So I promise this post is about my planters, but first I just have to tell you about a new perfume I recently purchased because it smells simply divine! It’s by a boutique perfumer called Nomaterra, and the creators use their travels as inspirations for their fragrances, combining scents meant to evoke a certain destination. We just spent time on Cape Cod as a family, and had such a wonderful time! Just thinking about our trip there makes me feel relaxed. So when I came across Nomaterra’s perfume entitled Cape Cod Wild Beach Rose, I had to try it. I took one sniff and went on an olfactory journey–the fresh combination of salt air and flowers transporting me right back to the Cape. Sold! I will most definitely be checking out their some of their other scents by trying this assortment of travel-friendly fragrance wipes. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.
As per the perfumer’s description for Cape Cod Wild Beach Rose, “The windswept sandy beaches of Cape Cod nestle into a backdrop of vibrant foliage from surrounding beech and birch trees as fall approaches the coastal town. Wisps of saltwater and citrus wrap themselves around fresh wild flowers anchored by decadent French lavender and warm amber for those chilly fall nights on the coast. A modern remake of the rose accord–crisp, cold, refreshingly transparent yet still elegantly feminine, this fresh-cut beach rose scent was inspired by an excursion up the New England coast in autumn.”
Yup, that’s about right. Don’t you just love how poetic perfume descriptions can be? Whenever I wear it, at some point over the day, I’ll suddenly catch a whiff and think to myself, in somewhat less poetic internal monologue, “Ooh, something smells so good…oh wait, it’s ME!” Anyway, all the lovely flower notes in this perfume and the crisp air description got me thinking about two things: my own garden and the start of autumn.
Though hydrangeas are not one of the fragrance notes in this perfume (probably because they don’t have much of a fragrance), I cannot help but think of them when I smell this perfume and am reminded of Cape Cod, as they are prevalent in the garden landscapes of that particular seaside destination. While there are some beautiful perennials and interesting plants, including hydrangeas, in my garden, admittedly it needs a little help. It had gotten a bit overgrown prior to us moving in, and as I am a horticultural newbie, getting our garden back in order is going to be a learning process (one which will no doubt lead to several blog posts in the future!). Pruning is rather terrifying to me as I’m afraid of killing the plants, but I will soon have to face that fear. However, one garden endeavor I thought I was ready to tackle this past summer was filling the two giant planters we have on either side of our front door. While our planters came with the house, if you are looking for some, Frontgate has a huge selection of beautiful ones. Anyway, being a lover of blue hydrangeas, I chose those pure azure pom-pom blossoms to fill my planters and add a colorful, coastal-inspired flourish to our front entrance.
Alas, apparently I was not, in fact, ready to tackle that garden endeavor after all. The brilliant blue color of the hydrangeas, which at first really popped against our brick house, has since totally changed color to a variety of grayish purples, faded pinks, and muted greens–some brighter than others, but decidedly not blue. Here is one of the few remaining small blue blooms nestled among the more subtly-colored blooms that have overtaken the plants.
The plants are still healthy, and while up-close the flowers are quite pretty and the colors are actually interesting in an understated way, from a distance, the plants look, well…dead. It’s a sad sight. The fact that these hydrangeas are not giving me the blues is, well, giving me the blues.
I did a little research as to why they lost their distinctive blue hue, and as it turns out, the acidity level of the soil is key to maintaining the color. If the soil is too alkaline, that blue fades away or can change color entirely. There are additives you can put in the soil to increase the acidity, but unfortunately for my planters, I didn’t do my homework in advance. But since the hydrangeas are still healthy, I decided to replant them into the ground in our garden, where the soil has a higher acidity level, so we can appreciate those blue blossoms for years to come. I asked Stew and the kids to tackle that project, and they had a blast getting their hands dirty!
But now it’s time to refill our empty planters. While I’m loath to let go of summer, I cannot deny that we recently have had a few chilly mornings and evenings tinged with that certain crispness to the air that is a distinct harbinger of autumn. A fall display is in order.
Last autumn I planted massive mums that I got at Costco in the planters. They were one-and-done planters, just simple mum plants–but the sheer size of the plants made a pretty good impact. If you are a member of Costco and want something easy to give your exterior a fall flair, check out Costco’s garden section this year, and hopefully they’ll stock them again. But this year I wanted an alternative to mums–something a little more interesting. I thought an assortment of plants in autumnal colors with varying sizes and textures would fit the bill. So off to the local garden center I went.
Not having done much gardening in the past, and therefore having had little reason to spend time at a garden center in the fall, I wasn’t expecting to find much in the way of autumn horticultural selections. Boy, was I wrong! Aside from rows upon rows of mums, I was amazed at the variety of of ornamental grasses, vibrant coleus plants in stunning colors, hearty cool-weather flowers, and a plethora of other options. Home Depot is another good starting point, as its garden section usually carries a big selection of seasonal plants at a good price.
Here is one variety of coleus I saw at the garden center, called Kong Mosaic Coleus, with a pattern that I found mesmerizing. I didn’t choose this plant because it’s quite large, but I couldn’t help taking a picture because the gorgeous colors on these leaves look just like an abstract watercolor painting!
There were also these pretty, cheerful flowers, which I believe are a variety of helenium. Again, I didn’t get them, as they weren’t the specific height I was looking for for my planters–but they would make a great option for an autumnal, non-mum floral display.
But on to what I DID choose. I settled on a color scheme of saturated, warm shades of plum, cranberry, red, and orange, offset by bright lime green.
I started off with this this purple grass, called Fireworks Fountain Grass, to serve as both the tallest element and textural background of my arrangement.
While the overall effect is a plum color, there’s actually an array of colors on each blade of grass, several of which are topped by a fuzzy little tail-thingy (yes, tail-thingy is the scientific botanical term).
Next, for a dramatic burst of saturated cranberry, and a middle-height element, I chose this deep red coleus.
This Indian Summer variety coleus was my other middle-height element–its ruffly leaves beautifully tying together my color scheme, and providing lots of visual texture.
For the front-and-center spot of my display, I chose these adorable, punchy little ornamental peppers. They are so fun, and add yet another interesting textural element. Note: for those of you with small children, these peppers are NOT edible.
I threw in some orange mums at the base of the arrangement for good measure. I wanted one floral element, and why not this autumn classic.
I filled in the bottom with a bright green grass, called Ogon Golden Variegated Sweet Flag, to add more texture.
Finally, I let this Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime sweet potato vine (say THAT ten times fast!) with heart-shaped leaves spill over the edges of the planter and tumble down the front to add a little more interest. Random thought: there was a little lumpy thing in each of the root systems of the vine plants, which makes me wonder if I can harvest a couple sweet potatoes when I redo my planters again for the winter (holiday planters will be a future blog post!). Now those are planters with style and function!
I arranged them all by height, considering placement of different colors and textures, and the lovely, cascading effect is both wild and balanced at the same time. Here is the finished product!
Considering it’s my first attempt at creating a planter like this, I am quite pleased with the result. The planters are vibrant, exuberant, lush, and perfectly autumnal. If I were to change one thing, it would be the color of the tall ornamental grass. I should have considered the fact that, up against the brick exterior of my home, the color of the grass would blend in rather than pop, so next year I will take that into account and choose a different color. But all in all, I really like them, and this newbie gardener is giving herself a pat on the back. No more singing the hydrangea blues!
- I believe that a home and a life can be not only functional and family friendly, but also beautiful and stylish. I love vivid colors and energetic prints, and infusing classic design with contemporary personality, global influences, and coastal elements. I'm so excited to share my thoughts, tips, and ideas, from my nest to yours!