- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Fall's arrival last week means time to swap summery pastel-colored home and garden decor for rustier shades, local gardeners and decorators say.
"You don't have to wait until Halloween," says Scott Daly, a merchandise manager at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Md., a 30-minute drive east of the District.
"People start wanting to decorate for fall as soon as their children are back at school," Mr. Daly says. "I think it's the most anticipated seasonal change."
Fall decorating schemes include both the outdoors and indoors and encompass everything from orange tablecloths to cinnamon-scented candles, potted red mums to wreaths sprinkled with dried hydrangeas and yarrow.
The basic color schemes revolve around orange, purple and sage green.
A good place to start is the front door, Mr. Daly says. It's a focal point of the house to which people generally want to draw attention.
Easy changes include putting a fall-themed flag covered with a leaf print, for example over the front door and laying a doormat with the same type of motif at the entryway, he says.
Another popular touch is hanging a wreath on the door.
Wreaths can be bought or created from scratch, which is what Lynette Jensen does.
"I just love wreaths, both for the fall and Christmas season," says Ms. Jensen, a decorator, author and quilt maker in Hutchinson, Minn.
One of her favorite fall varieties is made with dried hydrangeas and yarrow stuck into a grapevine wreath; the effect is warm and golden, she says.
Ms. Jensen, whose latest book, "Autumn Accents" (published by Landauer Books) gives ideas on easily made harvest decorations, also suggests putting a basket of apples on the front porch or doorsteps. Maybe chair painted in one of fall's colors, including yellow, orange, brown or gold.
An alternative to a basket of apples could be a colorful container of yellow or orange mums.
On the cover of Ms. Jensen's book is a copper canning boiler filled with water, maple leaves and a dozen floating orange candles.
"It's about using what is in nature and what you have in your house," Ms. Jensen says. "Decorating for fall doesn't have to be difficult or complicated."
• • •
This also is a good time to spruce up the garden with some fall-colored tree, bush and flower plantings, says Homestead Gardens horticulturist Robyn Affron.
"Japanese maples and regular maples are just beautiful, as are ornamental grasses," Ms. Affron says.
Mums in orange, red and yellow as well as sedums and asters, are all favorites among customers, she says. They can be planted before the ground freezes.
Asters have the added benefit of being a late-season nectar source, which means they attract butterflies, Ms. Affron says.
For those who live in apartments or condos and don't have yards, container planting can be an option, she adds. On display at the store is a sprouty and full-bodied container arrangement with English ivy, Muhlenbergia grass, juniper twigs and chrysanthemums.
"The advantage is that you can put the container on a patio or balcony, or you can bring it in closer to your house to enjoy," Ms. Affron says.
Area nurseries also carry plenty of fall-colored sun-loving plants, such as the tropical croton, which can be enjoyed in the yard until it freezes, which is when it has to be brought inside.
Another fall-decorating staple straw can be used to make scarecrows and basket arrangements.
• • •
Inside the home, popular fall decorating schemes include dried flower arrangements and tabletop features such as tablecloths, napkins and candles in yellow, orange, purple and gold.
"I think scents say as much about a season as colors," Ms. Jensen says. "Candles are great both visually and scentwise."Candles come in scents that include cinnamon and pumpkin, which evoke a holiday atmosphere, she says.
Ms. Jensen also suggests boiling mulling spices on the stove and doing any type of baking that will fill the house with spicy smells: "caramel corn and anything with ginger or cinnamon; ginger snaps or baked apples," she says.
Lighting is also important at this time of year, Ms. Jensen says.
"I like to tuck small lamps into bookshelves or set them in groupings on a sideboard," she says. "In every room, I turn on a little lamp. They all radiate soft lighting, 15 up to 40 watts."
Much of what is grown outside in the yard can be dried such as hydrangeas that turn bronze-colored as they dry and taken inside for fall arrangements.
"The magic is in bringing the outdoor elements in and indoor elements out," Mr. Daly says.
Besides laying dried and fresh flowers in baskets, Ms. Jensen also adds antique objects into the arrangement.
"I use what looks good, rather than being too concerned with what it is," she says. "I have tucked in antique pin cushions and antique sewing equipment in arrangements."
Pumpkins and gourds, which come in many sizes and imaginative shapes, are popular features in basket and bowl arrangements. Some popular types include gooseneck, apple and sage-colored gourds.
Changing pillow covers from the pastels of summer to the rustier, deeper colors of fall, as well as laying an orange or purple throw on a couch or bed, also helps create that fall feel, Ms. Jensen says.
"I actually like my decorations to be a backdrop," she says. "Color will get the season across, without hitting you over the head."
• • •
Conveniently, many fall decorations make the transition into Thanksgiving, and some things even last through Christmas and beyond, Ms. Jensen says.
The dried flowers can make it for months, as can many of the wreaths, with a little sprucing.
Take out some of the yellow, orange and purple features and tuck in some red berries and pine cones and, voila, the arrangement or wreath says "Christmas," Ms. Jensen says.
Orange pumpkins used in the fall decorating scheme should be removed at Thanksgiving, while white and sage-colored ones of various sizes can remain on display through Christmas, Ms. Jensen says.
"[Gourds] have been cultivated to be very long-lasting. They have lasted until spring. And during Christmas, they look great with greens and berries," Ms. Jensen says.
Finally, decorating for any season should not be an intimidating or complicated task, she says. In much of her decorating, she uses items she already has in her home, whether they are flowers from her garden, antiques from her bookshelves or bowls from her kitchen.
"One of my greatest fall displays was an old apothecary jar filled with ginger snaps, ginger cookies and candy corn," Ms. Jensen says. "It doesn't get much simpler."

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