Thursday, October 21, 2021

Autumn Décor from Your Own Backyard by Nancy Shepard


With October’s cooler evenings and my garden slowly retreating, I cruised the hobby and craft stores looking for autumn decorations. My grandchildren live far away so pumpkins, ghouls and corn stalks didn’t interest me this year. “Just something that looks natural” I said to myself as I looked over all the fuax flowers and leaves with their neon bright oranges and yellows. The stores even have some made to look nearly dead to convince you it looks like real autumn. I left empty handed.

But as soon as I got home, I realized I had everything I needed in my own yard, almost all of them past their prime but still looking regal.

Purple Fountain grass
 (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
This plant is grown as an annual here in Colorado but reaches its prime at the end of summer and the beginning of fall with large purple plumes.

Silver Sage Salvia (Argentea)

In addition to very large fuzzy leaves in the summer with long stems of white flowers, it continues to have magnificent dried stalks in the fall.


Silver Sage Salvia (Argentea)
Left: in its prime, Right: in the fall

Dark Towers Hybrid Beardtongue
 (Penstemon 'Dark Towers')

After giving such a magnificent show this summer, I didn't expect this penstemon to deliver again, but the seed heads were a perfect purplish red for a vase.

Penstemon 'Dark Towers"
Left: in its prime, Right: in the fall

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
(Calamagrostis acutiflora)

As ubiquitous as it is in commercial landscaping, this grass (and all our perennial grasses) make a striking fall dried arrangement.

Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)
Left: in summer, Right: in fall

Even after its blue flowers are gone, the blue flax has little seed heads that are a nice filler.

Pink Yarrow (Achillea millefolium "Oertel's Rose")

Pink Yarrow (Achillea millefolium 'Oertel's Rose'
Right: in summer, Right: in fall
I’m not much of a flower arranger but I managed to poke them all in vases using a bit of the “thrill, fill and spill” motif and I can say I really like the results. I didn’t need something that “looks natural” but only the natural plants themselves.