Fall front door decor

Fall is a time of renewal in southern gardens. It’s also a time to change your front door decor. Foliage color changes, cool weather plants like pansies, asters and mums, less intense sun, and cooler mornings make any gardener in a hot climate sigh with relief.

The fall front door decor once it was finally finished.
The fall front door decor once it was finally finished.

When I hired landscaping help several years ago, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the changes in my small, shady front lawn and garden. Enjoy it I do. Tony’s team made the borders wider, giving me more space to place pumpkins, gourds and knobby squash. When the leaves of the Japanese maples and the dogwood begin to turn, it is so beautiful. We’re still in the green foliage stage in September and early October, but it won’t be long now.

Large Mexican urns planted with kale, a red mum, chartreuse creeping Jenny, 'King Tut' papyrus (leftover from summer) and Delta Fire pansies and decorative peppers.
Large Mexican urns planted with kale, a red mum, chartreuse creeping Jenny, ‘King Tut’ papyrus (leftover from summer), Delta Fire pansies and decorative peppers.

Helen Weis of Unique by Design Landscaping and Containers brought me two large Mexican pots last year when she designed several containers and placed them in my garden for a story she did for Fine Gardening magazineI love them so much. This year, I took a Talavera pumpkin she also gave me two autumns ago and placed it right by the front door. You can see it in the two top photos. For night time fun, I added battery operated orange LED lights to all of my jack-o-lanterns. The lights don’t have a timer so I asked Siri to remind me every night at bedtime to turn them off. Amazing what you can do with a cell phone. I raised my large Talavera pumpkin a little with a brick and then piled squash and pumpkins (which are also winter squash) around it.

A Talavera jack-o-lantern at night with orange LED lights looks very spooky. Ha!
Talavera jack-o-lantern at night with orange LED lights looks very spooky. Ha!

I don’t want to give you the idea that I’m some of kind of super landscape designer who figured all of this stuff out and just threw it together. It takes time and a touch of playfulness to discover the right combinations.I went to the Edmond Earth Pumpkin Patch twice–a 36 mile round trip each time, but that’s not all. I moved a lot of pumpkins and pots the last few days. I also planted four flats of pansies and violas, seven large kales and a lot of other plants. I should pull the coleus in the photo above, but I just couldn’t yet even if they do look a bit scraggly. I’m hoping they will stay nice until the mums bloom. One can dream anyway.

Oh, I almost forgot. I’m supposed to tell you the Edmond Earth Pumpkin Patch has several signed copies of my book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff, to sell. So, if you have a birthday boy or girl in need of a present, buy them my book.

I bought most of my pumpkins and bird neck gourds and squash from Sondra who owns that fab pumpkin patch. I also went to Under the Sun on Bryant and 2nd Street in Edmond and bought Delta Mixed Berry Tart pansies. I like all of the Delta pansy series, but this is the first year I’ve grown this mix. I brought home two flats, and I should have made it four. Always double the number of flowers you think you’ll need. Do as I say, not as I do. Otherwise, you’ll be schlepping back to the nursery multiple times.

Delta Mixed Berry Tart pansies in a mixed border. The hardy mums above them will soon bloom.
Delta Mixed Berry Tart pansies in a mixed border. The hardy mums above them will soon bloom.

I also bought several, very large kale plants. Remember that decorative kale looks smaller when planted in ground, and you want it well on its way to maturity before winter hits. It’s smarter just to pay the price and buy the larger plant. Try to find ones that haven’t started to elongate and bolt. In September, Oklahoma had a long, warm dry spell, and I noticed kale in some greenhouses starting to bolt.

Large curly kale with pumpkins and pansies. This  kale will mature to have a large hot pink center. It is 'Kamome Red'. I also love the other frilly kales and 'Redbor' too.
Large curly kale with pumpkins and pansies. This kale will mature to have a large hot pink center. It is ‘Kamome Red’. I also love the other frilly kales and ‘Redbor’ too.
New Talavera pumpkins with Delta Mixed Berry Tart pansies and 'Kingswood Torch' coleus on the left and 'Gnash Rambler' on the right.
New Talavera pumpkins with Delta Mixed Berry Tart pansies and ‘Kingswood Torch’ coleus on the left and ‘Gnash Rambler’ on the right.

I have two new Talavera jack-o-lanterns. I bought one from Edmond Earth Pumpkin Patch on 5th and Broadway. I bought the other, which is actually a ball and can be turned for other seasons, at an OHS function last week. Another note, OHS is having its Oklahoma Garden Tour for Connoisseurs this weekend. I’ll be in the Balaban garden in the morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Delta Fire pansies with red peppers, a red mum and chartreuse creeping Jenny.
Delta Fire pansies with red peppers, a red mum and chartreuse creeping Jenny.

I then made a trip to Guthrie because I didn’t buy enough pansies. Stout Greenhouse is open for fall this year. They also had great pumpkins for good prices. I bought a few pumpkins there. I also bought Delta Fire pansies. They look nothing like the Delta Mixed Berry Tart. In fact, they are practically color opposites as you can see in the photo above.

I have this problem–pansy schizophrenia–that’s what I call it anyway. I always want all the colors, and once I finally decide on a theme, I turn around and buy some that are completely different. It must be all those jeweled colors. I told myself I bought Delta Fire to use them in the pots and nowhere else. Then, I had a few left over that I used in the other bed. So, I bought some small mixed violas in yellow, blue and white to tie the two colors together much as possible. The nice thing about yellow is that it is a good transition color.

Container of crotons and blue pansies with pumpkins stacked up against it. Last year, I planted these same containers with yellow mums. That was pretty too.
Container of crotons and blue pansies with pumpkins stacked up against it. Last year, I planted these same containers with yellow mums. That was pretty too.

You can see where this is going. Another trip to the nursery. All told, I went to three nurseries, a box store for spray paint and Hobby Lobby for dried grape vines. I was going to paint some of the pumpkins, but then, I decided I liked them better au naturel. There are so many pumpkin varieties and colors these days. I will be spray painting the grapevine in the pots a bronze or silver to go with my wreath because I can’t see the black in the shade. Oh, and the rug with the colors that started this whole mess came from Target.

Fall garden with crotons shining in the fading light.
Fall garden border with crotons shining in the fading light.

Someone on Twitter’s garden chat asked me the other night what crotons are. Crotons are simply the best thing that ever happened to southern gardens in the fall. Once they were only sold to wholesale landscape designers, but now you can find them at local nurseries and box stores. To get that full designer look, you must buy the largest crotons you can find. Being tropical, they’ll burn if temperatures dip below 45 degrees fahrenheit unless you cover them with trash bags. However, that doesn’t happen here until late October. When temperatures finally freeze, you can plant tulip bulbs in their place. The terra cotta pots, above, are treated to be frost resistant, but they will still need some protection from freezing temperatures.

Autumn is my favorite season because it is the culmination of everything I’ve worked for all year. It deserves a celebration. I told my daughter, Bear, my theory about fall and the orange lights for the jack-o-lanterns. She smiled indulgently. She’s fifteen now, and I sometimes feel like she’s the parent instead of me.

Tired, I also said I didn’t know for whom I was doing all of this since we live out in the country, and rarely does anyone come to our door. We don’t get trick or treaters, and most of my kids are now grown and in college. I don’t really have neighbors who are interested either.

Home from school, she was headed into the house to drop her backpack, but she turned and said, “Why, Mama, you’re doing it for me.”

I nearly teared up, but instead I smile. I don’t get these jewels very often anymore, so I cherish them when they come. Tonight, as I flip the switches on those LED lights, I’ll think about how much she loves me.

Happy Fall everyone. I hope your front door decor goes smoother than mine.

38 Comments

  1. Phil Johnson says:

    Dee:
    Just came across your blog the other day – and added it as a feed for my users to enjoy as well (itsallabouttown.com). Hope to bring you some added avid readers. Thanks! Phil

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Phil and nice to meet you!

  2. Well, Dee, many of your blogger friends have now seen your wonderful, inspiring creations. Please keep doing them for us, even if few people pass your house. P. x

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Pam, you’re sweet. I do love to decorate.

  3. Stunning decor for the holiday Dee…maybe one of these days I will get back to decorating….I grew one pumpkin this year…hopefully we will grow our own pumpkins finally next year.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Donna, I’m impressed you grew one pumpkin. I find them very difficult to grow organically here between the squash bugs and squash vine borers. Good on you!

  4. Wow, I had never even heard of Talavera pumpkins before, and I live 30 min away from Talavera (Spain, that is)! Talavera is famous for its traditional ceramic tiles and pots in blue and white, and I love seeing how Mexican Talavera ceramics have given it new life with more color and formats (jack-o-lanterns, no less!).

    I, too, live in a rural area, and I fully recognize that any and all holiday decorating I do is all for my kids…

    1. Dee Nash says:

      And, for yourself LL. You should do decorating for you. 🙂 That is cool about the Talavera pottery tiles in Spain. I am gaga for the Mexican versions.

  5. Love the color and texture in your garden, it really plays well with the Halloween holiday.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Charlie!

  6. You’ve inspired me to get my front door spiffed up for fall! It was difficult to feel fallish when the temperatures were in the high 80s a few days ago, but it’s clearly fall now! The crotons and pansies look smashing together. xo

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Gail, it was so hot here too when I first started buying the pumpkins. Thank goodness it’s cooled off now. I can’t wait to see what you do with your front door.

  7. I like the regional flair that the Talavera pumpkins add to the mix.

  8. commonweeder says:

    I love seeing all these great ideas. We live in such an isolated spot that I never think to do much ‘decorating”. We do have potted plants and an herb garden in front of the house, but that is as far as I go.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Pat, I can certainly understand that. Some years I don’t do as much. I think I’m just celebrating an end to the hot temperatures. Happy Fall!

  9. What a beautiful fall scape you’ve created. I love it all. And, you’ve inspired me to add some fresh touches to my garden and pots as well, since some things here are a little crispy. Happy Fall to you!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Diana. I can’t wait to see what you do.

  10. sandy lawrence says:

    Re sources for those darling talavera pumpkins, here in TX the HEB grocery stores carry them in several sizes. That’s where I bought mine for my Day of the Dead stepladder vignette. I’m totally stealing your idea of the LED candles! All of your fall decor is just fabulous and inspiring. Thanks!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Sandy, a friend told me about the LED lights first so you’re not stealing. I’m really digging the orange ones. They glow at night with such warmth. Great info on where to find Talavera pottery in your part of TX.

  11. It looks great, Dee. I really like those Talavera (sp?) Jack-o-Lanterns! Your front entrance looks much more festive than mine. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Beth. I felt inspired by the cooler weather.

  12. Lost Roses says:

    Dee, that is just charming! Love the pansy schizophrenia, it happens to me every time. All those jewel-like colors! And by the way, you may be on a country road but everybody on this internet highway gets to enjoy it too. 🙂

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much. You know, LR, I think that’s one of the reasons I started a blog in the first place. It does help to have friends all over the country, nay, the world. 🙂

  13. Peggy says:

    Beautiful! This is my very favorite time of the year!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Mine too Peggy. I love fall.

  14. The decorations look great. I like how you’ve tucked pumpkins in with the flowers.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thanks! I love them that way. When the flowers grow a bit bigger, and the mums bloom, it should be awesome. I’ll post more pictures then.

  15. indygardener says:

    Gorgeous and wonderful. I love your fall plantings.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Carol!

  16. Beautiful and inviting! Thanks for the smile.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you for coming by Curtiss Ann. I miss seeing your sweet face. I think I need to fly down to Mobile. 😉

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Of course you do it for you and your hubby as well as your little Bear. It looks beautiful. I am glad you didn’t paint your pumpkins. Just mixing in all those warty squashes is interesting. Fun…

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, they just all looked so good when I piled them there that I thought, nah….

  18. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I love those talavera pumpkins! I wonder where I could find them here. I must think on that! Your fall decor is stunning, Dee. I’ll bet you smile every time you walk out the door!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Cindy, they are everywhere here now, and the prices, while still high, have gone way down. Start in Mexican markets and import stores and go from there. We see them in nurseries here a lot. There are also witches, lizards, turtles, geckos, crosses, etc. I’m just into the pumpkins.

  19. Oh my gosh! Your cute stuff is so enchanting! 🙂 Love it!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Christina!

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