By Beau Spicer


Here we are on the doorsteps of fall. Soon, we will be trading the lake and shorts for football and hoodies. This is truly one of my favorite times of the year, when Mother Nature slowly starts to put herself to sleep for the winter.

Annuals and perennials fade and trees shine in their autumn color. It’s hard not to fall in love with fall.

For gardeners though, it’s the start of an end. Those beds of color that we have worked so hard for all season will soon fade and the cleanup will begin. Containers once full of beauty are going to be emptied and replaced with a single mum in hopes of pulling a few more weeks of color out of the dirt.

The season doesn’t have to end with the last blooms on a chrysanthemum. Utilizing cold tolerant plants, incorporating other materials and making use of unconventional themed containers can expand the fall into a season full of color and texture, squeezing a little more beauty out of Mother Nature.

If you are like most, when you go to plant your fall containers you head straight for the mums and pansies. You know they are reliable and extremely easy. Toss the mum in the container and you are done.

This year, try something new. Plants like snapdragons, petunias and geraniums can hold up in cooler temperatures, up to the first hard freeze. These plants are normally associated with spring and are overlooked in the fall. They offer something a little different than the fall norm: colors that can be hard to find this time of year. In September, garden centers will start carrying a variety of plants that are not normally seen in fall containers, but don’t be scared to try them!

Not everything that goes into a container during the fall has to be a plant. Take a step back and try to think outside the box. Small pumpkins, gourds and squash offer an amazing variety of colors and textures that will add a bit of flair to your container. Instead of planting a container to the gills, leave some space for a few small pumpkins or gourds in groups of two and three. This will give your container an amazing fall theme!

Then there is the container itself. Though just tossing a few plants in the existing containers would be the easiest way to handle the season, you could pick a theme and run with it. Items like old wooden boxes, apple baskets and galvanized containers help pull a great “fall chic” look with little effort. Get creative! Unlike spring, if you want to use container which lacks drainage, simply leave the plants in the plastic containers they came in and dump any extra water out as needed.

Fall is one of those times of year that you either love or dread. For gardeners, it’s usually the latter. To them, fall means an end to another year of having our hands in the dirt. It doesn’t have to be like that. With a little creativity, fall can turn into another season full of happiness and beautiful color.