Gardening Blog

A Christmas pickle?

pickleThe 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!

Highlights from the Evergreen Festival

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.

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, bows, etc.

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.

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.

Guest blog: Gnome and garden

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

(Gnorman was also featured in our holiday gift guide!)

Tweeting houseplants

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.

add2_botanicalls_plant_twitter_kit_inplantSo 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!

My new fave: The pincushion flower

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!

pincushion

Plants with curls

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!

Yucca tendrils

Yucca tendrils

Pumpkin tendrils

Pumpkin tendrils

Visit the Evergreen Festival November 18-19 for holiday decorating ideas

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.

The image on the promotional postcard was part of Elaine's spread in the November issue of Style at Home.


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My royal tulips and a big fall cleanup

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!

Two products that will make your life easier next spring

Yesterday Karina (Canadian Gardening magazine's associate editor) and I met with Brent McHenry from Fiskars. Brent made his annual visit to our office to show us what's new for 2010. We started with the crafty stuff — border/corner punches, scissors for crafting and dressmaking, and more. Craft stores make me SO happy, so having a private preview was pretty cool. Then we moved on to what's new in gardening. The highlights for me were the following two products: the Momentum reel mower and the Sit & Store

What's interesting about this mower compared to other reel mowers is that the blade will last way longer -- there is no metal on metal contact, so it could be upwards of seven years before you have to sharpen it. This lightweight little number can also work as an edger and is apparently 30 per cent easier to push! The Momentum will be exclusive to Canadian Tire, will retail for about $199 to $220 and will be available in January.

What's interesting about this mower compared to other reel mowers is that the blade will last way longer -- there is no metal on metal contact, so it could be upwards of seven years before you have to sharpen it. This lightweight little number can also work as an edger and is apparently 30 per cent easier to push! The Momentum will be exclusive to Canadian Tire, will retail for about $279 and will be available in January.

I carry a little basket around the yard with my tools, generally a glass of water and sometimes the phone. But what excites me about this cart is I can attach my bucket to the back and lug around bags of dirt and other heavy stuff. The top comes off, too, so you can protect your knees while you dig in the dirt!

I carry a little basket around the yard with my tools, generally a glass of water and sometimes the phone. But what excites me about this cart is I can attach my bucket to the back and lug around bags of dirt and other heavy stuff. The top comes off, too, so you can protect your knees while you dig in the dirt!

My garden fail!

A couple of weeks ago, I enthusiastically gave the flowers I planted in my garden this year almost straight A's in a little gardening report card. This was not only a fun exercise to reflect on the season, it will also help me remember what to consider for next year. Sadly, I have a garden `fail` to add. I was very excited about finding some mid-sized cedars this spring to go along my back fence. For some reason one of them completely died on me… I'm still not sure what I did wrong. But next year, whatever I choose to plant in its place will be coddled and very well taken care of.

My sad little cedar

My sad little cedar

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