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Ivy and purple fountain grass add wow factor to a fall planting. 

The first day of fall is only 21 days away. After a summer of muggy heat, Japanese beetles feasting on plants and mosquitoes feasting on me, autumn’s arrival will be a relief.

Planting fall containers is a great way to welcome the season. Creating pretty vignettes breathes new life into your landscape, especially when you’re bored with the same old annuals you’ve seen for four months, or you want to liven up your color scheme with yellow, orange, burgundy, bronze, purple and crisp white.

Even if you don’t want to invest in new plants, you can compose a simple fall scene by stacking pumpkins in an urn, or gathering pine cones, squash and gourds into a basket or galvanized container, for example. You may have coleus and sweet potato vines – especially “Jet Black,” “Black Heart” or “Blackie” – that scream fall that can be incorporated into your tableau.

Beyond mums and asters, consider potting heuchera (coral bells) that come in a range of fall tones such as “Caramel,” “Dolce Peach Melba” and nearly black “Black Pearl.” Other plants to consider include celosias, ornamental kales, sunflowers, nemesias, pansies, succulents, ornamental peppers, ivies and ornamental grasses. Although Croton is a house plant, its bright fall colors make it a natural for a protected porch setting.

Incorporate dried seed pods and fluffy, silvery ornamental grass seed heads into displays, along with twigs, strands of dried grapevine, pine cones, ornamental corn and bittersweet. Fill a big lantern with mini pumpkins, hedge apples or windfall apples. One neat look is to nestle a big pumpkin into a pot, nestled on a bed of hydrangea blossoms.

My plans include transplanting a potted hydrangea from a big urn into its permanent home in the garden. Then I’ll refill the pot with a bushel basket-sized bright yellow mum, a blast of color against a backdrop of dried corn stalks bundled and tied with a decorative burlap ribbon. Finally, I’ll cluster a collection of French heirloom pumpkins like the deeply ribbed Musquee de Provence, warty Galeux D’Eysinee and lovely scarlet Rouge viv d’Etampes, along with a soft blue Jarradale heirloom pumpkin and various sizes of white and orange pumpkins arranged on and tucked under the edge of a black bench.

If you’re planting fall containers, stuff them full because the material will be gone after a hard frost. Days are shorter and nights are cooler, so you won’t have to water as often or fertilize at all.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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