It’s fall veggie time!

Gone are the days of countless fresh tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, squash, eggplant, cucumber and more.  If you’re like me, maybe you have a couple producers still left in the garden that you just couldn’t bare to rip out, but most of my summer veggies are gone now.  So what’s next?  Back to cool season veggies!

What’s the difference between cool season veggies and summer veggies?  One main difference is that most summer veggies are actually fruits and cool season veggies are true veggies.  Cool season veggies are grown for their leaves (like lettuce, collards, etc), roots (like beets, radishes, etc), flower heads (like broccoli, cauliflower, etc), and bulbs (like onions, leeks, etc).  Summer veggies are mostly grown for their fruits like the ones listed previously.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic region we have two cool growing seasons – spring and fall.

In one of my earlier posts you saw my summer veggie garden in my front yard…since my back yard is mostly shade it’s difficult to grow many edibles there, so I have to get creative.  Now I want to show you my front yard cool season garden.  Since a neighborhood bunny visited my house recently and snacked on my new veggie starts (which was on today’s to do list to get in the ground), I’ll have to share my photos from this past spring.  But don’t worry, I’ll be growing the same veggies this season as you see in the photos in a similar configuration.  Also please take note that I don’t have a HUGE area that I grow in, so don’t think you have to have a large piece of land to grow your own veggies.

And don’t forget herbs too!  Many are perennial and now is still a great time to plant those too.

This is what I started with:


Then I added these guys:


The final product:

Growing up and getting bigger:





A few close-ups:






And now we get to eat!

Who were your top performers?

I’m STILL in the process of refreshing my containers and gearing up for fall…you know, getting rid of stuff that was looking straggly and rough and replacing them with some fresh beauties.  There were a number of containers I was so impressed with this year…and of course a few that I wasn’t.  Each year I grow a selection of plants that I know and love.  I also trial a number of plants that either I haven’t grown at all or I pick different varieties of a plant that I’m already familiar with…or of course trying out what’s new for the year.

This year there were about five containers that I absolutely fell in love with and hope to recreate again next year. It’s funny because often times when I put together an awesome combo it’s because I really need to declutter my driveway of all the miscellaneous plants I’ve collected and HAVE to do something with!  Maybe it’s the pressure that does it!

Anyways, these are my top five favorite combos for summer 2013:





Begonia Big Red (Green Leaf), Coleus Kong Salmon Pink, Alternanthera Little Ruby (definitely one of my new fave plants of all time!).  This is a great shade/part sun combo.



Browallia Endless Flirtation (2), Bacopa Snowstorm Blue (2), Plectranthus Mona Lavender (2) (another one of my absolute favorite plants), Summer Wave Torenia Large Silver, Alternanthera Little Ruby.  Another great combo for shade/part sun.




Kimberly Queen Fern, Strobilanthus oliganthus ‘Alba’, Skyflower Yellow, Agastache Deluxe Acapulco Dark Blue.  Sun Lover.




Manihot Esculenta Variegata (another one of my faves, and severely under used), Stained Glass Works Coleus Burgundy Wedding Train, Purslane Rio Scarlet.  Sun loving.







And last but not least, my #1 Fave of the year: Sky Flower Tala Blanco ‘Gold Edge’ (2) (a totally under used annual that I’m in love with), Torenia Moon White, Agastache Deluxe Acapulco Pink, Kent Beauty Oregano (Love), Geranium Mrs. Pollock, Petunia Suncatcher Vintage Rose, Coleus ??? – I’m not sure of the variety on this one!!!.  Sun lover.

So these are the combos I loved so much this year and I’m sure you will too if you try ’em. What combos made YOU feel like a potting genius this year?

Cooling off with Fall Annuals

Well, here we are, at my favorite time of year…ALREADY!    As some of my summer annuals are starting to, well, not look quite as nice as they once did, I’m ripping them out of my containers and landscape and replacing with some freshies that can perform a little better in the cooler season.  While my summer annuals could certainly make it through until frost, it’s always nice to mix in some new fall varieties as well so my pots aren’t looking so tired.

So, what plants define fall to you?  Most people say Mums or Pansies, or even Ornamental Cabbage and Kale.  My favorite is the fall blooming Celosia, Celosia Intenz.  I love this plant, and every year we can never keep it in stock at the Garden Center.  It’s not your typical bronze or yellow fall color (which don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that too), but its a bright fuchsia color which adds a nice pop to a fall mix.  It’s also on the taller side so it can give a little height to a container and has a unique bloom shape which adds some awesome texture.

Celosia Intenz

Some of my other favorite fall flowers include the Efanthia Euphorbia and Helena’s Blush Euphorbia (the variegated variety), both of which are actually perennials.  The fall interest is their foliage which turns more burgundy as the temperature drops and their interesting shape also adds some great texture.

Efanthia Euphorbia

I’m also a huge fan of Nemesia, my favorite being Sunsatia Mango.  I’m so in love with this color!  And it performs very well in the cool season.  It definitely pitters out in the heat of the summer but a couple years ago I had it come back for me again in the fall…but I had the patience, or the laziness, to let it do that!  The rest of the Sunsatia Series (by Proven Winners)  is great too, but Mango is the prettiest in my opinion.

Sunsatia Mango Nemesia, Photo Credit: Proven Winners

I also like the Aromatica Scarlet Nemesia and Aromatica Sky Blue Nemesia.  Both are simply beautiful and wonderfully fragrant.

Aromatica Scarlet Nemesia, Photo Credit: Ball Horticulture Company

Aromatica Sky Blue Nemesia

So, like I said before, your summer annuals can most certainly go til frost, and some can even take a light frost too.  But sometimes after a long summer some of those annuals can just look a little tired.  There are some that perform well in the summer heat and can also tolerate those chilly temps that fall can bring.  Calibrachoa and Petunias are great examples of this.

Calibrachoa Superbells Lemon Slice

Petunia Pinstripe

We carry these guys spring, summer and fall…just be sure to watch your watering on those petunias in the heat – they can get thirsty.  I even conducted a small experiment early this spring and sacrificed one 4″ pot of calibrachoa, you know, in the name of science.  Well, the exciting part of this story is that I left this little guy out all by himself in the 28 degree cold of night and he was totally fine!   Now, I don’t think we got a true frost that night but it got darn cold!

OH!  And one more I absolutely cannot leave out is the Kent Beauty Ornamental Oregano.  This is hands down one of my faves and is actually a perennial I often winter over to include in many of my containers.  I keep a stock of these guys in the Annuals Department throughout the growing season because they perform so well in mixed containers.

Kent Beauty Ornamental Oregano

So, what are you doing in YOUR garden to spruce it up for the cool season coming up?  Inquiring minds want to know!