Stylish Fall Container Plantings

September 28, 2018

Text by Marni Elyse Katz    Photography by Michael David Wilson


Skip autumnal-tone blooms in favor of plants in any (and every) shade of green.

When it comes to plants, Stephanie Pilk tends toward the wild. The creative director of Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, Maine, likes to combine plants of varying types and textures in a single vessel. Does she like a unified color palette? Maybe, maybe not. “I am not a purist,” she confesses.

Pilk, who found her way to garden design through art, fashion, and film, is going into her fifth year at Snug Harbor Farm. She handles workshops, private events, retail buying, and merchandising, imbuing nearly every aspect of the business with a style that’s just the right blend of rugged and refined.

For fall, she favors earthy terracotta pots planted with a mix of greens, including wispy grasses, structural succulents, and leafy greens. For would-be gardeners interested in creating their own vignettes, Pilk advises analyzing the area in order to choose containers and plants in appropriate sizes and shapes. “Look at the proportion of your space and build accordingly,” she says.

To fill a vertical area, grasses are a great way to get height and movement. “They bloom strong and hard through the first frost,” she explains, “then dry in place, evolving into a whole different sculptural accent.” For a more structural component, go for agave. Many types of sedum will trail prettily over a container’s edges. And, of course, there are also hardy edibles, such as kale and tricolor sage. “It’s fall,” Pilk reminds us. “Think of the harvest!”


Snug Harbor Farm, Kennebunk, Maine,


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