By October 14, 2013 Read More →

California Gardening with a Southern Accent


By Erin Houghton – Hello and welcome to my new column on California gardening with a Southern Accent. I am a North Carolina native living in Southern California, and will be sharing with you how I brought my N.C. roots, and love for the South and its lovely traditions, with me to my garden and tips on how you can do the same, no matter where you live.

September days are growing shorter and there is a slight hint of Fall in the air as we quietly move into autumn. The South is legendary for hospitality, warmth, and a feeling of genuine welcome.  What better way to start creating an autumn welcome as the season changes than starting with the garden gate, front porch, and front door.


A few simple additions and the addition of a few pots of seasonal flowers, pumpkins, and scarecrows by the garden entrance set the tone and says “Welcome Autumn.” My scarecrow, dressed in her finest fall outfit and vintage Rocket bicycle, is ready to greet the new season.


One does not have to have a large porch or grand door to create a welcome space. As example, my front porch is small. However, I make the most of its size and easily slip into a new season by making a few simple changes.  The first thing I do is completely clear off the porch and then start adding seasonal charm.



Mums are an inexpensive and beautiful way to add touches of Fall color. The addition of pumpkins, that can be purchased at your local market or Farmer’s market, add inviting touches of welcome.  Scarecrows and bird houses add a fun touch of whimsy. For the front door I purchased an inexpensive wreath and embellished it with faux Fall leaves and flowers.


Southern seasonal traditions are something that I treasure and brought with me to California. One that I brought with me from the South was sharing the season’s bounty with friends.  I have fond memories as a child of my family visiting dear friends who were great cooks and entertainers.  They always had a festive basket on the front porch loaded with homemade jams, apple butter and treats to welcome guests and announce the season and no one left their home empty handed.

27I wanted to keep the tradition going and created a tradition in my garden to welcome guests – my “Welcome Wagon”. I park my old vintage red wagon on the front porch and fill it with the pots of Mums or simple jars of flowers picked from my garden for guests to take on their way out. The welcome wagon is decorative and guests love it.  You can also use a big basket, large tin bucket, or any container on your porch.  Fill it with all sorts of items that will welcome your guests to your Autumn garden.


I purchase small pots of Mums in a variety of colors and then replant them in terra cotta pots, tied with a colorful ribbon. I also add tiny pumpkins to give to young visitors.


Bentley, my Studio Assistant, is always on hand to welcome guests.


Instructions to paint your own Welcome scarecrow sign can be found on my blog – under Art 101.



Southern Guide to Life ~ Erin HoughtonErin Houghton is a regular contributor to Southern Guide to Life.  She is an artist, photographer, gardener and owners of She has been featured in numerous national publications and her art has been featured, and exhibited, both nationally and internationally. To find out more visit Follow her on Pinterest. Visit her on Facebook. Shop her  Online Store.

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