Well, it’s that time of the year: vacations are over, the kids are back in school, and we’re stuck at home staring at those summer planters by the front door or patio that are looking more than just a little tired. With that in mind, you are faced with two choices:
Walk by them every day while turning your head the other way, or
Simply go to Amsterdam Garden Centre where we have hundreds of autumn planter options just waiting to inspire you.
Here are just a few of the plant possibilities that you can choose from.
These evergreen perennials are the "crown jewels" of autumn planters with dazzling foliage of just about any colour you can imagine, including golden-brown (‘Crème Brulee’), rosy-purple (‘Primo Wild Rose’), chartreuse (‘Lime Rickey’), mahogany-red (‘Cherry Truffles’), intense peach (‘Peachberry Ice’) and even metallic-silver (‘Silver Gumdrop’). Use these low mounding plants around the edge of your containers to contrast your centrepiece and trailers.
There are any number of trailers to choose from, including variegated English Ivies such as ‘Glacier’ (mint green with white edges), ‘Golden Ingot’ (irregular gold blotches) or ‘White Ripple’ (finely cut with thin white margins), as well as the intricate branches of Wire Vine (Muehlenbechia complexa). Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia n. ‘Aurea’) also provides a reliable cascade of rounded chartreuse foliage, while Vinca major ‘Wojo’s Gem’ takes periwinkle to a much larger scale. Last but not least is Carex ‘Evergold’ with its arching variegated foliage that softens the pot edge.
This class of Scotch Heather or Calluna vulgaris has flower buds that don’t open, but that means the colour lasts until Christmas. Some of your better choices include ‘Renate’ (purple), ‘Sabine’ (reddish-pink) and ‘Verenka’ (pure white), while the more textural ‘Barcelona’ has tall whipcord foliage of golden-green that works well as a center in smaller containers. The newer ‘Yellow Beauty’ is not a bud bloomer but its intense magenta flowers contrast sharply against the gold foliage and really catch the eye.
These small mounding evergreen perennials can turn that empty space in your planters into show-stopping highlights. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) is a durable subshrub with glossy green foliage and bright red berries; the newer ‘Winter Splash’ gives us variegated leaves with pink to red highlights. Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’ brings highly textured chartreuse needles, while ‘Blue Cushion’ provides a unique greyish-blue hue. Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’ takes us to darker regions with glossy near-black foliage, while the new ‘Princess Nadia’ has much finer variegated leaves with contrasting blue flowers.
For smaller planters, there are any number of upright evergreens such as the edible sages Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina’ (green with gold variegation) or ‘Tricolor’ (sage green with cream edges and hints of purple) as well as the very silvery Helichrysum ‘Icicles’. For a shot of chartreuse with lemon scent look to Cupressus ‘Wilma Goldcrest’, which does get larger with time.
Another useful class of evergreen perennials with interesting texture coupled with fantastic foliage. The gold-variegated forms (‘Helena’, ‘Ascot Rainbow’) will take on more reddish hues in the cold weather, as does ‘Ruby Glow’. While ‘Glacier Blue’ (greenish-blue with cream edges), ‘Shorty’ (blue-green) and ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (green with prominent creamy-yellow margins) are more or less consistent throughout the year.
Putting It Altogether
I thought I would share a few small-scale examples to get you on track and illustrate how the contrasting textures and colours can be used to best effect.
Planter Idea #1
Planter Idea #2
Planter Idea #3
Planter Idea #4
Last But Not Least…You Can Cheat
If the plant selection seems a little overwhelming or the thought of colour combinations a bit intimidating, then I suggest you cheat by buying one of the many 6-pack autumn container kits, which gives you everything you need to create a designer fall display where you can honestly say “I planted it myself."