Here’s How to Spruce Up Your Entryway for Fall

A garden designer shares tips and tricks.

Photo courtesy of Winston Flowers

There’s nothing wrong with potted mums. Really, there isn’t. But when it comes to crafting an eye-catching entryway for autumn, the seasonal standby doesn’t factor into the equation. To figure out how to spruce up a doorstep without the colorful perennials, we tapped Winston Flowers’ creative director of garden design, Matt McKenna, to tell us how the pros do it.

It turns out, a standout entryway starts with container gardens. Flanking your doorway with containers draws your eye to the door, and inserting a mix of autumnal plantings establishes a decidedly fall feel.

“While spring and summer container plantings look best with minimal varieties, in autumn, the plantings take on a richer, abundant, mixed style,” explains McKenna.

When the leaves start to fall and plants begin to lose their flowers, the garden designers at Winston Flowers step away from vibrant palettes and opt for more muted, rusty greenish-brown tones in an effort to parallel to the changes occurring in nature. Most of what McKenna designs mimics natural processes—the focal points of many fall container gardens are plants that have matured to fruits and vegetables, much like what happens in vegetable gardens this time of year.

As temperatures drop, McKenna recommends using hardier cold-weather annuals like ornamental cabbage, kale, peppers, grasses and heucheras. Flowers, he says, should only be used sparingly.

Can’t envision a fall garden without flowers? Peep a few of McKenna’s projects below to see how it’s done.

Photo courtesy of Winston Flowers

For this entryway in Back Bay, McKenna selected plants that can survive with limited sun exposure, which is often required in an urban landscape. He chose shade-tolerant plants that could withstand fluctuating temperatures, including green, non-flowering elements. To add drama to the owners’ containers, McKenna planted ivy and “diamond frost” euphorbia for a touch of flowering white in the box’s under layer.

Photo courtesy of Winston Flowers

For this South End brownstone, McKenna drew inspiration from the home’s ornate door. He selected Winston’s new Domani Boston Pots for the containers, explaining “Their black glaze complements the wrought-iron gate framing the garden.” McKenna chose a mixed planting of rubrum grass, “black pearl” ornamental peppers, heuchera, and red pansies to connect the plants to the red brick.

Photo courtesy of Winston Flowers

At the Via Seaport Residences, McKenna was tasked with filling the building’s existing containers with striking fall plants. He selected ornamental grasses “for a bolder stroke,” he explains, like rubrum grasses (the red plants) and miscanthus grasses (the green plants) accented with red pansies.