Fanciful Fall Foliage

Fanciful Fall Foliage

Get big color impact with a fountain of fall color. 
One of the things I love about gardening is that you never know when you’ll run across a new project or planting idea you can “steal” for your own backyard. For example, a while back my wife and I were visiting friends in Ithaca, New York, and we decided to take a field trip the colorful home goods manufacturer MacKenzie-Childs. These folks specialize in bold and fanciful tableware, furnishings, and other home goods, so I wasn’t surprised when I stepped onto an adjoining patio and discovered a large vintage fountain filled with fanciful fall foliage.

Each level of the fountain was packed with soil and then planted with an eye-popping orange, purple, and green color palette. The biggest impact came from wide rings of purple ornamental sweet potato vine that vigorously trailed over the edge of each section of the fountain. An inner circle of Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) added a layer of shimmering purple that blended beautifully with the bright green fronds of Boston fern. To create the illusion of falling water, clumps of chartreuse creeping Jenny were scattered throughout the fountain. A shower of golden, confetti-like leaves from nearby trees were an added bonus.

Because we were visiting near Halloween, bright orange pumpkins were added for seasonal color. In spring and summer you could easily add pots of blooming azalea, daffodil, gerbera, dahlia, marigold, or petunia before pumpkin season rolls around.

If you don’t happen to have a giant vintage fountain hanging around your backyard, you can get the same effect by stacking different sized pots on top of each other. And, if you want to reverse the color combination use chartreuse varieties of ornamental sweet potato instead of purple. You can also replace the Persian shield with a gold-leafed coleus variety (such as Wasabi) and the creeping Jenny with Purple Heart tradescantia, trailing blue verbena, or blue scaevola. The Boston ferns work well with any color scheme you come up with.

Written by Doug Jimerson