October 2012
Home Grown Tomatoes

Dress up your garden this fall!


Fine artist Lisa Opielinski demonstrates how easily old garden art is brightened up with a little paint.


See how a little paint can brighten up a drab garden?

It’s October already and time to put some thought into how you want your garden to look this winter. All of those pretty flowers will be gone in a few days and all that will be left are bare garden plots.

In this column, I am going to give you some ideas to help bring color to your otherwise seasonally, dead-looking garden so you can enjoy it through the cold weather months (weeks). Think about it. The cold-weather season in Alabama only lasts for a few weeks. But during that short time, not much will grow. Even though we have some days with 60-70 degree temperatures, there are still those cold spells. Prepare your garden for those warm winter days so, when they occur, you will be able to enjoy your surroundings outdoors.

For your vegetable garden, interplant some ornamentals to brighten up your cool crop beds. Flowering cabbage and kale as well as violas and pansies will add lots of color.

Fall is a great time to add garden art because you are basically starting with a clean slate.

It is best to begin decorating in your favorite part of the garden; the place where you feel the most relaxed. There, you should start by creating a sitting area. Place an attractive chair or garden bench to give yourself a place to rest while decorating the rest of the garden.

Build a path to your sitting area. Be creative. Make your own stepping stones using cement and molds purchased from a home improvement center or create your own forms with blocks of wood. Place pebbles, marbles or even broken terra cotta pots into the wet cement. Use fern fronds or large leaves to make impressions on the surface of the cement.

As long as you are building a walk path, why not border the path with decorative stones or bricks? Colored bottles placed neck down and buried in varying heights makes an interesting border.

If you would like yet another use for all of those empty bottles you have been collecting, build a bottle tree or two. Everybody needs at least one to ward off evil garden spirits. I have seen a whole forest of bottle trees in someone’s back yard. They are easy to construct and design ideas are available online.

Another great craft idea is to build garden totems from discarded or flea market glass items. Again, the design suggestions and instructions are available online. If you are not quite so crafty and prefer to buy a finished product, search your local garden centers for one. Some of your independent garden centers offer classes on the construction of garden totems. Sometimes they even allow their customers to sell their art pieces in the stores.



Clockwise from top left, a piece of art in the garden makes a statement of interest. Colorful pots can be used during the cooler months by turning them into a birdbath or feeder. Birds actually take shelter in these birdhouses. Totems created from flea market finds add whimsy and architecture to a garden or container.

Wildlife feeding stations can be as simple as a plate of birdseed on a tree stump to a rotating corn cob wheel for the squirrels. Use the opportunity to add color to your garden. Paint that plain bird feeder with a bright color! Sometimes, even a small birdhouse painted bright red or electric blue is enough color to draw attention to an otherwise ignored part of your landscape.


Spray paint can make a drab item bright and cheery.

Do you have empty decorative planters that are durable enough to stand freezing temperatures? You can still use them. Place a piece of yard art in them such as a birdhouse on a stake or rest a small dish full of water for a birdbath on top of the pot. I like to have several watering containers around the yard for the critters. Be sure, though, to punch through the ice each morning after a freeze so the animals can get to the water.

Some other ideas for decorating your garden for fall include adding dried plant materials such as harvested corn stalks or sugar cane. Hay stacked like a bee skep, gourds and pumpkins, and the ubiquitous scarecrow are all traditional representations of the season.

Go ahead and get busy decorating your garden this fall. Then, on that first warm afternoon when you have a little time off from your daily chores, you can relax with a good book or magazine and a cup of spiced tea outdoors.

If you have any questions or comments regarding outdoor décor for the seasons, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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