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A bit of earth Fall’s colors spill over decorations at home

  • Published Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, at 1:44 p.m.

The tips of the trees are catching fire at the top of the Bradford pear outside my north windows, and a constant orange sun is setting in the west window, while a golden sunrise is about to break out in the branches of a tree outside another window.

Temperatures made their first dip into the 30s, and fall seems to be fully upon us, with no sign of summer coming back.

Ah-ctober.

If you haven’t decorated your front porch for fall, with Halloween and Thanksgiving on the horizon, the weather is at least encouraging you to.

I love walking and driving around and seeing urns spilling bronze mums, orange pumpkins tucked under trees, corn stalks as regal as columns propped alongside front doors. I love to buy bales of hay to give the yard a bit of a farm feel through the fall and winter. Once they’re through serving as natural shelves and benches, they become mulch.

I’ve seen a charming yard where a wooden garden cart is filled with multicolored gourds and pumpkins – and a couple of stuffed crows – and a welcoming front porch where an old green wheelbarrow holds a still-life of pink mums, orange pumpkins and a lantern. A bale of hay standing on end provides the backdrop.

I love that peach begonias and orange marigolds are still blooming amid the fall scenes, and the grass is still emerald green. And I love jolting color contrasts, such as purple mums in orange pots against red chair cushions. The more daylight we lose (only two more weeks until we fall back to standard time), the more our eyes are overjoyed to see strong color in the landscape.

Fall decorations minus the strictly Halloween can stay up through Thanksgiving. I left my pumpkins on a side porch all winter long and enjoyed watching them become increasingly wizened with the elements. In the spring, I scooped the remains into the adjacent border and enjoyed a volunteer pumpkin vine through the summer.

Native Plant Festival

And we’re not done planting yet. In addition to the daffodil sale (it’s time to plant spring-flowering bulbs) and the orchid sale and show this weekend at Botanica, next weekend will bring a new event: a Native Plant Festival in the Bison Room of the Extension Center, from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 26. It is sponsored by the Kansas Native Plant Society, Prairie Pride Plants Native Plants, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever and Echo Landscapes.

It will feature plants and seeds for sale and for trying, aids for plant identification (including guides for sale), a display of seedpods, landscaping advice, information about pollinators and their native habitat, and how to get involved in local beautification projects and in the native plant society, including taking part in their local walks and other events.

It’s an expansion of a seed swap that the native plant society has held the past few years at this time. “These are kind of related things that make it a little more meaningful,” said Krista Dahlinger, who heads up our region for the statewide native plant society.

Nathaniel Barton of Prairie Pride Plants said that he will pick out the plants that still look the best at his nursery and bring them for sale, including native grasses in small pots and variety of wildflowers. He also will have seeds of native wildflowers that can be planted in the fall.

More information about the Kansas Native Plant Society can be found at its website, kansasnativeplantsociety.org.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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