Autumn in the English countryside provides a cornucopia of ideas. I was inspired by this container collection, above, at Great Dixter in England a few years ago. This is a September arrangement of potted plants using dahlias, rudbeckias, coreopsis, sedums, and flashes of bold foliage from bananas and cannas. What a dazzling tapestry of color and texture! When it comes to fall plant combos, anything goes.
Tip 1: Group all your pots together into one fantastic fall display. To add height in the back, arrange some pots on pedestals or overturned containers. Late in the season the mature size of your potted plants hide any mismatched containers, giving the illusion of a planted bed.
Tip 2: Use tomato cages to corral your floppy dahlias and daisies, pictured. The newer dahlia varieties have dark-chocolate leaves and are more compact in stature — perfect for showing off their fiery displays of blooms. This combination of late-blooming rudbeckias in the back of the dahlia border provides a beautiful backdrop and more cut flowers to add to autumn bouquets.
Tip 3: Shortcut to a show garden: Cut and display hydrangeas and sedums in potting soil for a combo of rich color, pictured.
I came home from England and found that my own potted plants were looking a bit shabby at the end of summer. I decided to harvest the cut blooms of 'Pee Gee' hydrangeas along with the stiff stems of the perennial sedum 'Autumn Joy' and poke these cut flowers into the potting soil of my front porch containers. This combination of autumn bloomers may not rival the potted plants at Great Dixter, but since all you do is cut and poke, that offers almost instant gratification to perk up a porch.
If you keep the soil moist and the containers out of the hot afternoon sun, cut hydrangeas and sedum blooms will last for weeks. I've even had cut hydrangeas take root in my fall displays.
What beautiful plant marriages do you arrange for the autumn season?