Our Northern neighbors have traded in their summer gardening tools to rake autumn leaves, piling—and jumping into—mountains of orange, ochre, gold and magenta. At West Villages, with the humidity dipping, we fall into our own seasonal palette.

“The coming months bring us a time-traveler’s view of Florida,” says the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ll see our native plants, those that grew here before Ponce de León found us in 1513, put on their biggest show: lavender, crimson and golden blooms and berries.”

West Villages is surrounded with lush landscapes—that’s why we’re here, nestled on the edge of the stunning Myakka River State Park, Florida’s oldest and largest state park, featuring a field of coreopsis, an Instagram-worthy wildflower of eye-popping yellow. Fall’s the best time to take it all in.

While West Villages’ sumptuous homes boast elegant landscaping, homeowners in the award-winning community’s nine neighborhoods may want to try their green thumbs with color-filled flora that thrive in South Florida’s autumn. Those include pansies; snowy white or electric blue lobelia; snapdragons, kale, ornamental peppers and dianthus; and trailing petunias of purple, pink, white and yellow to color your patio or porch.

Which brings us to a few decorating tips perfect for the area’s Tropical Savannah/Humid Subtropical climate:

Pumpkins. Fall without a pumpkin is like the holidays without a poinsettia—both native plants. Paint an indigenous Seminole pumpkin a bright gold or try your hand at marbling one, even though such electrifying hues buck 2019’s trends. Today’s home décor colors lean toward dark green, terracotta, mushroom, denim blue and pastels. Whatever color you decide, gourds make long-lasting ornaments, pre-Halloween or post-, inside or outside.

Wreaths. When your flowers bloom, twist them into a ring of twigs your kids find in nearby parks. Use Spanish moss—another native—to fill in the gaps. For a more-Florida feel, decorate your wreath with colorful fruits such as pomegranate and citrus—an alternative to Northerners’ autumn apple harvest.

Buckets and baskets: Florida is famous for flea markets and artisanal boutiques. You’re bound to find rustic containers, antique buckets, pots and barrels, even an old wheelbarrow. Click here for a list of markets and crafts stores, from Punta Gorda to North Port to Venice to Sarasota, all within 30 miles of West Villages.

Botanical gardens. If you’d prefer to leave the gardening and fall decorating to others, take advantage of a blooin’ fall stroll. Visit Sarasota’s acclaimed Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which bills itself as a living museum, or the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Garden happens to open its season in October.

To learn more about how to plant your roots and grow Life Your Way, visit of West Villages’ Model Home Centers, which are listed here along with an information request form, or call the Home Buyers Information Line at 941-960-7805.