{ Posts Tagged ‘christmas’ }

Gift idea: Plant green

Evergreen’s Give Green, Be Green holiday gift program is amazing! I’d love to give this to a fellow gardener or eco-minded pal.

Check out the Plant Green category. You can have a native sapling planted in a Canadian city or a pollinator garden planted in a public park or school; you can adopt an apple tree and Evergreen will share the fruit with a community in need or have a community garden planted in an urban space. It’s so simple: You donate and Evergreen does all the dirty work (quite literally). Your recipient will receive an e-card letting them know that a donation has been made in their name (and you get to avoid the hectic shopping mall – talk about a win-win).

Other categories include Play Green, Build Green and Eat Green.

To see how these gifts make for greener cities, check out the Plant Green video. Visit givegreenbegreen.ca for more information and to purchase your green gift.

‘Tis the season for holiday plants

With Remembrance Day behind us and Halloween firmly in the past, it is time for many of us to get into the full swing of all things Christmas.

I’ve got my poinsettia going, and my baby rosemary plants are putting on new growth. Now it’s time to try something else: forcing bulbs.

I’ve never grown an amaryllis or anything like that, but this year I thought I’d try paperwhites. I’m a die hard daffodil fan, so these cousins (Narcissus papyraceus) aren’t too far outside my comfort zone.

The little gift pack I stumbled across at Walmart for five bucks actually came with a pot and a disk of compressed coir, but many people plant the bulbs in a dish of water topped up with pebbles or marbles for stability. My kit says to plant them six weeks before you want blooms; most people on the Interweb say three weeks, so I’m doing it today and we’ll see.

I decided to ditch the coir and pot that came with the kit and do something prettier.

I put a shallow layer of stones in this (plastic-lined) dish, placed the bulbs, then covered them up to their "shoulders" in more stones and added just enough water to keep their bottoms wet.

I did find an intriguing tip for keeping blooming paperwhites from getting top-heavy –get them ever so slightly drunk. But as to why paperwhites are thought of as a Christmas flower, I couldn’t find any clues other than they bloom in December in warm climates. There doesn’t seem to be any special symbolism.

Poinsettias symbolized purity to the ancient Aztecs, and there’s the usual holly and ivy to represent eternity and resurrection. Evergreen trees fall into the same category. But amaryllis? Christmas Rose (Serissa or Helleborus, depending on who you ask)? Christmas cactus? We just seem to be looking for something alive and lovely in the dark winter months.

Fair enough. We were pretty excited when Chris got a zygocactus (Schlumbergera) blooming again.

Rosemary babies in the background!

At least, he’s the one who rescued the poor little guy. It was languishing in a corner after being relocated during the ever-present renovations, and he moved it to his studio where it gets bright, indirect light. He’s taking full credit for the transformation; I think he accidentally did exactly what it needed. 

But I’m not complaining. It’s pretty exciting to have so many things growing when there’s carols on the radio and four inches of snow.

Houseplant for the holidays: Norfolk Island pine

Have you seen them yet?

They show up every year right about now, with glossy bright green foliage that could capture the heart of any gardener entering GSW (Growing Season Withdrawal). Looking for all the world like miniature, limey-er Christmas trees, Norfolk Island pines are often sold in pots in North America, though back home in the South Pacific they grow to be proper, full-on trees. Not a true pine, Araucaria heterophylla has softer ‘needles’ and a somewhat droopy habit reminiscent of cedars or–dare I say it–palm trees. Its unique blend of familiar and exotic elements, combined with its sheer aliveness whilst everything else is going to sleep, make it an easy sell at the Walmart checkout.

I, in my short but illustrious career, have already killed two. One succumbed to either too much water or too little light, the other I’m quite certain disapproved of the cold draft it got every time someone opened the front door. My sister kept one out of drafts, in bright, indirect light, with infrequent watering, and it lived for ages as one of the happiest, loveliest houseplants you could wish for.

I am determined to try again. Third time’s the charm?

 

Christmas inspiration for next year courtesy of Quebec City

I was in Quebec City for the Quebec Winter Carnival last weekend and the last thing I expected to see while exploring the snowy streets was inspiration for CanadianGardening.com. But Christmas is alive and well in this gorgeous old city – I imagine they’ve left the decorations up until the carnival ends – so I snapped a bunch of pictures to inspire next year’s holiday crafting extravaganza.

See? Christmas! Without the stress of hunting for presents.

This establishment used terra cotta pots as part of all their arrangements. Here they have painted the rims and tied them to a windowbox of sticks. They created an arbour using the same design.

Here they've tied wee terra cotta pots to a pinecone wreath. If I were to recreate this I'd take it a step further by adding something to the pots for colour.

I loved how they've perched this cute little owl atop some pine bows and birch logs. A little paint and some lights add colour and the snow looks like it was deliberately placed in just the right spots.

Terra cotta is traded for metal pots full of berries in front of Le Cochon Dingue - probably the best place I ate lunch while I was in Quebec City.

The stone facade, the colourful paint. This quaint little building looks like it belongs in a fairy tale.

Happy holidays fellow budding gardeners!

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!

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!

Eau de Christmas tree

One of my favourite parts about Christmas is finding my tree. Its scent evokes so many warm memories of my childhood, so I look forward to choosing that perfect pine (or fir or spruce) every year. When we were little, we used to go to a cut-your-own farm. This often resulted in my father having to cut off the top–or string it somehow to the ceiling–so it would fit in the house and stand up on its own.

Now that I'm in the city, my trees are a little more modest in size, but I still love walking in the door after a long day at work, breathing in the heady scent and gazing at the lights over a hot cup of tea.

If you still need to grab a tree before the big day, check out Shelagh McNally's guide to choosing the perfect tree.