Garden

12 Landscape Plants That Are Still Pretty In Mid-October

We have had some good-weather days here into October, and it’s so nice to step outside and see some beautiful plants that somehow keep going, even well into the fall. Today was a particularly gorgeous fall day in mid-October, and I had the chance to get outside in our yard to get a closer look at some pretty, long-season landscape plants. I hope this will give you a little inspiration for your own landscape!

Rose “the fairy”
Wild Rose Hips
lamb’s ears
Endless Summer Hydrangea
Mint
Knockout Rose
Japanese Anenome
Dogwood
snapdragon
ornamental kale

Fairy Rose

This delicate- looking but extremely hardy miniature pink landscape rose “The Fairy” starts blooming early in the season and is still going in October.

Wild Rose Hips

We have a big, wild rose bush on our fence row that’s been here since we moved in. My husband has tried to trim it back a few times, but to no avail. It is a pretty plant though with pink to white flowers in June. In October, it has these gorgeous red rose hips and looks fantastic against the white fence.

Lamb’s Ear

Lamb’s ear is a low-growing perennial with gray-green fuzzy leaves. I love to have these around because they look great in flower arrangements, and they edge our patio so I can enjoy them all season long.

Hydrangea

Although some of the blooms are past their prime, many others look like it’s an August day on this hydrangea bush. The variety is Endless Summer, and it’s definitely true to its name!

Mint

Mint is a great plant to grow. You can use it in cooking, and it smells so good! Just be careful to pull up what you don’t want or plant it in a container. This mint plant is still completely green and flowering, even at this time of year.

Knock Out Rose

The hype about knockout roses is all true! I have other traditional roses that I love too, but there’s no beating this one for long season bloom, in my area from May to October.

Japanese Anemone

These pink flowers are so gorgeous, it’s hard to believe they are so hardy! Cold weather does not bother these blooms at all.

Dogwood

Dogwood trees are among the first bloomers, putting on a show when the air is still chilly in the spring. Then, in fall, the leaves change to reddish hues, and each bract produces berries. We have three beautiful trees that are big favorites of the birds.

Snapdragon

I love colorful snapdragons. If you pinch them back, they will bloom all season. They also reseed, so you can easily end up with an established patch.

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale just get better and better as the season goes along. They are terrific in container.

Aster

These blue-purple asters are just so pretty! They have bloomed non-stop for a month. It’s my first year planting them, and I’m hoping they will be back next year.

Aster

Hardy Mums

Mums are often grown as an annual, these rich red colored mums are planted in the garden and come back each year. Nothing says fall like autumn-hued mums!

hardy mums

Have a beautiful day, and happy gardening! 🙂

Cozy at Home · Garden · Home Decor

Five Smart Ways to Extend The Season In Your Outdoor Living Space

For our family, Summer 2020 has become The Year of the Patio. Any socializing we have done, even with family, has been in our outdoor space to minimize the risk of covid infection for our son with Down Syndrome. In a lot of ways, its been a fun year of discovering the birds, plants, and animals that inhabit our backyard and the simple pleasures of the sunshine and fresh air. But now that the season is coming to an end, we, like many others, are wondering how we can maximize our time in our outdoor space and make it more usable into the fall.

Here are a few ways to make your deck, patio, or backyard space more functional in cooler weather so you can continue to get as much use out of it as possible.

  1. Upgrade outdoor lighting.

As the days grow shorter and shorter, I’ve enjoyed all the lighting we have on our patio. We have two sets of vintage-style string lights running along the pergola and amber glass lanterns in the garden and along the house. All this lighting provides enough illumination to comfortably socialize even when night falls. Candle lanterns are a great alternative for portable lighting.

2. Add an outdoor heat feature

Consider adding a source of heat to your outdoor space. This could be extremely simple, like a firepit built from landscape stones, or it could be extremely elaborate, like a whole outdoor fireplace. A nice cozy, warm spot will extend your backyard usability into the autumn months. Right now, we have a small portable firepit that gives us a little extra warmth on a chilly night. A fire table with a seating area would be a terrific addition!

This set is rated five stars on Amazon and comes with the fire table

3. Add comfortable furniture

An outdoor sofa with plenty of space offers lots of options for outdoor enjoyment. This patio features an outdoor coffee table to enjoy a hot beverage and snack or just put your feet up and enjoy nature.

4. Add a great outdoor cooking option

When you have a terrific outdoor cooking area, spending time out in the fresh air into the fall months is a lot more fun. Imagine taking a few steps outside your back door and cooking up something delicious on an outdoor griddle! My young adult kids recently purchased this amazing Cuisinart grill and have been raving about it ever since!

5. Bring out the blankets and pillows

When the weather turns chilly, make sure to have plenty of blankets on hand for outdoor get-togethers. An outdoor storage all-weather wicker storage chest for the patio is a great solution. We always have some wool blankets like this beauty from Pendleton wool around in case the weather suddenly gets cooler.

The weather so far this fall has favored us, and last night we were still cooking and eating outside on the patio at the very end of September. Let’s hope it continues for awhile!

Have a beautiful day and enjoy the nice weather as long as you can! 🙂

DIY Crafts · Garden · Home Decor

5 Simple DIY Ideas for a Cottage Style Fall Porch Featuring Blue and White

My little front porch decked for the fall season

The air swirls briskly and the sunlight shines brightly as I sweep the summer cobwebs off of our little brick front porch today. What a gorgeous day to get ready for a new season! No matter what else is going on, the change in weather puts me in the mood to do something new and creative with our decor.

After a little arranging and re-arranging, our front door is now ready for fall and putting it all together was a wonderful way to spend a few hours. Most of the featured objects on the porch are DIY projects from earlier this month. Please see the end of the post for links to how-tos. 🙂

We have a huge patio in the back of our house, but our front door entrance has a really tiny brick porch. The small entryway offers a unique challenge for adding seasonal decorations. Working on this project, I found that adding varying heights was key to forming a balanced display in this small of a space.

Here are some decorating tips for a small front porch design:

  1. Go vertical with your design elements.

Since there is no space for a wide display, stack your items by placing them at varying heights. Here I have used a large urn as the background tallest element with willow twigs added to the pot for even more height, a thrifted shabby iron plant stand to hold my painted pumpkin, and pots of different sizes.

2. Limit your colors to a few harmonious shades.

In a small space, your design will have more impact and cohesiveness if you choose a harmonious color display. I decided to include shades of purple, plum, and green in my fall display with accents of blue and white.

3. Add unique and personalized touches.

I brought in my love for blue and white ceramics and decor pieces for my porch design. I hand-painted this pumpkin based on chinoiserie patterns and brought other blue and white touches including damask ribbon, other small chinoiserie pumpkins I created, and blue and white containers for plants. I also added cottage elements such as the mission style lanterns and the DIY cement leaves.

4. Add decorative elements to the wall surface or doorframe.

The doorframe itself may give you a spot to add to your seasonal display. This acorn and oak leaf plaque is a subtle and elegant addition to the porch decor. It provides some texture and adds to the autumn theme without overpowering the door wreath.

5. Make the door a focal point.

With a small porch design, the front door is definitely one of the main surfaces you have to work with. Make the most of it by choosing a wreath that fits your color scheme and the overall feel you are going for. I was going for a cozy bungalow shabby vibe, so I used the autumn hue hydrangea wreath I created recently and added a blue and white damask bow to carry through my color scheme.

Bonus tip: have someone keep you company and provide feedback on your work. 🙂

Mr. Bingley the Cavalier King Charles enjoys some fresh air between naps on the sofa.

DIY Projects used for the Porch:

Coppery hypertufa pumpkins post here.

I also made some leaf castings using instructions from this great blog. I painted a couple of them to go with my fall display.

What a super fun project this was, and a wonderful way to welcome in the new season! Now when I go out the front door in the morning and it’s chilly and not summer anymore, I will have some cheerful cottage decor to put a smile on my face. 🙂

Have a beautiful day, and do something creative! 🙂

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Garden

8 Easy Ways to Get Creative With Your Fall Garden

A large mixed fall container and a cozy place to relax.

Finding Creative Ways to keep Your Fall Garden Display Going

Many of us focus on our Summer gardening so much that by the time we get to mid-September, there’s not a lot of interest going on in the landscape. However, there are some super simple solutions and strategies to keep your yard looking pretty right into Autumn! Here are some planting ideas from around our place.

1.
Keep some of your Summer flowers

It may seem obvious, but if you have grown annuals that are cold-tolerant, by all means, keep them! Good examples are snapdragons, pansies, dusy millers, alyssum, dianthus, and African daisy. Even petunias will grow in cool weather. You can move these plants into pots with your fall flowers such as mums or asters for a beautiful display. Here, I have pulled some summer flowers out of a pot with my pink snapdragon and added in an ornamental kale.

2.
Plant Herbs that continue to Add Interest and Usefulness

My patch of oregano is great for seasoning some pasta sauce, but it also looks pretty in the fall with its delicate purple flowers. Many varieties of sage and allium have flowers this time of year as well. If you plant hardy herbs, you can enjoy their beauty and culinary attributes for a long season.

3.Create One Or Two Big Impact Planters with seasonal Blooms

I have a huge wooden barrel planter that is so versatile to use in any season. I chose this planter to be my focal point in the yard and put it next to an Adirondack chair to encourage people to go out and relax, enjoy some autumn sunshine, and a beautiful fall planting. My plants here are mums, ornamental kale, snapdragon, astor, and false sunflower.

The wooden barrel is large enough to display a variety of plants.

4.
Pick Up some Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

While not the first thing you think of for decorative planting, these charming ornamental rosette shaped greens will add depth to your designs and last through the fall. I plant some every year, and I’m in love with the effect.

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage-Gorgeous for fall plantings.

5.
Plant a Display of ornamental Peppers

This year I planted an unexpected combo: a formal urn filled with ornamental peppers and cabbages. I’m really happy with the unique and unexpected look. Ornamental peppers are amazing fall performers. If you’re looking for something creative and out of the mum and aster box, try these peppers! They are gorgeous all throughout the fall season.

6.
Use A Pretty Pot outdoors

Change up your traditional front porch mum and aster display by grabbing a few pretty pots from indoors or from a shop. The colorful pottery will give your display all whole new look and help set the color theme. Here I have taken a gorgeous Show Maker Aster and put it into one of my blue and white china pots.

7.
include some fall Berries in the landscape

This gorgeous tree was here when we move in 25 years ago. I’m so happy that someone planted it! The tree hosts flocks of birds this time of year and is stunningly beautiful. Crabapple, bayberry, firethorn, and chokeberry are great fall choices.

8.
Bring On The Accessories

Doubtless, there will be a multitude of pumpkins and scarecrows this season, but why not try something a little less traditional? Bring out the old wheelbarrow and fill it with flowers. Check out etsy or a vintage store for something old and one-of-a-kind. Find some colorful pillows that make your plantings pop. I added an aged herald angel weathervane to my mums, a decidedly non-traditional look, but I like the character it gives my arrangement.

HAVE A Beautiful day & Happy Planting! 🙂

DIY Crafts · Home Decor

Make A Beautiful Autumn Hued Wreath From Dried Hydrangea

DIY Hydrangea Wreath

Hydrangea is such a beautiful flower! I keep adding more and more of them to my home landscape! Several years ago we traveled to Maine for a family vacation, and I came back inspired to add even more after viewing so many charming New England homes surrounded by the striking shrubs. Now, I have my own supply of hydrangea blossoms that are terrific for preserving and using in crafts. If you have some too, give it a try! The dried flowers can last for a year, so the effort to DIY a pretty wreath or arrangement is definitely worth it!

How TO DRY Hydrangea

I have used two methods for drying hydrangea stems. The first is air drying in bunches and the second is drying in a vase with some water. Either way, you should cut the hydrangea stem with about 8-12 inches of stem and remove the leaves.

For air drying, tie the branches singly or in small bunches and hang them upside down in a dry place, like an attic. For my wreath, I just got a bunch of my dried flowers out of the attic, and they were ready to go.

Another option is to put the flowers in a vase with water halfway up the stems. Simply let the water evaporate and the flowers will be dry. This will take about two weeks or so.

Flowers drying in a vase of water.

Making the Wreath: Step By Step

Supplies Used For Project:

Grapevine Wreath Base

Dried Flowers

Wire

Pink, Purple, Copper, and Green Spray Paint

Many of my flowers were dried from last year and mainly looked golden brown, so I decided to spray paint some of them to get the color tones I wanted. This was very easy. I just spread the flowers out on some cardboard and gave them a fine mist of paint (outdoors for ventilation) to give them some subtle color. I used pink, purple, copper, and green.

You will need a grapevine wreath base for this project. Once your flowers are dry, start at one position on the circle and begin filling in with flowers. The stems of hydrangeas are pretty tough, and if you have long enough stems, you can just weave them through the vine. That’s how I attached a lot of the flowers. They can be secured with florist wire where needed. Just gently wrap some wire around the stem being careful not to break the flower, and use the wire to help hold the flower in place. I had a few flowers that broke off the stems, so I just affixed them with a glue gun. That’s another method that works, too.

Hold your wreath up to see if the fullness is pretty equal all around, and add more flowers where needed. With the materials being natural, it’s never going to be perfect, but that’s what makes your own creation unique.

Twist a loop of wire on the back of the wreath to form a hanger.

That’s all there is to it! What a beautiful and rewarding project! I can’t wait to get everything together for my Fall front door display this year, and see how everything comes together!

HAVE A BEAUTIFUL day, and try something creative! 🙂

DIY Crafts · Home Decor

DIY Fall Decor: Coppery Hypertufa Pumpkin Sculpture

Making Art With Hypertufa

Aren’t outdoor sculptures so striking? The effect of a well-chosen outdoor accent can really add to the beauty and charm of outdoor spaces. I have been wanting to try some concrete projects for years, but I finally decided to give it a try this week. Creating something out of hypertufa, a mix of concrete, perlite, and peat moss, turned out to be a cool project with some pretty nice results. Since this was my first try, I definitely want to play around with it and see what else I can come up with and refine the technique a little. 

For this project, I made a set of coppery pumpkins. They’re a cute little accent and you could use them indoors, on your porch, patio, or front steps.  The fun part is deciding whether to leave them as-is or decorate them!

Supplies:

Portland Cement

Perlite

Peat Moss

Water

Trowel

Rubber bands

Tights or pantyhose

Dust mask

If painting copper-

Spray paint (I used Krylon fusion copper metallic)

For verdigris highlights: acrylic paints in green, gray, and antique gold

  1. Mix the hypertufa

Wear a dust mask. Mix equal parts portland cement, perlite, and peat moss in a large bucket. Gradually add water, possibly up to one equal part. Mix in very slowly so you are controlling the consistency. It should not be crumbly but it cannot be too watery. It should be like a moldable mud texture. 

  1. Cut a section from a leg of pantyhose. To make a larger pumpkin, use a long section and start at the top of the leg. Tie a knot at the bottom of the pantyhose.
  2. Stuff the pantyhose with hypertufa. Really squish it in there and pat it around to make a good pumpkin shape. I made a couple that were too flat when finished because I didn’t stuff in enough hypertufa, so you want to keep filling it in, forming it, and making it rounded as you go. When you have a shape you like, tie another knot. 
  3. Use rubber bands around the whole thing to form indentions like the sections of a pumpkin. Your rubber bands will be like slices of pie or spokes of a wheel. 
  4. Let your pumpkins dry without disturbing them for 4 days.
  5. Cut off the rubber bands and pantyhose, and you’re done!
  6. If you want to, you can decorate the pumpkin. I decided to give mine an aged copper look. I spray painted them with Krylon fusion copper metallic.

For the smaller one, I added some shading for a verdigris effect. I used folk art acrylic paints in dark green and gray, mixed together for various shading, and also added some antique metallic gold. 

I’m going to be trying some more cement projects, so I’ll let you know how they turn out. The possibilities for making your own decorative pieces with this stuff are endless!

Have a beautiful day and try something new and creative! 🙂

Garden

Still Going Strong: 10 Late Season Perennials To Keep Your Garden Blooming Into September

Perennial plants and shrubs provide the backbone of the ornamental garden. By late summer, most of us notice our flower beds starting to look a little worn out, tired, and faded. With some advance planning, you can ensure your garden will still be putting on a brilliant display, even while the air gets cooler and autumn approaches. Here are ten beautiful and hardy perennials that will still be chugging along, even at the beginning of September.

These plants are still looking good in September.
  1. Hydrangea

Hydrangeas provide a striking accent in the garden from mid-summer on. I love hydrangeas and their beautiful and dramatic large bloom clusters. The mid-summer varieties will still be holding blooms in September, though most will be twinged with green by now. I have one blue and pink variety ‘Endless Summer” that is still blooming true to color. The late-blooming paniculata types are still in their prime and provide a great option for end-of-summer blooms. 

2. Black-Eyed Susan

These vibrant yellow, daisy-like flowers start blooming late in the Summer and right through September. Their beautiful, rich fall color makes a gorgeous garden display or arrangement. 

3. Hosta

I love this hosta. The original plant came from my late grandmother’s yard, and has formed a big gorgeous clump of lush foliage at the corner of my shady garden. We enjoy the foliage all season, then late in August, these fantastic, lily-like blooms appear. 

4. Cinnamon Fern

This tall, striking fern looks great in my garden this time of year, even as many of my other ferns have browned in the late Summer months. This focal point just keeps getting better and better as the season goes on. 

5. Knockout Roses

After a huge display early in the year, the knockout roses have continued to produce to a slightly lesser extent throughout the whole growing season. As I look at my garden in September, I still enjoy a large number of these vibrant and prolific rebloomers. 

6. Day Lily

Will the daylilies never quit? Each blossom lasts for only one day, yet they keep going. It’s such a treat to peek into the garden corner and see more of these pretty blooms each day.

7. Butterfly Bush, a tall perennial that appears more like a shrub, produces its best blooms late in the season. With an appearance similar to lilac, this beautiful flower continues to draw in all kinds of butterflies and hummingbirds.

8. Japanese Anemone

Delicate-looking Japanese Anemone or windflower is really just getting started this time of year. I planted a couple of anemones a few years ago and am still surprised when I look at the fence row and see these tall, lovely, long-stemmed beauties making their late-Summer appearance.

9. False Sunflower

This tall, cheerful, easygoing perennial blooms right on into early fall. I am trying these for the first time, and have them in a container with other colorful late-blooming flowers. So far I’m loving the combination.

10. Lamb’s ear

Lamb’s ears are such a fun little plant to grow! With their thick, fuzzy, silvery foliage, they are very on-trend in arrangements and bouquets right now too. I have had them in my garden for years. They are reliable, easy to grow, and provide a long season of garden interest.

I love savoring beautiful garden blooms as long as possible. How about you?

Have an amazing day, and enjoy your garden! 🙂