Well, my work week is just about done, which means I’ll be taking an indulgence-filled break from being a budding gardener. I just wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We have lots of great gardening tips and ideas planned for 2010. And, as always, welcome your feedback about what you want to see on the site (please leave your comments below).
See you next year!
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has recently created a Tree Atlas. This helpful tool allows you to choose your region on a map and then provides you with a list of trees that will thrive in your area. Each tree’s page features photos, optimal growing conditions and interesting facts. Surf around a bit and you will find there is also lots of helpful information about the environmental importance of trees, as well as Ontario’s pledge to plant 50 million trees by 2020. You can make your own pledge to plant a tree by filling out a special form on the site. My lot is not particularly huge, but once we decide how we’re going to block out the new two-story house going up behind us, I will be ready to make my pledge!
The folks at Canadian Tire hosted a festive ‘Christmas in July’ event back in the summer at their offices. Upon leaving, we got a gift bag of holiday treats featuring some of their products, like NOMA tree lights and a Christmas pickle ornament. I found this last item a little odd until I read on the tag that in Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the tree–said pickle–would be hidden among the boughs and the first child to find it Christmas morning would be blessed with good luck. I wonder if they used a real pickle back then! Needless to say, this little gem is going to my good friend Heather who LOVES dill pickles.
In looking on the Canadian Tire site for my pickle pic, I happened across a neat tool they’ve created that lets you upload a photo of your house so you can try out the different Christmas lights and outdoor ornaments they sell in the store. There is a Christmas tree decorator, as well. And yes, you can see how the pickle might look hanging from your tree!
Last week, I was thrilled to be a part of Elaine Martin aka The Vintage Gardener's Evergreen Festival. I helped Elaine as she demonstrated how easy it is to put together gorgeous holiday urns and I also presented a little session on forcing amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for the holidays.
My assistant editor, Jen Murray, came along to videotape my seminar (which we'll be posting soon!) and we took lots of snaps of Elaine's beautiful holiday fair, some of which I've displayed below.
Fellow gardening writer, Mark Disero, also published his take on the day.
Me posing with a couple of urns that were created during Elaine's presentation.
One of Elaine's gorgeous evergreen carts where you could pick and choose what you wanted to use to create wreaths, urns, garlands, bows, etc.
One of the lovely pots Elaine helped me create as I explained how to force amaryllis bulbs. You can't see them, but they're hiding among the greenery and will grow around the branches in this lovely arrangement.
By Jennifer Murray
Gnomes are a staple of the gardening world–even in the Harry Potter novels, gardens are full of these little troublemakers. Treat them well, and they will guard your precious belongings and help you with chores. Treat them poorly, and they will make mischief whenever possible, including stealing keys, underwear and garden tools.
Why all the gnome talk? We thought ahead for the long, cold months ahead and found a solution for keeping our gardening spirit alive: Gnome and Garden! This handy little kit contains a mini gnome, lawn, flowers, backdrops (Swiss mountain, anyone?) and a book about how to care for your gnome at the office.
The gnome care book recommends naming the gnome (we’re going with Gnorman), greeting your gnome each day and appeasing its lust for mischief with paperclips and other offerings. Paperclips for help with office chores? Count me in…
(Gnorman was also featured in our holiday gift guide!)
Have you ever wondered what you’re houseplants are thinking? Well, thanks to this cool gadget, your houseplant can now tweet. By using Twitter, your houseplant will communicate with you via the Internet. The Botanicalls DIY Plant Twitter Kit easily translates all dialect of ‘houseplant’ to English.
So how does it work? The original breakthrough was made when the chief scientist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) was trying to communicate with a patch of catnip by using a super computer.
“I CAN HAZ TWITTER?” said the plant. This confused the scientist, but his granddaughter was able to figure out that the plant wanted to Tweet! Plant who tweet don’t have much to say, but they do request that you water them and thank you once you have.
Fact or fiction? Who knows, but this fun toy is perfect for a techie gardener who is feeling stir crazy during the long winter months!
It was about a month or so ago that I first laid eyes on the pincushion flower. So when I needed to figure out what I wanted to carry at my wedding (which took place this past weekend), yellow pincushion flowers came to mind not only for their unique beauty, but because I liked the sewing connection, as well. I also ordered some extra to display on the tables at our venue, School Bakery & Cafe. Besides the yellow orbs of the pincushion blooms, I was pretty clueless as to what else I could put with them. Without having an example flower on hand, Helen at Anthi Floral Boutique was so helpful recommending complementary greenery — Jamaica greens and bear grass for the vases and aspidistra for the wedding bouquets. For vases I used Bernardin jars that I got thanks to my Uncle Glenn, and then I tied black raffia around the necks as a finishing touch.
For the bouquets my sister and I carried, we removed the greenery from the lower stem of the pincushion flowers and wrapped them in aspidistra and raffia.
Below is an image of one of my vases. I was very pleased with how they turned out!
Now that my garden is fast asleep, I fulfill my gardening urges by sorting through my garden photos. We all admire plants for their colourful blooms and interesting foliage, but what about their other unique attributes.
Take curls for example. I found these two examples of plants with curls in my garden photos, but I know there are many other plants that showcase these curly tendrils. Of course I admire the plant’s ”whole package’, but sometimes it’s fun to focus on one interesting aspect. So today, it’s all about curls!
I think it was back in September that Elaine Martin from Vintage Gardener asked me to help out with her Evergreen Festival. I happily accepted because I love anything to do with decorating for Christmas. I also really admire Elaine's style, creativity and her entrepreneurial spirit. We first met at a Vintage Gardener event in February that I went to with my mom. As Elaine demonstrated how to force branches and create interesting arrangements, each spring-filled pot was snapped up by a guest before she'd even finished with it!
The Evergreen Festival takes place next Wednesday and Thursday (November 18 and 19) at the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto's Distillery District. There will be a stage with chairs so you can watch holiday decorating presentations by Elaine, Gemini Nominee Ambrose Price and others. I will be presenting a seminar on forcing paperwhites and growing amaryllis!
There will also be a French-style market with flower carts where you can make your own bows from ribbon, wreaths, evergreen miniatures and more! Partial proceeds from the event will be given to the new Ronald McDonald House.
For anyone in the GTA who is interested in attending next week, I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away! Leave a comment below telling me how you use evergreens and other florals to decorate for the holidays. I will randomly draw 5 names on Monday.
The image on the promotional postcard was part of Elaine's spread in the November issue of Style at Home.
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I was way behind on my fall to-dos, but luckily Mother Nature gifted us with a fabulous weekend to finish off those last tasks — putting away the patio furniture, overwintering my pots, cleaning up the gardens and raking (and bagging).
But before I started on the big cleanup, I finally planted the bulbs I bought a few weeks ago (this article said I could)! After reading fellow CanadianGardening.com blogger Anja's piece on bulb planting, I purchased a bulb planter from Sheridan Nurseries. Armed with this handy tool, I dug them all into the ground and cross my fingers the squirrels won’t find them.
I chose my bulbs based on the gorgeous pinks and purples in the package photos. I hope my little royal family of `Purple Princes` and `Pink Emperors` doesn't let me down come spring!