Fall ensemble

Arrange a spectacular fall display in the garden
Lauren Bonar Swezey

In smoldering shades of orange, yellow, and burgundy, leaves are the first heralds of autumn. To reflect the spectacle, container-design specialist Jean Manocchio filled a trio of pots with plants that have foliage and flowers in fall colors.

The centerpiece of the middle container is Phormium 'Platt's Black', a 3- to 4-foot-tall New Zealand flax. Its strappy, deep burgundy leaves form a stunning focal point in the midst of yellow gloriosa daisies and 'Profusion Orange' zinnias. Loropetalum 'Plum Delight' spills from two of the pots, echoing the color of the flax.

To complement the plants, Manocchio chose Southeast Asian-style containers in muted colors.

Plant palette

A. Phormium 'Platt's Black': 1 plant, 5- or 15-gal. size.

B. Loropetalum 'Plum Delight': 3 plants, 1- or 5-gal. size.

C. Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta): 10 plants, 4-in. or 1-gal. size.

D. Zinnia 'Profusion Orange': 12 plants, 4-in. size.

E. Creeping fig (Ficus pumila): 2 plants, 4-in. or 1-gal. size.

Planting tip: Fill containers with potting soil mixed with a controlled-release fertilizer.

In mild-winter areas, the daisies and zinnias will bloom until late fall. Afterward, remove them and substitute cool-season bloomers in pink or purple shades to coordinate with pink Loropetalum flowers, which appear in spring. In Sunset climate zones 4-6, protect plants from freezing weather by placing pots under an overhang or in a frost-free area.

In cold areas (zones 1-3), enjoy these plants until a hard freeze hits; they aren't hardy enough to survive the winter.

Design: Jean Manocchio, Belli Fiori, Redwood City, CA (650/364-4043)