Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas card

May you be surrounded by
 those you love this holiday season
and find peace and joy in your garden
 during the coming New Year


Please feel free to copy the photo above and paste it into any emails you send to your friends. It may not show up in the body of the message, but as an attachment, depending on your email program. Try it! (We’ve given the copyright police a week off for the holidays.)

Stay safe and warm!

(Note: The wreath above started out as just plain spruce. I added variegated arborvitae, variegated holly, seeded eucalyptus, pine cones with glitter and a big red bow.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Frosty Morning

Jack Frost visited my garden last night. I was beginning to worry that he had forgotten all about me. It’s already mid-December and I haven’t seen any sign of him. Until now, that is.

Hoar frost on white pine

When I awoke this morning, the white pine in my back border looked as if it had been flocked like an indoor Christmas tree. In fact all of the evergreens had been touched with Jack's frosty brush.
Frost on Yukon Blue spruce

Frost on weeping white spruce

Jack didn't play favorites, though. Oh no. He spread his magic around the garden, from the tallest tree....

Frost on crabapple branches the perennials...
Frost on coneflower foliage

Frosty foliage

...and the grasses as well.
Frost on Prairie Dropseed foliage

But Jack's magic didn't last long.  By midday, the sun had melted all traces of his visit much to my dismay. Here’s hoping you come back soon, Jack. The garden is waiting.

By Karen Geisler

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Gardener's Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the yard,

Not a plant was left standing, the ground it was hard.
The tools were all hung in the garage with care
A well deserved rest now that the garden was bare.

The bulbs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of springtime danced in their heads,
I in my Snuggie, my husband with our cat
Had just settled in for a long winter’s chat.

When out in the hydrangeas there arose such a clatter,
I dropped my seed catalogs to see what was the matter.
Away to the front door I quickly dashed,
Half expecting to find my yard had been trashed.

When I opened the door, it was suddenly clear.
Here was a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer
With a little old gardener so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

More quickly than crabgrass his coursers they came
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

“Now Holly! Now Ivy! Now Daisy and Rue!
On Rose, On Petunia, Fern and Lily too!
To the top of the trellis! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

So up to the housetop the reindeer they flew
With a sleighful of gifts and St. Nicholas too.

I closed the front door and was turning around
When he slid down the chimney, hitting the ground.
He was dressed all in red, with Wellies on his feet,
And a poinsettia on his cap made him look really neat.

He stood up quite quickly and went straight to his work
With a composter for Cathy, a Dutch weeder for Dirk.

There were asters for Ann, a pine tree for Paul
And a garden design book for use by us all.
Next came a rain barrel. This was for Rob.
And finally, for me, a ginkgo key fob.

Then laying a trowel aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He ran to his sleigh and gave a quick whistle
And away they all flew like the seeds of globe thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all gardeners and to all a good night.”

(With apologies to Clement Clark Moore)

By Karen Geisler

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Greens

This was done by a professional but you can (and should) try this at home.

Nothing says Christmas to me like fresh evergreens. Having them in a pot near the front door or putting a fresh wreath on the front door provides great color, great texture and a heavenly scent.

I’m no Martha Stewart, but I love decorating a front door wreath differently each year. I’ll add a plaid ribbon bow one year and a shiny red one the next. My holiday pots also vary from year to year. It’s a good creative outlet once the garden has gone to sleep for the winter. 

Incense cedar
Variegated arborvitae

Some people, of course, prefer artificial trees, wreaths and other greens. I realize this works better for some people inside the house, especially those with allergies. But putting artificial greenery outside, not too far from real evergreens in my entryway garden, somehow just doesn’t seem right to me. To each their own, though.

I started out just using the trimmings from the bottom of our Christmas tree. In recent years, I’ve graduated to a mixture of greens including cedar, incense cedar, variegated arborvitae, blueberry juniper, white pine, Noble fir and/or Douglas fir. (One of my friends insists the latter smells like whiskey!) Each type has its own unique texture.


There’s also a whole host of materials that can add color and texture. These include pine cones, lotus pods, holly, variegated holly, huckleberry (with lovely red tones), eucalyptus, seeded eucalyptus, pepperberries, canella berries, holly berries and even the white tallowberry..

Variegated holly
To add height, you can use curly willow, pussywillows and the wonderfully contorted fantail willow. Plus there's always an old standby -- red dogwood twigs.

Be sure to use plastic pots, either on their own or as a liner. Clay pots can break if the soil in them freezes.

There are a few tricks to using fresh evergreens. Mash the ends of the woody stems as this allows the branches to draw in more water. Then soak the branches overnight in a bucket or other container filled with water. Arrange. Spray with an antidesiccant if the pot will be in an exposed or sunny area.

The final result should carry you into January and possibly beyond. The pots on my covered porch typically last into February, depending on the weather.

I hope you’ll trying using some fresh evergreens on or near your front door this year. It will make your entry uniquely yours.

Happy Holidays!

By Karen Geisler