By Irene Virag
Suddenly it’s October. The air turns crisp, daylight lags, pumpkin lattes appear in coffee bars, footballs fill television screens, and fashions move in new directions. It’s time for our fall wardrobes. We pull on wool sweaters and pull out flannel shirts. Socks cover the bare ankles of summer, and slacks replace shorts.
In the garden the switchover is not exactly instantaneous. The annuals of summer stretch out their goodbyes and, if anything you should enjoy the farewell of the dahlias and the poignant curtain calls of the last roses. But one way to bring autumn to your yard and patio right away is to plant—or replant—a pot.
Here’s a container that suits the season:
The chrysanthemums—don’t tell me they’re too common—play a central role by virtue of their iconic status and their color. The burnt-orange flowers sparkle on my patio in the russet light of late afternoon and complement the colorful foliage that defines the season.
Each plant in the arrangement offers its own interpretation of the color theme by strutting its stuff on the seasonal runway in shades of purple, burgundy, bronze, orange, and yellow.
The lacy leaves of Peacock Red kale—it’s ornamental, not edible—add texture and contrast to the chrysanthemums.
And its deep-purple veins echo the pink edges of fountain grass.
The feathery plumes of this annual ornamental grass, Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’, provide height and movement as they sway in the cooling breeze. I love ornamental grasses in general, and Pennisetum— well, it’s high style.
The show continues as velvety, wine-colored pansies play hide-and-seek with Orange Symphony osteospermum—a Cape daisy with blue-violet eyes—while their little cousins, the tricolor Johnny jump-ups, do just that near the front of the container.
This planting is the perfect bridge from late summer to late autumn, standing up to the coming chill and looking lovely even in the waning light. It holds its own till frost. And if you’re lucky, the pansies and Johnny jump-ups may reseed and return again in spring.
Other autumn all-stars can dress up your containers when summer annuals start to fade. The possibilities include border dahlias that are tailor-made for pots; fragrant nemesia; fall-blooming salvias such as Salvia greggii ‘Cherry Queen’; ornamental cabbage; and cold-tolerant diascia—a low-growing relative of the snapdragon.
So don’t be afraid to give your containers a fall makeover. Be a garden fashionista.
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