Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I am out of town this week and very thankful to be visiting with extended family that I don't get to see often enough.  I wish everyone safe travels this holiday season and a very blessed Christmas and New Years' to all of you and your families!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Blooms and... Bees?!

Well, it's now the middle of December.  Here in Massachusetts that surely means it's getting cold out there.  Winter coats and boots have been brought out and snow blowers and shovels made ready for the very real possibility of snow in time for Christmas...

Or not.

The weather this December has been so mild that I could almost call it balmy.

My new Helleborus niger 'Jacob' is in bloom and attracting the pollinators that are out and about in this unusually warm weather.

While I still have some Alyssum and even Yarrow still holding on to blooms, it is the new flowers of this early blooming Hellebore that are the most enticing for the pollinators.

This one's mine!
I am quite surprised to have flowers blooming and bees buzzing in December...

but after last year's record-breaking winter,
I'm definitely not complaining!

Happy gardening!

To find out what else is blooming in other people's gardens around the world this December, visit Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

DIY Outdoor Winter Containers

I am no floral designer.  When it comes to arranging vases and containers and the like, I know very little.  However, I am a member of a garden club that has quite a few floral designers, and I have enjoyed learning at least some basic 'tools of the trade' from them - just enough, anyway, to be able to turn my two whiskey barrel planters into proper-looking holiday winter containers this year. (woohoo!)

my holiday winter whiskey barrel container
The containers were fairly easy and quick to assemble.  Most of my time was spent in tramping through our woods surreptitiously cutting branches from trees where Mr. Red House wouldn't notice.  (He has a thing about trees.)  I ended up used four different types of evergreens, some spray-painted branches, ball ornaments, ribbon, floral foam, floral picks, and a couple wire hangers to make them.

Anyone who has done any floral designs or who is more crafty than me might know about floral foam, but for me, a newbie, it was a revelation.  Ah, this is the magic behind it all!  I used wet floral foam, often sold under the brand Oasis, as I want my greens to last as long as possible.  I just stuck two brick of wet foam on top of each container, securing them to the soil by sticking a piece cut from a wire hanger down into the middle of it.

Some notes about floral foam for fellow newbies: there is wet floral foam and dry floral foam, and you could probably use either here.  You can find them at pretty much any arts and crafts store.  To use the wet kind, fill up your sink with water and just set the foam blocks on top of the water.  They will slowly absorb the water and sink to the bottom.  (It is good to do it this way as opposed to just dunking them into the water to avoid getting air bubbles in it.)  After it is wet, it is easy to cut if you need to cut it down to your container size.

The one drawback with the wet floral foam is that it is not good to keep putting stuff in it and then taking it back out, as it will start to crumble.  So you want to have a good idea about what you are going to put in it and where before you start.  Dry floral foam can be more forgiving.

I first stuck white pine branches in a ring around my whisky barrels, as it was what I had the most of and it spilled nicely over the edges.

After a bottom layer of white pine, I started to layer my other greens (fir, Hinoki cypress, and boxwood), sticking them into the sides of the floral foam.

Then I placed my tall "thriller" pieces: branches cut from shrubs out in my woods that I spray-painted white.  (Thank you, Karen, of Quarry Garden Stained Glass blog, who was my inspiration.  She is the spray-painting queen of containers!)

I picked white because that was the spray paint I happened to have, but I think red or even silver or gold would have looked quite nice in these containers.  After that I stuck many of the small pieces of evergreens into the top of the foam to fill it up and hide the foam.  Then came the decorations to give it some color!

The second trick I learned this year was to use wooden floral picks.  Also found at any arts and crafts store, they come in a variety of sizes, and it makes it a cinch to attach ornaments, pinecones, lengths of ribbon, or whatever else you need to the arrangement.  Just attach the decoration onto the wire end and then stick the wooden pick into the floral foam.

And viola!

I hope this helps any floral arranging newbies like myself!  Happy gardening...

...or in this case, happy decorating!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...