Immerse yourself in living color


By Michelle McCullough, Lambert Landscape Company

Garden Services Manager


Does your late summer garden have a case of the blahs?  If your landscape looks beaten by the heat, good news.  September is the time to make strategic improvements to capture autumn’s splendor.

There is a dazzling array of color available now for fall.  Planting bold, vibrant seasonal color is just about be one of the best investments you’ll ever make in creating a garden worthy of each and every Kodak moment.

Fabulous Fall Foliage

1)  Plant annuals as soon as the weather cools.  You will begin to see pansies and violas at the local garden centers about the second week of October. Plant when they become available so they can develop a supporting root system to withstand the variables of weather and pests.

2) Nourish and fertilize flowering annuals, such as pansies, with an organic-based 3-1-2 fertilizer every two weeks to maintain continuous bloom. Consider conditioning the soil with regular applications of compost tea to strengthen the health of the root systems.

3) Pansies will hold your garden over into winter. Combine them with other cool weather plants such as snapdragons and dianthus with dusty miller, ornamental cabbages, flowering kale or herbs to add texture and interest.  Use annuals to fill in borders, beds and walkways and reinforce with mums, pumpkins and seasonal decorations.

4)  Flowering plants and showy perennials are your garden’s best accessory. Select plants that vary in bloom type as well as bloom time and complement your other plants. Don’t plant your flowers in perfect rows.  Plant some off center, work in odd-numbered groupings, and offset texture with color.  For a bit of artistry, consider English ivy as a graceful drape to soften the sides of a contained planter.

5)  Plant tulips and bulbs!  When picking from the wide array of tulip colors keep in mind the color of the azaleas that will be blooming at the same time.  Choose your colors strategically to ensure greatest impact. Consider themes of cool blues contrasting with bright pinks and deep violet or a spectrum of gold and red.

Container Gardens

The versatility of container gardens is without equal. Tubs, barrels, pots, half barrels, and cast concrete planters or stone boxes overflowing with flowers and texture add flair and dimension to your garden.  They also serve a practical purpose if your outdoor space is limited to terraces and balconies.  For good root growth, use an organic planting mix especially for containers.

1) Let the style of your home guide your inspiration and choose containers that will complement your home and landscape.  Pick pots and plants that are visually interesting and experiment with bold and unusual combinations of textures.

2) Consider pairing pumpkin with ornamental grasses and mums for a great planting combination.  Because color is concentrated in containers, build plant compositions around a theme.

3) For late fall into the Christmas holidays, try adding branches, twigs, stems, pinecones and winterberries to your containers for dramatic visual effect.

(3) Experiment with temporary decorations by mixing artificial materials, such as lighted sticks, with living materials so that they remain beautiful when the snow falls.

4) Placing tall grasses and greenery with accent perennials in containers can be used as screening device during the winter where the trees have dropped their leaves and privacy is lost.  Place heavy-duty containers on rollers and casters so you can move them around as needed.

5) Think big.  Start out with frost-proof pots, large enough to plant permanent trees or shrubs.  Then plant annuals at the base of these plantings.

Remember.  Plant your permanent plantings in the fall and replace any declining plant material so as not to lose the integrity of the landscape plan.  Use strategic plant combinations to give your garden shape, texture, and interest not only for fall but for every season of the year.

About the author:  Michelle McCullough is a veteran horticulturist and Garden Services Manager at Lambert Landscape Company.  She can be reached at: 214.784.1501


Photo:  Courtesy Lambert Landscape Company © 2014

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