The fall season is upon us, and after a dry spring and summer, many are ready to throw in the trowel and call the 2021 gardening season a wrap. But I urge you to take a close look at the perennials in your landscape this fall. We tend to rely on trees and shrubs to give us the lovely orange, red, and yellow hues that delight us, but perennials can offer an autumnal beauty of their own. Take time to observe if any in your yard offer fall interest or do they offer perpetual problems? Here are a few problems that I commonly see in the fall landscape along with solutions:
Problem: Black-eyed Susans with black spots on leaves
This is known as Septoria Leaf Spot, and no matter the precautions and cleanup methods used, it always returns. The solution? Replace those cheery yellow flowers with newer cultivars that are resistant to that disease.
Solution: Rudbeckia ‘Sweet as Honey’ (shown above) is a brand new black-eyed Susan cultivar that is a great performer and is covered with blooms from July through September.It’s narrow foliage is disease resistant. Plant it with Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Golden Prairie’ for a lovely fall display.
Problem: Asters with bare legs
This embarrassing problem is prevalent with many older, taller varieties of Asters. You can camouflage those bare stems by planting shorter perennials in front of them, but there are better Asters that hold their leaves and have beautiful blossoms in September and October.
Solution: Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’ (shown above) is my pick for one of those better Asters. The showy purplish-blue flowers attract bees and butterflies, and it serves as host and nectar plant.
Problem: One-season Sedum
We wait all season watching the sedum grow up and finally begin to flower in early fall. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sedum that shows color earlier?
Solution: Sedum ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (shown above). I have fallen in love with this sedum, with it’s mauve stems and hints of pink through the summer months. Raspberry-colored flowers appear in early fall and the leaves change to shades of orange and red. What more could you want?
Problem: Lack of good fall foliage color
I’m always on the lookout for perennials that offer interest in more than one season - especially foliage with fall color.
Solution: Penstemon ‘Pocahontas’ (shown above) is one such plant and checks several boxes on the list. It’s quite the sight to behold when in bloom, and it’s burgundy foliage remains from spring into fall.
Problem: Lack of Fall Flowers for Pollinators
Solution: In addition to the perennials mentioned above, there is one more to add to the fall garden, and that is Vernonia also known as Ironweed. V. ‘Southern Cross’ (shown above) is one that has caught my attention the last couple years. The plant grows 3’ tall and wide in full sun. The fine, narrow foliage stays fresh all summer and purple flower buds look like little jewels before opening to the purple blossoms that are loved by butterflies. Ornamental grasses are a great companion to this must-have perennial.
There’s much to enjoy in the fall landscape, so maximize yours with better, smarter perennial selections.
The Herbal Harvest: Basil
It's time to harvest your basil! Hopefully you have been snipping some all summer, but now it's time to get serious. Basil is pretty touchy when it comes to cold temperatures which can dip down into the 40's on September nights.
Here are a few tips:
- Early morning is the best time to harvest for the best flavor.
- Cut back up to half of the plant.
- Keep cuttings in a glass of water if you can't get to them right away.
- There are several ways to preserve basil. One is to freeze it with olive oil in an ice cube tray.
We recently had the two women from Hickory Grove Farm here at Bella Botanica at our Afternoon Herbal Tea event. Marge Koenecke and Beth Malliet shared the following recipe for making pesto with basil and parsley. Following their demonstration, they used the pesto to make Pesto Pizza Rounds which are a super quick hors d'euvre to make. So yummy! Enjoy!
¼ c. pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, or pecans toasted at 350 degrees for 8-10 min
2 cloves garlic
1 c. fresh spinach, packed
1 c. fresh basil, packed
½ c. fresh parsley, packed
½ tsp. salt
½ c. good quality olive oil
¾ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
In food processor, puree nuts, garlic, spinach, basil, parsley, and salt. Add olive oil and blend Add parmesan cheese. Pulse briefly. Do not overblend.
PESTO PIZZA ROUNDS
2 baguettes, sliced ½” thick
½ c. pizza sauce
½ c. parmesan cheese
Lay slices of bread on cookie sheet. Spread a little pizza sauce and a dollop of pesto on each slice of bread. Top with a sprinkle of the remaining ½ c. cheese. Place under broiler about 3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and bread is toasted. Serve hot or at room temperature.
What's your favorite basil recipe, and how do you preserve basil?
The Art of Simple
Enlightenment dawned during a recent thrifting trip to Goodwill. I love the hunt for a forgotten treasure, but as I walked down aisle after aisle, I was overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of stuff that we accumulate as a society. So many knickknacks, choochkies, dishes, clothes, and the list goes on. I know that donations like these can help many people who don't have much, but it has made me stop and think.
I had to ask myself this question: How am I, as a consumer, contributing to this problem of too much stuff. Admittedly, I have over-consumed to a certain degree. There are closets and a basement to prove it. But why? Why do I have so much stuff? Why do I buy things in the first place? Are these things essential? Do they add value to my life? Do they bring me joy after the first day or two?
I've started listening to a podcast called 'The Minimalists' by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. I've got to say that I'm hooked! Here are two quotes by Joshua which inspire me:
“Minimalism is a tool we use to live a meaningful life. There are no rules. Rather, minimalism is simply about stripping away the unnecessary things in your life so you can focus on what’s important”.
The other is this: "Addition by subtraction". Simplifying our stuff can be the first step to simplifying our lives. And by doing so, we add more meaning to them. It's the 'less is more' concept. A simple lifestyle offers us more time, more creativity, more freedom, more contentment. . .
This art of simple living appeals to me, but where to start? I decided to begin with something tangible - something I could see tangible results in a short period of time - simplifying a room in my house.
I've been wanting to change the paint color of the walls in the office for awhile now. With starting a new business and becoming empty nesters, we don't use the room in the same way as we once did. So it's time for a redo, and I want to do it with a minimalist mindset. What better to listen to than The Cozy Minimalist by Myquillyn Smith.
Friends, this book is AMAZING! Her method of redecorating a room goes something like this:
1. Determine the purpose of the room.
2. Start a Pinterest board of inspiration and pin with passion! How fun is that?!
3. Quiet the room. This means take everything out of the room except large pieces of furniture and let the room speak.
This is the point where my husband thinks I'm off my rocker as he finds me sitting in an empty room - just sitting and listening to the room 'speak'. But it works! Having everything off the walls, no rugs, no chairs, no 'stuff', allows you to imagine all the possibilities.
Then the order goes something like this: arrange the furniture different ways until your find the best way; add in necessary seating and surfaces; then on to rugs, drapes, and lighting. I can't give the rest away, because you should read the book, too! But, I will tell you that changing the paint color on the walls is one of the last things you do, as is adding in all the decor and meaningful mementos that personalize the room. I'm still in the middle of this project, but I'm determined to follow her recommended steps, and to only put those things back into this room that are essential or that bring me joy.
In her book. Myquillyn asks this question: Are you a stuff manager or a home curator? A stuff manager is one who does this: "look through stuff, put stuff away, organize stuff, feel guilty because I haven't organized other stuff. . . pile up stuff, pack away stuff, and move around stuff." A home curator is one who makes careful decisions about what is brought into her home, and adds style with less stuff. Ouch! I want to be a home curator, but often I find myself a stuff manager. How about you?
This whole process has inspired me to put more thought into my purchases, not only as a home owner, but as a shoppe owner. I definitely don't want to contribute to this problem of consumerism and overspending, so I'm carefully and thoughtfully curating goods in my shoppe that will help YOU become a home curator. And support other small businesses in the process - bonus!
I'll leave you with two practical decorating tips from the cozy minimalist herself that have had the most impact on me as I decorate for the seasons:
As a home curator, purchase less seasonal store-bought decorations, and use more of what nature offers. For example, invest in a lovely vase that can be left out year-round (aka attractive even when empty), and add a faux botanical stem or foraged branches. Beautiful and simple.
As a home curator, consider the five senses as you decorate for fall:
1. Smell: Candles! What are the fragrances of fall? Pumpkin, apple, spices . . .
2. Sight: Autumnal hues can be reflected in pillows, in pottery, and a simple arrangement of mini pumpkins, pinecones, and bittersweet in a wooden bowl; a planted fall container on the front porch accompanied with a fall wreath on the door. . .
3. Touch: It's all about cozy and about texture. Soft blankets in rattan baskets, holding a book in your hand as you read, touching pen and paper as you handwrite a note to a friend, or enjoying the feel of your favorite mug in your hand. . .
4. Sound: Maybe it's a crackling fire, geese migrating, or certain songs. I love classical music in the fall and am working on a Spotify play list for fall. What would your fall playlist sound like?
5. Taste: This is a fun category that includes pumpkin desserts, fall-flavored coffee, caramel apples, soups, harvested vegetables, preserved fruits. . .
Simple living is made up of simple pleasures. For me, it's about connecting with nature, making memories, spending time with those we love, and showing kindness to everyone. It's putting the focus on people, not on things. It's about making thoughtful, intentional decisions when it comes to stuff. And it's about being content with what we have. To me, that's the art of simple. What does the art of simple look like to you?
Below, you'll find a few resources that I highly recommend if a cozy minimalist lifestyle appeals to you, along with an easy way to fill your home with all the fall smells. Blessings as you transition from one season to another, and may you find joy and contentment in the simple things life offers.
The Cozy Minimalist by Myquillyn Smith
Love People, Use Things by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Minimalists podcast
Follow @thenester on Instagram
AN EASY SIMMERING POTPOURI FOR FALL
In a saucepan or slow cooker, combine the following:
1/2 orange (sliced), 4-6 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. whole cloves. Simmer in water. Check frequently and add water if necessary.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD'S WORD:
... I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind.
I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!