Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

Garden Therapy!  Fall Foliage!

As much as I love spring gardening and giving my yard a fresh start after the cold winter months…there’s just something about fall that really speaks to my soul!

One of the things my husband and I love to do during the fall season is take drives up by the beautiful hillsides and mountains near our home as the autumn leaves start to make their debut!  You can’t help but be inspired to go home and incorporate some of the brilliant colors in your own yard.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

(City Creek Canyon)

“There is a beautiful harmony and colorful luster about autumn!”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Best Plants For Adding Fall Color To Your Yard!

When my husband and I plan what trees and plants to use in our landscaping, our goal is to have it look like we plucked up a little piece of our local mountainside and placed it in our yard.  There’s nothing quite like a good mix of beautiful trees and foliage to help enhance the texture and color of your gardens and flowerbeds.

Autumn tree clip art.Colorful Trees!

One of my very favorite trees is our Autumn Blaze Maple that sits front and center in our yard as you walk out the front door.  This tree has beautiful green leaves in the spring and summer that gradually turn a deep orange-red color come fall.  It has very few seed pods/helicopters typical of maple trees, so it isn’t messy and it’s resistant to bug and insect invasion.  This beautiful tree provides lovely filtered shade and can tolerate a sunny location without the leaves turning brown along the edges from too much sun exposure. 

Autumn Blaze Maple.

A colorful tree for the more shady areas of your yard are Red Japanese Maples.  While their leaves are a pretty reddish green during the spring and summer months, they take on a deep color of marron red when the first chilly air of fall sets in.  We have several of these trees bordering the north side of our patio–their lacy leaves provide the perfect ambience for early fall dinners.

Japanese Maple in fall.

Where I live in Utah, you’ll find pretty Service Berry trees in the local parks and canyons.  They have a little white flower in the spring and pretty yellowish-orange leaves in the fall.  We have the dwarf variety so these trees won’t get too big and are a pretty addition to your yard if you want some added fall color.

Service berry trees.

Leaf clipartShrubs and Vines!

One of the things I probably love most about my yard during the fall season are the fun variety of shrubs and bushes that are intermingled within the various ground covers and lingering flowers that turn pretty shades of red, yellow and orange during September and October.  They make a big statement and are low maintenance…that’s a definite win/win in my book!

One of my very favorite shrubs is the Low-Grow Sumac.  They have healthy green foliage during the regular growing season, but have brilliant fall color in the latter part of September through November.  As the name implies, they don’t grow too tall, but can spread up to 6 feet, so depending on how much space you have, you may want to keep them trimmed back.  These shrubs are native to Utah and need only a minimal amount of watering and are resistant to most plant pests.

Low-grow sumac shrubs.
 The beautiful color of Red Twig Dogwood’s doesn’t come from their leaves, but rather the deep crimson of their branches once the leaves have dropped.  Dogwoods are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves once the nights start getting cold in the fall, but not to worry, the red twigs are gorgeous all on their own.  Definitely a unique novelty shrub that would add some autumn pizzazz to any yard wanting some fall color!

Red-dogwood-GettyImages-124763417-588a56d05f9b5874ee21073c

If you have an unsightly fence or cement wall that needs a little foliage décor, planting a Boston Ivy along the base might be a good solution.  Growing them along a garden trellis or pergola is also a good way to create a little backyard privacy.  In the spring, new leaves of Boston ivy are reddish.  They typically turn green during the summer, before reverting to deep red color in the fall.  These plants are vigorous growers, so prune the vines each year in late winter to keep them in check.  (It’s not recommended, however, to plant Boston ivy near or on your home as they can be quite invasive.)  These plants are very hardy and respond well to pruning, so have no fear.

Boston Ivy.
Grass clipart.Grasses and Ground Cover!

While not particularly colorful in and of themselves, I think any type of ornamental grasses and leafy groundcovers are a great addition to any yard as a neutral backdrop for all the other fall foliage showing off their pretty colors!  Karl Foerster reed grass is probably the most popular of these types of grasses. (It’s named after the legendary German nurseryman, who during WWII hired Jewish friends to tend to his plants.  He also refused Nazi orders to grow only native German plants, he simply grew the plants that thrived with minimal care–the reed grass that now bears his name being one of them.)  It’s wheat-like shafts remind me of late summer weeks spent on our wheat farm when I was younger and the beautiful ripe fields rippling in the wind right before they were harvested.

Forrester ornamental wheat gasses.

When I visited my son this past year in Georgia, I was introduced to the beautiful Pampas grass that he has in his yard–it is a popular ornamental grass in the south, but does well in other regions too.  You can get Pampas grass in a white or pink color and its feathery plumes have such a unique look.  It can get pretty tall, so for most yards, you might want to plant the dwarf variety.

Pampas decorative grass.
Ground covers not only provide beautiful texture and foliage for your flowerbeds, they help prevent weeds from taking over too.  One of my “go-to” groundcover’s is red sedum.  It has pretty scalloped leaves that turn reddish-purple in the fall.

Sedum ground cover.

Fall flower clipart.Fall Flowers!

While most of the flowers in our yards are past their prime as summer stars winding down, there are some that seem to get a second wind and are even re-energized when the cooler fall weather begins!  It’s a good idea as you plan your landscaping to plant a few perennials that bloom in late summer/early fall.  I especially like gazanias for that very reason.  They are pretty during the summer, but add a deep, vibrant color to your flowerbeds when fall arrives.

Fall gazanias.

When it comes to fall flowers…I don’t think there’s any doubt that the ever popular chrysanthemum is a seasonal favorite!  I love the variety of colors they come in and the limitless number of ways you can display them to really get your fall vibes going.  I used to love when I’d visit my daughter while she lived in New York City, how chrysanthemums were often planted around the base of the trees that lined the streets, accompanied by other fall plants, as well as an occasional pumpkin for an added festive flair!

Fall plants.

At a local vintage market, “mums” are displayed in so many unique ways that you can’t help but feel ready for fall after you browse all the quaint shops there.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

(Gardner Village)

Another popular fall flower that keep their dazzling brilliance until the first frosts of winter are Black-eyed Susan’s.  Did you know that you can plant Pansies now for some added touches of fall color in your yard, and since they go dormant during the winter, they’ll bloom again come the first signs of spring!  That’s good bang for your buck, so to speak.  Beautiful Cone Flowers bloom all summer long, but since the weather has cooled off a little, my daughter’s cone flowers have taken on a deeper hue of red.   While technically not a flower, the vibrancy of the leaves on my Coleus are as pretty as any of my flowers this time of year.

Garden Therapy! Fall Foliage!

Something as simple as a fall flower pot or planter placed on your front porch is also a great way to embrace the fall season.  Most garden centers have some that are ready-made or a sell a variety of plants for you to pick from so you can plant one yourself.

Fall flower pots.

My grandkids have found that the best thing to love about fall foliage is to simply go outside and play in it!

I love fall!

While it may be a little sad to say good-bye to all the bright colors and lush greenery of summer…I think the rich, deep tones of autumn makes it a little easier to ease into fall and winter.  Besides after busy summer schedules…there’s a lot to be said for cozy nights, warm blankets, and everything pumpkin spice.

autumn-the-years-last-loveliest-smile

Happiest fall wishes, everyone!

What fall flowers do you love?  Do you have any  fun, fall traditions?

–Wishing you all the best, Mary

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Garden Therapy!  Pretty Flower Pots!

Other than cleaning out some of the leaves and debris that have collected in my yard over the winter months, the weather is still a little too unpredictable, where I live in Utah, to do much planting in my flowerbeds, but it is getting warm enough to plant a few pretty flower pots for my porch and patio…such a fun way to get an early touch of spring color!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

“When beautiful spring comes, and nature resumes her loveliness…the human soul is apt to be revived also!”  Harriet Jacobs  

Simple Steps To Planting Pretty Flower Pots!

As we embark on our venture of planting pretty flower pots–I think most of us have one common thought in mind…!!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

(via Etsy)

While I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes when planting my flower pots, my Grandma Mecham(my mom’s mom) who first nurtured my love of gardening, gave me a few pointers years ago when I used to help plant her pretty flower pots!

♣  Create good drainage.  We know that pots need good drainage so the roots can receive adequate oxygen for good growth.  An easy way to do this is to buy pots that already have a hole in the bottom so that when you water your plants, the water can drain freely and doesn’t stay stagnant around the roots of your plants.  All your plant TLC care will be wasted if your flowers get root rot.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Larger pots require more than one hole.  You can drill your own holes with a large drill bit if your favorite pot doesn’t have any.  My husband taught me that a few layers of masking tape placed on the spot where you want to drill your hole will keep more fragile ceramic pots from cracking.

Creating good drainge for flower pots.

You’ll want to have a drainage saucer underneath your pots if they are placed on a surface you don’t want damaged by water that drains from your pots when you water them.  You can also put a smaller plain pot with plastic or ceramic water catch dish inside a bigger more decorative pot…this is a useful trick for hanging pots.  There’s such a fun variety of decorative flower pots available now at your local garden centers and home improvement stores that come with matching trays.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

If you have a place where you don’t want to run the risk of any water damage, you can add rocks to the bottom of a flower pot to create an internal drainage system of sorts–you will just have to be careful not to over water the plants in these pots.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

My grandma used to break her old, chipped clay pots into small pieces and put them into the bottoms of her new flower pots.

♣  Add special potting soil.  Since ordinary garden soil is too heavy and can introduce disease, be sure to use a bagged planting mix or a homemade equivalent.  My sweet grandma used to make her own potting soil in a large wheel barrel by adding a special concoction of peat moss, sand, garden compost and fertilizer, then she’d enlist my help to get it all mixed up.  If you want to mix your own potting soil, google lists a gazillion websites that will help you do just that.

Making flower pot soil.

While there may be something satisfying about mixing your own soil bend, if you’re at all like me and want to save yourself the time and hassle of figuring out the best dirt composition to help your plants thrive, there are a number of really good ready-made  flower pot soils available at your local garden nurseries.

Miracle Grow potting soil.

I personally like Miracle Grow Potting Mix because it contains moisture control beads that hold excess moisture that is then released as soil dries out, so you’ll have to water less.  It also has a special mixture of fertilizer and nutrients needed for establishing beautiful flowers and plants in your container pots, while helping them resist disease from insects and fungus.  (Miracle Grow also has a soil mix that’s recommended for succulent plants and a fortified mix that’s great as an add-in for the flowerbeds in your yard.) 

♣  Use proper planting techniques.  You’ll want to buy enough plants to fill your container with a couple of inches between them, or you could do one large plant–the root ball should be no larger than about half the size of the pot you’re planning to use to put it in.  I like to buy bigger, more mature plants because they are well established and will bloom quicker.  Depending on where your flower pot will be located, (shade or sun) you’ll want to buy plants that will do well in those areas.  Take the time of year into consideration too.  Flowers like pansies and primrose can withstand cool spring evenings, while plants like geraniums, million bells, and ganzanias, to name a few, thrive in the summer heat.  In addition to planting flowers in your pots, putting in some pretty greenery will give them some unique texture.  Plant experts at neighborhood shops are a great source of information as you plan and shop for your flowers.

pansies-in-flower-pots-11

A quick planting review:  First, decide how you want to arrange your flowers, also pinch off any dead blooms or leaves.  Second, dig holes a few inches deeper and wider than attached root ball of the plant.  Third, pour a little water that has been mixed with a root starter into each hole before placing a plant in it–this will give a little boost to the flower’s roots so they get a good head start and will bloom quicker. (Since our flower pot season in Utah is relatively short, we’ll take every day of flower blooms we can get!)  Fourth, cover the root ball of each flower with a sufficient amount of potting soil, (a couple of inches) and put some a little ways up the stem to where the lowest leaves are developed so that the plant is anchored well and the root system isn’t bare to the elements.  As you smooth the dirt around your flowers, keep the level of the soil a few inches below the rim of the pot so the potting soil doesn’t spill over the rim of the pot when you water.  Fifth, once everything is planted, water flowers enough to leave soil moist, (until water barely starts to drip into your flower pot saucer) but not overly wet; watering like this every 2-3 days is key to growing and maintaining pretty flower pots!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Since flower pots do require more frequent watering, some of the nutrients are more likely to be washed away from the plant’s root system, so if you want happy, healthy flowers, use a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks according to package instructions.  I personally like Bayer Advance 2 in 1 Insect Control Plus Fertilizer, it comes in spikes or liquid form for easy use.

♣  General maintenance and upkeep.  Many plants continue to produce new flowers if you remove spent blooms.  Pinch off dead flowers (deadhead) just above a leaf or bud.  When plants begin to look wilted and past their prime, pull them out carefully and replace them with new ones; doing this also makes it so you can easily transition from one season to another and keep your flower pots looking fresh and lush.  As you water, you may need to add a new layer of potting soil or mulch to your container pots to keep the root systems covered well.  As already mentioned, fertilize pots regularly with a bloom boost.  Guard against common flower pests such as aphids, spider mite and mealy bugs by spraying every few weeks with an organic pest control.  I use Bonide Eight Insect and Disease Control Spray because it treats any fungus disease plants may get as well.

Maintaining spring flower pots.

Pretty spring flower pots in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment, get creative, and express your unique personality when you plant your pretty flower pots!

Little Things Mean A Lot! www.mytributejournal.com

“For children, most importantly, being in a flower garden is something magical!”  Fritjof Capra

Happiness is where I planted it!Flowering houseplants www.mytributejournal.com

“When you plant flowers…you decorate your soul!”  Luther Burbank

You can check out other simple spring gardening tips here.  I’ve also got some fun ideas for planting a fairy garden here.

I’m curious to know what flowers you have planted in container pots that are low maintenance and bloom beautifully?

–Happy planting!  Love, Mary

Garden Therapy! Colorful Shade Plants!

Garden Therapy!  Colorful Shade Plants!

So far, spring in Utah where I live hasn’t consisted of too many sunny days…but thank goodness the sun does eventually shine!  Meanwhile, I’ve been wandering our local garden centers in anticipation of getting out in my flowerbeds again.  Usually, my focus is on good hardy plants that will survive and thrive in the heat of the summer sun, but since the trees are maturing and getting bigger in my yard, I’ve been doing a little research on fun, colorful plants that do good in shady areas.

Colorful Shade Plants!

Well-Known Shade Plants!

  • Impatiens

Probably one of the most recognizable and popular colorful shade plants is Impatiens; they are fairly hardy plants and require little care other than moderate watering and some insect and slug control, since snails love their delicate petals and aphids breed well in shady areas.

Colorful Shade plants--impatiens.

Impatiens are pretty annual flowers that come in a variety of colors and bloom all summer long.  They usually grow about 8-10 inches tall.  I like to plant a combination of all the bright colors in some of my shady flower beds.

Slug and pest control for flowers.

I’ve found sprinkling Corry’s slug bait in the mulch around my plants works best to protect them against snails, and that Bayer Flower Insect Spry does a great job of protecting flowers from a variety of insects–it’s also animal safe.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with many of the more well-known shade plants, typically planted in the north facing areas of our yards.  Growing up, we had a large side yard that faced north where several pine trees grew; it was a favorite place to play with neighborhood friends during the summer, since it didn’t get the heat of the midday sun.  My mom grew rhubarb plants along the fence and planted what seemed like hundreds of colorful Impatiens under the pine trees.   

Impatient: Colorful shade flowers.

Impatiens will do well in rocky and clay soil if you just add some sand and mulch to your dirt for the best flowering results.  Since decorative, cement curbing wasn’t available back then, my parents often lined rocks around their flowers beds–I love the natural look and have used some in parts of my yard.

  • Coleus    

One of my very favorite shade plants is coleus; the variety and colors of these lush, leafy plants seems to be endless.  Coleus are a great filler to any flowerbed, but also gorgeous all on their own!

Coleus plants.

Coleus provide stunning color to any shade area.  Most varieties grow 16-18 inches tall, but you can pinch them back so the plants grow out more full.  

Photo (105)

Colorful shade plants for container pots.

Impatiens and coleus are perfect for porch planters where there’s no direct sun! 

  • Pansies and Violas

These pretty, lacy-edged flowers were a favorite of both my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  They’re usually the first flowers you’ll see blooming in all their pretty color combinations come springtime.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

While pansies and violas tend to thrive in the cooler, early spring sun, I’ve found that they don’t like the heat of the hotter summer sun unless planted in shady areas that only allows for some indirect sunlight to shine on them.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

If you’ll pinch off the old, wilted blooms on your pansy and viola flowers, it will help generate new ones much quicker.  They require regular watering too.

Other Colorful Shade Plants!

  • Lamium 

Lamium, better known to me as purple dragon, is a pretty perennial flowering ground cover that blooms most of the summer.  I love the variegation of the silvery green color of the leaves along with the unique flower shape.  (There’s a white flower variety too.) 

Colorful shade flowers-lamium.

I like to mix Lamium in with other kinds of ground cover under the big maple trees in my back yard for some fun added color and texture.  

  •  Astilbe

When I was first in search of some long lasting, blooming shade perennial flowers, a cute gal at our nearby garden center introduced me to Astilbe flowers–my granddaughters knowingly refer to them as feather duster plants–since that is exactly what they look like!  (Your yard will thank you in lush plants if you become good friends with your local plant ladies…and guys–seriously, such fun people and they all love what they do!)    

astilbe-bloom

Astilbe flowers can tolerate some indirect sunlight, but do best when planted in mostly shady areas.  They also like soil that stays pretty moist, so you will want to keep the slug bait and sprinkle some around them every other week.  Even when their blooms fade, they have a neat rustic look to them.   

  • Hydrangeas

I was always fascinated with the ever-changing color hues of the hydrangea bushes my grandmother grew in her beautiful gardens, and to this day the smell of them reminds me of the blooms she’d clip and put in fun vases throughout her house.  For some reason though, I didn’t think I had the “green thumb” so to speak, to keep any growing in my own yard…but come to find out, they are really very easy to grow as long as you plant them in more shady flowerbeds that don’t get hot afternoon sun and fertilize them regularly.

Colorful Shande flowers-hydrandeas

I usually plant the “Endless Summer” variety of Hydrangea bushes because, as the name indicates, they bloom all summer long.  I love how the blossoms fade from bright pink to a pale bluish hue as they mature.  Hydrangeas like mulch rich, moist soil.  Plant Hydrangeas where there is room to grow since they will get about 3-5 feet high.  I treat them with Bayer pest spray once a month. 

Easy to grow Endless Summer hydrangeas.

I love to plant Hydrangea bushes in large ceramic pots in my flower beds too; just water every other day and make sure there’s good drainage.

My grandma was such a neat influence in my life.  As a child, I loved working together in her flowerbeds; those memories are some of the main reasons I look forward to getting out in my own yard this time of year–she often told me that…

Quote about spring.

Whatever you like to do to renew your spirit this special springtime of year…I  hope you find it in abundance!

What are some colorful shade plants you love to plant in your yard?  Do you have any handy yard care tips that you’d share with us here?

–Mary