Design Ideas for Fall Containers and Gardens
American ClassicAt a storefront in Camden, Maine, we found this lovely window box still going strong in late September. Packed with red geraniums, ornamental sweet potato vine, and variegated plectranthus, it proves that summer annuals will look great right through the fall if you keep them watered and fertilized.
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Mainely MumsAcross the state of Maine, chrysanthemums are clearly the number one fall flower. We saw them used everywhere including this handsome sidewalk planter where small button mums float over an ocean of dark blue lobelia. Lobelia loves cool weather and will stay in bloom even after a light frost.
Very VerticalFor a bold statement near an entry or gate, use tall, narrow planters packed with a thriller, filler, and spiller. Here, variegated ornamental grass (the thriller), flowering kale (the filler), and trailing petunia (the spiller) make a terrific combination that sets off an entry perfectly.
Fall FinaleSome flowers just seem to shine brighter during the shorter, cooler days of fall. We found this eye-popping border along the waterfront in Bar Harbor, Maine. In late September it was still in top form with pink geraniums, black and blue salvia, tall decorative white dahlia, snapdragons, and hydrangea.
Living CarpetAnnual flowers aren’t just for spring and summer gardens. Many varieties shine when the temperatures cool and the plants put out waves of new flowers. We couldn’t resist this sparkly little rock garden in Maine carpeted with dusty miller, purple sweet alyssum, white begonia, and marigolds. In frost-free gardens, they’ll bloom through winter.
Colorful FoliageWe love geraniums, especially the zonal types with variegated leaves. That’s why we were delighted to see these easy-care plants still looking their best in late September. Outside a store in Camden, Maine, we found this pretty pair in a faux bois tree stump planter. Geraniums love cool weather and will bloom their heads off until frost ends the show.
Bold CombosLike most tourists we traveled to Maine to eat lobster and see the leaves change color. But, what we hadn’t anticipated were the amazing containers and flower borders that popped up in front of almost every home, hotel, shop, or restaurant. Here, for example, we discovered a tapestry of flowers and foliage in a tiny bed near Acadia National Park. It holds a gorgeous selection of cool-weather annuals such as variegated geranium, calendula, and licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare).
Fall FavoritesWhen it comes to fall color you really can’t do much better than flowering kale and chrysanthemums. These two easy-care plants are especially appealing when they are grown together in a container or border. In Mount Desert, Maine, we found a series of planter boxes where the chrysanthemums were chosen by how well they matched the color of the leafy center of the kale. In this box, for example, the rich pink chrysanthemum and the kale matched perfectly.
Kale or Cabbage?It wasn’t a surprise that we found flowering kale and cabbage everywhere we went in Maine. These cold hardy ornamentals add color and texture to any setting. But did you know they are actually the same plant? Those with frilly leaves are called kale and those with flat rounded leaves are sold as cabbage, but because neither plant forms a solid head, they are all technically kale. This box contains both types mixed with chrysanthemums in an autumnal palette.
Note: Flowering cabbage and flowering kale have been bred for their looks, not their taste. They're not recommended for consumption.