Falling for Fall

Today is last day of August. The MSU Spartans played their opening football game Friday night, tomorrow is Labor Day, and Tuesday Michigan’s public schools are back in session.  

I can’t figure out where the summer went. For one thing, Winter 2014, also known as the 2014 Deep Freeze, so damaged me (and many, many of my fellow Michiganders, I’m sure) that I really don’t think I’ve even thawed out yet. Plus Michigan summers always seem to fly by. And now another summer is over.

 But yet… but yet – I’m kind of getting excited for fall. I do love having college football games on TV (even though I rarely sit down and watch them)… I love seeing the colors change… I love fall fashion. I love putting a big pot of chili on the stove in the morning and letting it simmer, filling the house with delicious smells, all day. I love burning fall scented candles (this one from Yankee Candle is my current favorite). I love hearing the leaves crunch underfoot. I love fall baking. 

Most of all, I love decorating for fall. I’m not one to decorate for every single holiday, but I tend to get pretty into Christmas and fall décor. If budget allowed, I’d go completely overboard but I do have to restrain myself, limiting the fall stuff to the front porch and maybe a bit in the kitchen. 

This year I’m looking forward to also doing a bit of decorating at the lake house. Definitely not too much, but I’m thinking of doing some mums on the front porch (and maybe the deck too), with some cornstalks and pumpkins too. 

This was taken in fall 2011. My porch decor has improved since then, but I like this picture because of the dog squeezing her head between the two of them.

This was taken in fall 2011. My porch decorating skills have improved since then, but I like this picture because of how the dog is squeezing her head between the two of them.

My friend Norma and I discovered the most amazing pumpkin farm, Tomac Pumpkin Patch, not far from our hometown. They grow heirloom tomatoes in gorgeous colors, along with all sorts of crazy gourds. Plus they are very good at displaying their produce and putting together these fabulous stacks of mixed pumpkins, which of course makes you want to buy some so you can duplicate the look at home. I’ve been doing that for several years, and just love the look.

 

pumpkin stack

An example of stacked heirloom pumpkins at Tomac Pumpkin Patch.

Norma with gourd

Norma displaying some of the interesting produce at Tomac Pumpkin Patch.

Then I found this pumpkin stack on Pinterest, with straw layered in between the pumpkins.

pumpkins

I think the straw makes these stacks so much more fun and fall-y! I’m always amazed at how just the littlest touch can elevate something from pretty good to really special. 

I’ve also always been drawn to flowering kale as part of fall décor. I love the dark, textured foliage, and they’re just a bit less predictable than mums. If I have time and can find what I’m looking for, I might do something like this in the flower boxes at the lake house.

basket

I’m not sure where to find bittersweet though, so I will be on a quest to find it somewhere. Can’t wait to get started!

 

 

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Tropical Pots

I love planting these containers. I started doing these a number of years ago when a friend introduced me to Coleus, which I wasn’t familiar with. I had always done beds and and planters with very conventional plants like geraniums and impatiens. But I got kind of hooked on this darker,”urban” look.

best planter

These look great grouped in the planters we found at Costco this spring. They’re huge, heavyweight, and at about $40 apiece, a bargain. We sort of spread them across the upper deck at the lake house and then just let them do their thing. Little tip we got from a local gardening guru: fill the bases of huge pots with packing peanuts! They’re light and do a great job of taking up space in that base that really doesn’t need to be filled with heavy – and expensive – potting soil.

2 planters

I always start with a big anchor plant in the center. In this case, it’s a spiky tropical; Elephant Ears make great anchors too. Then I plant fillers at the base – sweet potato vine, regular ivy, Coleus of course, asparagus fern and spikes if there’s room. The goal is a mix of dark, light and contrasting foliage.

dos planters

We sometimes move these planters inside and try to keep them going through the winter, but I don’t know if that’s possible at the lake house because there really isn’t enough room for these babies. In the meantime, we’re going to keep them outside to remind us of warm, beautiful days for as long as we can.

Hydrangea Love

So these were bursting forth when we got to the lake house for our week-long vacation. I enjoyed them in the yard until our last few days, then cut some of the blossoms for a bouquet. It still looks gorgeous so I think I’m bringing the arrangement home to enjoy before it starts drooping. I love seeing rows of hydrangea plants in bloom, especially at a waterfront home. My goal is to plant a few more before the end of the season.

Hydrangeas

Summer garden

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers, both in the garden and in a bouquet. When we first went through our lake house it was in the middle of the 2014 Deep Freeze and everything was buried in a mountain of snow, so we had no idea what the yard contained. But the wife who lived in the house was an artist and the entire house was decorated beautifully, so I was optimistic that she would have great taste in the garden as well. She did not disappoint! I was still discovering peony plants as recently as two weeks ago. Last weekend most of them were in full bloom, and I snapped a few pictures before cutting some of the blossoms for a bouquet.

peonies1

Peonies2

peonies3

There was one plant that I unfortunately did not get a picture of before its blooms had faded. It was a gorgeous peachy-coral, a color I’ve never seen in a peony before. Just one blossom was still intact so I gave it a place of honor in the middle of the bouquet.

Peony vase

Besides the peonies, we have several hydrangea plants (my other favorite flower), day lilies, lilies of the valley, azaleas, and lots of seagrasses. Maybe others too that I just haven’t identified yet. I’m excited to see the garden bursting forth with other flowers over the course of the summer.