No matter what season is in question, a centerpiece in a container planting can organize the planting, and enrich the visual experience. Fall in my zone means a limited selection of plants grow at a vastly reduced rate. My summer pots have nicotiana mutabilis topping 6 feet now-none of my fall plants will grow like this. I have no objection to creating a centerpiece in a fall pot from natural materials that have already grown up, and been harvested. A case of really beautiful bittersweet arrived a few days ago-I could not wait to use it in some fall container plantings.
Other natural materials are from places far from my home. Bahia spears-I have not the faintest idea what plant produced these stems. They are stiff and woody; these chocolate and gold stems look just like fall. Dried natural materials are an element that can spice up a fall planting. I love each and every one of my living plants, but the ability to create a shape from natural materials, and integrate that into a planting is great fun-try it!
The base of this centerpiece-a pair of broomcorn shocks. Broomcorn-yes, this plant has been widely grown for for brooms. This means the stalks are stiff and weather impervious. The seed heads come in a range of colors from cream to red to black. I zip tie several bunches around a stout bamboo stake. That stake will keep my centerpiece straight up and down, no matter the weather. Zip ties-love them. They hold the heaviest centerpiece together. I use lots of them, in the early stages of construction.This centerpiece is ready; there are three layers- all zip tied to a stake. The lower tier-10 faux grass stems. Fault me if you will for the fake statement, but anything that pleases my eye is ok. The long portion of this stake will be set way down into to soil of a pot. This stake is an anchor, and a rudder. A centerpiece gone out of level is not a good look. The centerpieces need to stand up straight. The beauty of any design depends on what your eye can believe. This centerpiece has a ways to go, before I would call it finished.
This three tiered centerpiece gets some air from the bittersweet vine sections, and a welcome shot of fall color. I cut the stems on an extreme angle, and work them under the zip tie. These wild and curving stems will start to loosen up that strictly zip tied affair. I use lots of zip ties in the construction of a centerpiece, as it will need to travel to the job. Should you be constructing a fall centerpiece for a treasured pair of pots-go large, go tall-be loose. The ties you do not really need once the entire container is finished can be cut off, for a looser yet effect.
My centerpiece made the trip to the job without any damage. It is very heavy, but easy to handle. My crews handle anything I send their way with aplomb. The fabric you see draped over the edge of a pot keeps the pot from getting dirty on the rim. The tarp on the ground is there for the same reason. A little care keeps the cleanup part fast and easy. The Redbor kale are the center plants. These we plant first, so its easy to tell exactly where the centerpiece goes. Getting the centerpiece in the center is as important as making sure it is perfectly upright.
Levelling the centerpiece takes some time-and at least four hands. Once that centerpiece is set, level, and solid, we tweak. The top most zip tie-we cut that off. We move this element up, we move that element down. We deconstruct what we constructed. This is the most important part. A centerpiece has to be strong and securely made. But how it gets loosened up is what creates a very natural look.
Fall plantings are all about some cabbages, some mums, some late representing grasses, the pansies-those plants that tolerate cold temperatures. But fall container plantings are greatly about that gardener that has a mind to represent fall in a way they think is beautiful.
If your yard is light on materials that might work in a container, your local nursery or famer’s market is bound to have something. There are lots of possibilities for fall pots- make the most of having a choice. Your fall pots have lots of possibilities. Make much of the fall plants that tolerate the cold. Make more of putting it all together.