Summer might be over, but that doesn’t mean everything green should turn brown. Exposure to natural life drastically ups your physical and mental health, research shows-and that’s crucial when you start spending more time indoors. If you’re not sure where to start, let Adam Dooling, curator of outdoor gardens and herbaceous collections for the New York Botanical Garden, show you how to work with what you’ve got.
A Sunny Ledge
Small lair, don’t care! Go for an herb garden, placing pots of thyme, rosemary, and sage near a south-or west-facing window. Trim the plants evenly and often to keep them from becoming leggy (too many stems, not enough leaf bunches), then use the cuttings to brighten a salad or roast. Or get creative: Let the sprigs dry, then tie them into bunches as a wrapping ornament for gifts.
A Large Window or Patio
Buy a window box or patio container, then fill it with fragrant pansies, asters, and ornamental grasses (like switch grass or little bluestem). All flourish in cooler fall temps, and “grasses hit a colorful peak in the fall and provide food for birds,” says Dooling. Found: your new Zen zone.
Lucky you! Sow rows of lettuce, kale, or cabbage: They’ll grow until hard frost hits, especially if you regularly take (and eat) the younger leaves. Thinking bigger? Plant a tree that can grow in your climate now, when the ground is soft, to offer shade-and, depending on which type you choose, feed you too (cherries, anyone?).
Sisterhood of The Traveling Plants
When cared for properly, ‘many houseplants live forever. Common varieties (like jade) are typically easy to propagate—which means taking a leaf or stalk and nurturing it into a brand new plant So if you’re moving, call your local botanical garden for specific tips for each of your greens, snip what you need, and give your OGs to friends as a parting token. Then get ready to enjoy parenting your born-again plant babies in your fresh digs.