If fall decorating is on your “to-do” list, you might want to widen your horizons beyond the usual pumpkins and mums. Have you ever tried fall pansies or ornamental kale? These plants are more frost-tolerant than mums, so you can enjoy them even after the inevitable fall frost.
Most people plant pansies in spring. Pansies are cold-hardy, so they can be planted before most other spring flowers. What you may have overlooked is how pansies can extend your gardening season in fall. This is even more true of ornamental kale, which really starts to sizzle after the killing frost.
Pansies like cool weather, so any pansies you planted this past spring fizzled out in the summer heat. Now is the time to find some to replace the tired annuals in your planters and flower beds. If you get them started now, they’ll be lush and covered with blooms by Halloween. Pansies shrug off frost and even snow, so they will entertain you well past Thanksgiving.
Ornamental kale can make a dramatic show in places where you need something larger and sturdier than pansies. They combine very well with evergreen shrubs, and make a terrific display around your mailbox or along walks and drives. After the killing frost, when the rest of your flowers have long since faded, the colors of ornamental kale are brighter than ever.
If you’re looking for some fall color for decorating, consider ornamental hot pepper plants. Their fruit is bright red or purple, and they liven up your Halloween arrangements quite nicely. Cockscomb are also very colorful right now. There’s also that classic fall standby, Indian corn. Bunches of these colorful kernels can really brighten up floral displays both indoors and outdoors.
If you stop by our nursery for any of the above-mentioned fall color specialties, you might want to look at adding some permanent fall color to your landscape. In addition to the classic “burning bush”, we have fall-blooming perennials and berry-bearing shrubs that liven up the garden at this time of year. A well planned garden includes plants like turtleheads, a colonizing perennial with perky pink flowers that attract hummingbirds in fall. Sedums are in their glory during September and October, and the sedum family includes both creeping ground covers and mounding shrub-sized clumps of color.
My point: now that cooler weather makes gardening a pleasure again, why not give your garden a fresh shot of color? From cheerful pansies to classic holly bushes, there are lots of choices to make your fall landscape sparkle.
Steve Boehme and his wife Marjorie own GoodSeed Nursery and Landscape, located near Winchester, at 9736 Tri-County Highway. More information is available at www.goodseedfarm.com or call 937-587-7021.
Cold-hardy pansies can add some log-lasting fresh color for fall decorating. (GoodSeed Farm photo)