By Ray Greenstreet
Alexandria, VA – Hello autumn! After our hot summer, much-appreciated cooler temperatures usher in the season of falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and apple cider. Welcome the change of season by swapping out tired summer decorations for fresh autumn colors with wreaths, gourds, garlands, seasonal flowers, hay bales, and corn stalks.
The front door is a great place to start. The simplest – and fastest – way to go full fall is with a seasonal wreath or a bundle of colorful corn. Choose a classic wreath of fall leaves and bunches of berries. Achieve a natural, rustic look with grapevine wreaths simply adorned with seed pods and burlap bows. Drape the door frame with a fall garland to complement the wreath, add a seasonal doormat, and autumn has arrived on your doorstep!
Fall isn’t fall without our favorite gourds. For covered or protected areas, line a wicker or wire basket with a piece of burlap and heap it full of gourds that come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Mix and match or go mono-chromatic. Remember fall is the season of abundance, so pile them in! For a more rustic feel, choose a weathered wood crate or bushel basket.
If you’re cramped for space, think vertical and stack the Jacks! Build a pumpkin topiary with wider pumpkins that have flatter tops and bottoms. Heirloom varieties work best. Stick with classic orange, or choose dark reds, greens, and whites. Start with the largest, then add a medium size, and top off with the smallest. Line the sides of your porch steps with pumpkins, using all the same size for the symmetrical look, or mix it up with different colors and shapes for an informal style.
Got pots? Replace those tired summer annuals with fall favorites: Mums, pansies and ornamental grasses. Get creative with your choice of containers. A rusty wheelbarrow, galvanized metal buckets or tubs, or even that old unused child’s wagon in the corner of your basement or garage all make great containers. Create a fanciful porch pot using the “thrill, fill, and spill” recipe: An ornamental grass with feathery plumes or even a tall ornamental kale for the upright “thrill.” Mums, pansies and shorter, fuller ornamental cabbage are great “fills,” and trailing pansies or ivy for the “spill.” Add seasonal picks of berries or tiny gourds or leafless branches collected from your yard.
Or keep it fast and simple by using potted fall plants as you would summer annuals. You don’t need to repot the plants in the containers. Just place the plants still in their plastic nursery pots into decorative containers. But remember these are living plants and they’ll appreciate regular drinks, especially if they’re sitting in the sun.
Here’s a simple but fun fall project for the kiddos: Plant a pumpkin! Tiny Ironsides or Pumpkin Pie varieties are perfect for a pansy – and for little hands. Prepare your pumpkin pot as you would for a Jack-O-Lantern by cutting off a “lid” and scraping out the innards. Just don’t cut out a face or design on the pumpkin, so that potting soil stays put. Punch a small drainage hole at the bottom, fill with potting soil and plant pansies, mums or ornamental cabbage.
Speaking of Halloween, spook up your fall décor for Trick-or-Treaters by adding “pretend” spiders and their webs to those hay bales or across the wreath. For a more family sensitive look, friendly ghosts and witches on picks are easy to add to flower pots and gardens.
Whatever your taste, there are boundless ways to celebrate the change of season and welcome autumn to your home. Go grab a mug of steaming apple cider, and happy decorating!