gardenchatter

Garden adventures and advice…


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Amaryllis

This time of year, amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.) kits just seems to pop up everywhere, so I decided to finally give it a try.

Amaryllis is easy to grow, low maintenance and provides spectacular blooms during the cold, and sometimes dull, days of winter. So until I can get back outside and play, amaryllis bulbs will be my winter garden project.

Now available in a wide range of colors, the amaryllis originated in South Africa where it continues to grow wild in some areas. Back in the 1800s amaryllis bulbs were quite rare and very costly, but over time hybridizers have created a whole new flock of interesting and inexpensive amaryllis bulbs.

All you need to do is plant the bulb in a good, clean potting soil, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. I like this one below. When purchased, it comes complete, ready to plant in a plastic lined burlap “pot” with a bag of both potting soil, and sphagnum moss to add a decorative touch and act like a mulch – a nice gift for those that enjoy gardening.

The second picture shows the bulb slightly sticking up through the centre of the moss.

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Now all I have to do is water it now and again without overdoing it and in a few weeks I’ll have a stunning floral display. I chose Red Lion – not one of the more unique colors, but I love the vibrant, fire-engine red of the flower. In a few weeks, it should look like the one pictured below – I’ll post it’s progress as it grows.

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Keep the amaryllis in a bright spot while growing, but avoid direct sunlight when blooming. Don’t place them in a south facing window; the heat may scorch the plants.

Here’s a few interesting amaryllis flowers:

Samba                                                       Lemon Lime                                    Misty

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Amputo                                                   Monte Carlo                                        Orange

                                                                                                                                     Sovereign

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Christmas Decorating for Gardeners

A number of my gardening friends have been sharing their ideas for decorating and keeping the garden theme going all through the holidays – here’s a few thoughts…

Think about the garden when setting your Christmas table. For a simple centerpiece, add small ornaments to rosemary plants, or the miniature trees that are available this time of year. Or create an original arrangement using clippings from the garden – branches from different evergreens and holly bushes, dogwood, birch twigs, pinecones and acorns. Add sprigs of berries or greenery to the base of candleholders or tapers. Create garden themed place-card holders with small clay pots, wrapped in raffia or ribbon, complete with herb seed packs and a name card in the pot or purchase small herb plants from a garden centre for each dinner guest, inserting a card in the foliage. Wrap up cutlery and napkins with raffia or ribbon and tuck in a sprig of fresh greenery, thyme or rosemary.

Glass bowls or vases full of brightly decorated pine cones are easy and fun to create.  Roll the cones in glue, and then in coloured glitter flakes – the glitter will stick to the glue along the edges of the cone, giving the cone a frosty look. Spray paint the cones gold, silver or a metallic shade that compliments your own holiday décor. Or spray paint the cone white. When it dries, roll it in glue and then glitter, giving the cone a snowy look. Place metallic beads between the open scales of the cone, holding them in place with a spot of hot glue. Add sprigs of berries or greens for added colour and place the decorated cones in a variety of glass containers for an interesting table arrangement or centerpiece.

Brighten up your houseplants for Christmas. If your houseplants are already in decorative containers, add bows or ribbon to the plant for a festive look. Cover simple pots with bright Christmas wrap, foil or fabric to dress them up for the holidays. Taller, sturdier houseplants or small trees are strong enough to hold a small string of lights or small ornaments.

Use old garden tools to decorate the gardeners Christmas tree. Collect old hand tools from garage sales and thrift stores, and spray paint them with colours that compliment your own holiday décor and will stand out against the dark green foliage of the tree. Tie velvet bows around the handles and hang on the heavy branches of the tree or place them on branches within the foliage. Decorate small watering cans with holly sprigs and greens, and add ribbon, raffia, berries and holly sprouts to small clay pots to hang from the tree. Finish the gardener’s tree off with seed packets carefully saved from summer planting, or new ones – attached a loop of velvet ribbon and hang throughout the tree.

When creating your outside arrangement, consider using a potted tree that can be planted in the garden when the warm weather returns. Fill the tree with bright lights, and enjoy it right through the winter season.

Happy Holiday Decorating!

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Outdoor Decorating

I just had to share this stunning and easy to create outdoor arrangement that my friend Joyce made. Two of these beautiful planters greet visitors as they make their way to the coordinating front door. And while these planters are great for the holiday season, they will keep your entryway bright and colorful until the early spring bulbs appear once again.

Here’s how she does it – “Cut about a dozen evergreen branches (cedar & pine) and red dogwood branches to 3-4′ lengths (if you don’t have these growing in your garden, they are available to purchase most places). Note: if you trim your dogwood early, the new growth will be bright red and long enough to use, older growth is darker red. Arrange the evergreen on the bottom (with the cut ends hidden in the centre), then push the dogwood branches into the ground as a backdrop. Add 6″ red and silver Christmas ornaments and tack 2 balls in each planter with tent pegs. Include some frosted pine cones, a couple of sprigs of silver branches, and a large red mesh bow.”

Use your imagination. With the wide range of decorations and colors available today this could be created in practically any color scheme.

Happy Decorating!