It was the end of the tour. We had seen magnificent fall foliage throughout the Niagara Falls area, including near the cataract itself, on Goat Island, along the gorge at Whirlpool State Park (shown here) and in the charming villages of Youngstown and Lewiston.

It was time for lunch. As we approached  a restaurant known for its stunning views of the lower Niagara River, I tried to ignore the pathetic (and unnecessary) attempt at autumnal decoration that had been randomly placed on the entranceway steps. I couldn’t, though.

There were four or five plastic containers of mums, most well past whatever prime they may have had. One (shown above) was so bad I couldn’t imagine what the flowers had looked like when they were viable.

There was just no need and I’d question the need for these in just about any situation. For one thing, most appear to be a big waste of money. They seem to be bred to produce big, dense clumps of flowers that begin to decay as soon as they’re brought home from the big box store. I suppose garden centers and nurseries might do better, but even if the flowers last, the stiff, awkward plants look like they may as well be made out of plastic – at least to me. 

There are so many alternatives. First, have trees. Autumn foliage frames and beautifies home exteriors infinitely better than a few mums on the steps. Second, have shrubs and perennials with fall color, as so many have. I’m loving the various effects of Japanese maples, Boston ivy, amsonia, viburnum (above) and hydrangea (below) around my property at this time and I haven’t even tried for fall color in my plant choices. 

Third – and most fun -go all in for Halloween. This will last for weeks and it can be anything you want it to be. Though excess seems to work the best. I would rather see animatronic skeletons than mums any day of the week. There is a free-wheeling ease about Halloween decor – which has legit folk roots – that December’s holiday decor lacks, burdened as it is with the extra stress of that holiday. 

But by all means, if you live anywhere near areas with spectacular fall foliage, get to them now. It’s one of the best years I have ever seen.