Garden Photo of the Day

Making Creative Fall Containers

Skipping the mums, this garden uses perennials for long-lasting, beautiful container plantings

Today’s photos come from Cheri Barnett:

In 2015, I was inspired by a Fine Gardening article recommending that readers create fall containers without using mums. With this in mind, I walked around my Toronto (Zone 5) backyard several times and proceeded to dig out a piece of this and a portion of something else. It took me a while because I was using what I already had growing and needed to visualize the completed containers as I went along. Creating these fall containers was definitely a positive mental process.

Each autumn I would place them on display and then either stack them against my fence or put them inside my heated garden shed for the winter months. In spring, I would fertilize them, then put them on my back deck, watering them regularly. They grew well and looked great throughout our growing season. However, after three years, my initial containers became overgrown, so I replanted the perennials back into my garden.

In August 2017, it was time to start over and repeat this challenging process once again. After taking a good look around my garden areas , I decided to use not only what I had growing in my garden but also to purchase a few new perennials for more variety. The results for their second year can be seen below. My two favorite containers have the variegated sedum and the praying hands hostas. With more contrast and interest, they hold my gaze longer.

A tall sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–11) mixed with a shorter sedum (possibly Sedum ‘Dazzleberry’, Zones 4–9) and a hosta (Zones 3–9).


The same container seen from above.


Tall variegated sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Charm’, Zones 3–11) with beautifully contrasting golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 4–8) and a purple-leaved heuchera (Heuchera hybrid, Zones 4–9).


Another view of the same container.


Hosta ‘Praying Hands’ (Zones 3–9) provides the centerpiece for this container, backed up by a rich diversity of foliage.


The same container seen from above shows the interplay between a dark-leaved heuchera and Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 5–8).


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2018

    Your container creations are completely captivating, Cheri (ha, decided to challenge myself with using the letter "c" in my opening sentence). Your plant choices all look great with each other and they also compliment the black color of your pot. The dark purple of the heuchera accentuates the center stem of the fern and the lighter chartruesy colors of the hosta and creeping Jenny really pop. I love what you've done.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/03/2018

    Love how you used hostas. All is so well done.

  3. Sunshine111 09/03/2018

    Your Creativity is an inspiration! Thanks for the ideas

  4. ancientgardener 09/04/2018

    Your pots are lovely. I used to think pots were just for annuals, but I am learning perennials are great additions...Now that so many beautiful coleus are available I like to work around their colors also. Japanese Painted Ferns make everything more beautiful and yours with the heuchera is right on.

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