Since wind and rain are more than likely, anchoring any dry materials in a sturdy way is essential.  The pod sticks resembling a tritoma have been constructed from overscaled seeds.  The entire assemby is glued up on the stick, and sealed.  I do make a special effort to find materials like this that can withstand blustery weather. 

Oct5a 047The finished planting is a great scale with a pot this size.  The hazelwood stick repeats the basketweave pattern of the pot, and the light colored seed pod stems make reference to the garden gone to seed. The curvy pods echo the curve of the tall kale leaves.  I like fall pots with all manner of things in them that refer to the natural world. 

Oct5a 049The happy accident of this planting-how great those pale pods repeat the color and texture of the skeleton. 

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The hair on these skulls-you have to believe that people who dream up Halloween ornaments must have fun. The New Guinea impatiens look like they’ve had a fright, do they not?  This landscape is all decked out for a celebration of an October in Michigan.


  1. Beautiful. Thanks for the planting tips.

  2. It sure has been a quick move into fall, hasn’t it. I love what you did with the pots. Just lovely.

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