Fall is when tree leaves get to shine and show off, giving flower beds a bit of a break. But the front door and patio can still use a little framing to welcome visitors and boost curb appeal. Here are some ideas for putting together pots and planters without simply defaulting to a bush of yellow or orange chrysanthemums (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I asked Dana Harris-Gonsales, Lead Container Designer with Sunnyside Gardens for advice.
According to Dana, fall container design can be summed up in a basic recipe: mums, cabbages and kales. All are cold weather hardy and come in a range of colors making them perfect for our climate. But don’t stop there, he says. Visit a garden center for inspiration. See what looks good (just as you would at a grocery store) and go from there. Think about your style—traditional, elegant, whimsical, urban, country—then consider:
Decide on a color palette. Monochromatic pots can be beautiful when you choose a variety of hues. Greens can range from bright chartreuse to mellow sage and deep dark evergreen. Orange can be pumpkin bright or nuanced like copper and rust. A cool (blue, silver, purple) or hot (red and orange) palette can also be attractive and harmonious.
Look for plants with a variety of textures. Curly kale, spiky grasses, plump succulents, smooth cabbage leaves. This will make for a more interesting display.
Avoid what Dana calls the “tossed salad” arrangement where everything is leafy and low (think pansies). Easy but fairly dull and not very visible from the street or sidewalk. Another drawback is when that one thing dies, the whole pot is done. Vary the heights of your plants—something tall like an Italian Golden Cyprus or birch poles, a low and trailing plant like Lemon Crow Sedum, and something in the medium range like curly purple kale or Coleus.
Just as you want a mix of plant heights, you also want a variety of shapes such as conical, round, straight, curvy, dense, airy, trailing. A mix will give your planter dimension and depth.
One unique element
Dana recommends choosing one unusual item for your pot. It can be a trellis, orb, pottery, gourd, dried flower or branches. Something to give your pot some wow factor.
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by Laurie Junker
Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Garden and Midwestern Plants