What’s the first thing you do when you return home from a trip? Most gardeners will immediately head outside to see what has changed even before they unpack and I’m no exception.


Tiger Eyes sumac anchors the container in the foreground while connecting the eye to the distant golden locust trees, katsura and swathe of black eyed Susan. Small accents of silver and blue cool the seasonal palette. Fall has begun.

It’s amazing what a difference 10 days makes. While Georgia was hot and somewhat humid with tropical end-of-summer storms, Seattle is now experiencing cooler night temperatures and the start of the glorious fall foliage display.

This is the first fall season that I have been able to enjoy our new patio and adjacent planting beds and I have been delighted with the effect. The color palette of these smaller beds echoes that of the distant border, creating a transition to the larger landscape while the container strategically placed in the foreground establishes a focal point to be viewed from the kitchen window and the patio. Plants in the smaller bed are scaled down in size and quantity but the focus is still very much on putting foliage first before layering in some floral accents.


From this vantage point the cluster of river birch joins in the foliage party while the woodland beyond provides a green backdrop to show off the fiery sumac. This scene will continue to evolve as autumn transitions to winter; an ever changing kaleidoscope of color.

Simple tricks often work best.

(If you’d like to learn more about the design strategies of this space and see before & after images click here).

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7 thoughts on “Transitions

  1. Jeanne cronce

    Yes! I got home from being away for 16 days and I stayed in the gardens for quite awhile! I smelled the dirt, my creative thought process got turned back on and recognized so much growth. It’s so good to be home!

  2. Deborah

    Karen, you are such a talented garden designer. Such a beautiful garden. The color combinations are just stunning. If this was my garden I would have a hard time leaving it.

    1. Karen Chapman Post author

      Let’s just say the house cleaning takes second place in peak gardening season! We did an extra window this year so we can enjoy even more f the garden from indoors though. Thanks for your kind words

  3. Sue Thompson

    Can you tell me what kind of planter the Tiger eye Sumac is in? And how long will it survive in a planter?

    1. Karen Chapman Post author

      This is a fiberglass planter 2′ x 2′ x 2′. It will survive indefinitely in the planter; certainly 5 years without any problems and undoubtedly much longer although I may want to do something different eventually

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