As we approach the last few hot days of August, my mind is already turning towards fall. I can’t wait for the air to turn crisp and fresh, which somehow always induces a sense of nesting; I am anxious for the sounds and smells of autumn, like the rustling of leaves, birds migrating, fresh apples, hearty one-pot meals, and of course pumpkin pie!! Excited at the thought of decorating for fall, August and September are the months to clean up and say goodbye to summer. Here are a few ideas for simple fall decorating:
- It is time to let go of those tired, worn out annuals that you have been watering and dead heading all summer, so clean out your clay pots and urns, and make way for fall blooming mums, hardy pansies, and colorful kale. A visit to your local nursery will provide an ample assortment of these fall favorites.
- As weeding comes to an end, it is time to cut back spring blooming perennials in the garden, and make a list of fall blooming perennials needed to fill empty spots – like asters, boltonia and grasses. Add a fresh layer of mulch to your beds, especially around more delicate plants like hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas, and tuck them in for the winter. Don’t forget to plant bulbs now, so that you can enjoy them in the spring. My yard is invaded every spring by deer who dine on anything and everything, so I serve them daffodils, which they ungraciously refuse to eat.
- Smaller urns can be brought indoors, just attach felt tips to the bottom then fill with nature’s bounty like mini pumpkins, gourds, pomegranates, and finish with sprigs of bittersweet, eucalyptus or rosehips, or place a large pillar candle on a timer in the center of an urn and fill in with various sizes of pinecones. These make beautiful displays on your dining room table or buffet.
- Using a large, tall clear vase, add branches with colorful fall leaves to use as a centerpiece.
- If your large urns outside are potted with evergreens, like boxwood, start at the base of the plant, wrap bittersweet or grapevine around a couple of times to add fullness, then work your way up to add instant fall color.
- Start collecting fallen twigs or smaller branches, fill the bottom of a glass hurricane candle holder or lantern with acorns or walnuts, add branches or mini pumpkins in the center and tuck in a bird’s nest.
- By the end of September, I can’t wait to give my front porch a fall makeover. I tend to get a little frivolous with pumpkins of every shape and size – I group them across my porch and down my front steps, and then I intertwine them with grapevine or bittersweet. I fill black urns and clay pots with red and yellow mums, I tuck in lanterns with battery operated candles and wrap small vines of bittersweet or honeysuckle around them, and they give a warm welcoming glow to guests on cool fall nights.
- Now that some of the fall clean up is done and the decorating has begun, make sure you take some time to enjoy all the beauty autumn has to offer – take a drive along a scenic route, in the Midwest we like to start in the southeast corner of Iowa around Ft. Madison and work our way up through Burlington, Mt. Pleasant and Swedesburg. I always like to bring home a special find like a feather, colorful leaves, or dried flowers to tuck into a wreath. Stop and visit a local orchard and sample the apple cider and homemade pies. I always cherish these last days before the snow arrives.