Tag Archive | holiday

Another DIY – Evergreen Holiday Pot in Bucket

After making my gold / brown pot for my front door, my husband loved it so much, he wanted me to make one for his boss. Oakey-dokey! I can do that!!

If you’ve already read my DYI post for my last pot, most of this post is going to be plagiarized from that one… If you don’t want to read how to put this together, just look at the photos =-)

Instead of me using a liner for his pot, as I did not know if he had an existing pot to use, I used a shiny steel bucket. This time I did not have any soil, so I filled the bottom with a few rocks and cut the foam to fit in the bucket. This serves three purposes, better water collection for the greens at first, then for it to freeze the greens in place with little expansion, and lastly, a heavy base so the design won’t fall over in the wind and snow.

First, place your sticks (birch poles here), or the largest diameter things first. You’ll know right away if your foam is going to hold, nothing like making your whole design, and then placing your sticks and busting the foam!! Arrrg! >:-O Yes, I have learned the hard way!

Think about where your pot will be displayed. Will they be on the sides of your door? On top of a pier? On top of your mailbox? Or on just one side of the door, like this one. I set my sticks a bit to one side (the back) of my pot, so more bling can be added to the front and sides. If you’re pot will be able to be viewed from all angles, I’d center them. If you’re having one on either side of your door, I would mirror-image the bling on 3 sides of the pot.

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I like to get a ring around the bottom next, as you can be sure that there is a sufficient amount of greens around the bottom. Again, think of where your pot will be displayed. This one will be on the ground, so it will be viewed by looking down on it. Some folks have piers or taller areas where their pots are going, these pots will need to have a nice lower row, as this is what you may see when viewing up at it. I’m using Scott’s Pine for my bottom. I love this material, as it already has pine cones attached! Don’t worry if it sticks up a bit, as you add more to the center, it will flatten out.

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My next filler is a variegated boxwood. I love the variety of colors it brings to the mix. I’m not a huge fan of a straight green pot, although I can appreciate the simplicity. Don’t fill it to the brim, there needs to be room for other ingredients, and you can always add more boxwood later.

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Next I added some magnolia. It will take up a lot of space, which is always good as you will save on materials because of it. After that comes the eucalyptus and dried hydrangea. I usually harvest these (for free!) from the large limelight we have in the yard at work. If your display will be out in the elements, I would give them a quick spray of clear enamel. This will stick them together and help stop the wind and snow from taking their toll. I also used grape vine balls sprayed lightly with white paint, for some natural-looking balls to bring together the round, flashy ornaments that are the next step.

imageAnd now for the fun part…. the bling! The large balls were ornaments that I removed the hanger from and stuck a stick in the hole. You may need to use hot glue to steady it on the stick. The small ones came in a one-piece clump, which I cut apart. I then added the little silver glitter sticks. Voilà!

I chose to go with a silver / white theme here, as it can stay out past Christmas without looking too tacky. If I had to total my materials here, I’d guess-ta-mate it would be about $50.00 without the pot. Right now, Hobby Lobby has all their Christmas stuff on sale for 50% off! I was also able to pick-up the white/mirrored ornaments at the dollar store, SCORE!!

Happy Creating!!

 

 

 

 

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Thanksgiving: A Day of Mourning

I like to reblog this yearly.

There aren’t just bad people that commit genocide; we are all capable of it. It’s our evolutionary history.

James Lovelock

If you are interested in learning a different story of what happened after the pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock, please read on!

thanks not

Winston S. Churchill — ‘History is written by the victors.’

Those who are indigenous Indians to North America have been misrepresented and effectively banished in American history textbooks in favor of glorifying European colonialism. Why does democracy refuse to teach that thousands of American Native Indians were unjustifiably slaughtered in the name of conquest and imperialism?

From the book The American Tradition.

“After some exploring in 1620, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. Unfortunately, they arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England weather. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving.”

This is what is taught here in the U.S. Some of it is the truth; the Pilgrims did come to America in 1620. Most didn’t survive the first winter because of their lack of stored food and supplies. They did meet Native American Indians. That’s pretty much where the truth ends.

The Wampanoag people did not truly trust whites, having dealt with European fishermen who had enslave or kill them for the past 100 years. However, because it was their culture and religion to help those in need, the Wampanoags took pity on the settlers and helped them. On March 16th, 1621, a Patuxet Indian (neighbors of the Wampanoag) named Samoset met the settlers for the first time. Samoset spoke excellent English, as did Squanto, another bilingual Patuxet because the British had taken them into slavery in the past. Squanto acted as an interpreter for the Wampanoag Indians, led by Chief Massasoit.

The next harvest season, the settlers and Native Tribes agreed to meet for a 3-day negotiation. As the meeting fell during the Wampanoag Harvest Festival, the Native Indian community agreed to bring most of the food for the event. The peace and land negotiations were successful and the Pilgrims acquired the rights of land for their people. This became the base for the Thanksgiving story.

In 1622 propaganda started to circulate about this “First Thanksgiving”. A book called, “Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims in Plymouth” publicized the greatness of Plymouth and told of the meeting as a friendly feast with the Native Indians. The Pilgrims glamorized the situation, possibly in an effort to encourage more Puritans to settle in their area. By stating that the Native Indian community was warm and open-armed, the newcomers would be more likely to feel secure in their journey to New England.

What started as a hope for peace between the settlers and the Wampanoag, ended in the most sad and tragic way. The Pilgrims, once few in number, had now grown to well over 40,000 and the Native American Indian strength had weakened to less than 3,000. Not only did the battles lower their numbers, contagious diseases never seen by the Native Indians were also to blame. By 1675, one generation later, tension had grown between the Europeans and the Native Indians. The Wampanoag called in reinforcements from other surrounding tribes.

Many Native Indian communities throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut rallied with the Wampanoags, but the power of the English was overpowering. After the war was over, the remaining Wampanoags and their allies, were either killed or deported as slaves for thirty shillings each. This slave trade was so successful that several Puritan ship owners began a slave-trading business by raiding the coast for Native American Indians and trading them for black slaves of Africa. The black slaves were then sold to colonists in the south. Hence, the Pilgrims were one of the founders of the American-based slave trading industry.

This is why I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving the same way as in the past. I will still be thankful for my friends and my family. However, I will also remember there’s more than one way to weave a story.

5 Steps to a Fabulous, Blingy Winter Container

I have been bangin’ out winter pots for our clients all week for delivery before Thanksgiving. I will have a post on all of those soon, as they have not been delivered to the clients yet, and they look funny not in their pots! However, if you’re Jonesing for some to look at, you can visit these past posts: 20152014 & 2013.

Instead of me using a liner for my personal pot, I chose the pot I would be displaying my creation in and filled it with 3 floral foams and a 50/50 mixture of topsoil and sand. This serves three purposes, better water collection for the greens at first, then for it to freeze the greens in place with little expansion, and lastly, a heavy base so the design won’t fall over in the wind and snow.

First, place your sticks (birch poles here), or the largest diameter things first. You’ll know right away if your foam is going to hold, nothing like making your whole design, and then placing your sticks and busting the foam!! Arrrg! >:-O Yes, I have learned the hard way!

Think about where your pot will be displayed. Will they be on the sides of your door? On top of a pier? On top of your mailbox? Or in a corner, like mine. I set my sticks a bit to one side (the back) of my pot, so more bling can be added to the front. If you’re pot will be able to be viewed from all angles, I’d center them. If you’re having one on either side of your door, I would mirror-image the bling on 3 sides of the pot.

image     image

I like to get a ring around the bottom next, as you can be sure that there is a sufficient amount of greens around the bottom. Again, think of where your pot will be displayed. Mine is only going one foot off the ground, so it will be viewed by looking down on it. Some folks have piers or taller areas where their pots are going, these pots will need to have a nice lower row, as this is what you may see when viewing up at it. I’m using Scott’s Pine for my bottom. I love this material, as it already has pine cones attached! Don’t worry if it sticks up a bit, as you add more to the center, it will flatten out.

image     image

My next filler is a variegated boxwood. I love the variety of colors it brings to the mix. I’m not a huge fan of a straight green pot, although I can appreciate the simplicity. Don’t fill it to the brim, there needs to be room for other ingredients, and you can always add more boxwood later.

image     image

Next I added some magnolia. It will take up a lot of space, which is always good as you will save on materials because of it. After that comes the dried hydrangea flowers. I usually harvest these (for free!) from the large limelight we have in the yard at work. If your display will be out in the elements, I would give them a quick spray of clear enamel. This will stick them together and help stop the wind and snow from taking their toll. I also used grape vine balls for some natural-looking balls to bring together the round, flashy ornaments that are the next step. As you can see, I always have Oreo there offering to help me.

image     image

And now for the fun part…. the bling! The large balls were ornaments that I removed the hanger from and stuck a stick in the hole. You may need to use hot glue to steady it on the stick. The small ones came in a one-piece clump, which I cut apart. I then added the little curly-q glitter sticks and gold berry sprigs. Voilà!

I chose to go with a gold / brown theme here, as it can stay out past Christmas without looking tacky. If I had to total my materials here, I’d guess-ta-mate it would be about $55.00 without the pot. Right now, Hobby Lobby has all their Christmas stuff on sale for 50% off!

Happy Creating!!


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Woodstock Willie Says It Will Be an Early Spring for 2016!

Today, February 2nd, we celebrate Groundhog Day.  Our local Groundhog “Woodstock Willie” will let us Midwesterners know if we will be enjoying an early Spring!! Oooor not. =-(

I will update this post after 7 AM when Willie let’s us know!

UPDATE for 2016!! Willie did NOT see his shadow, so we will be enjoying an early spring here in the Midwest!! BTW – Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow either, so it looks like an early spring for most of the U.S. Smiles all around!! =-D

woodstock willie

Photo courtesy of WoodstockILchamber.com

Groundhog day started here in the U.S. around 1840 when German immigrants in Pennsylvania introduced the tradition of weather forecasting via the hedgehog (der Igel) in Germany. Since there were no hedgehogs here, the Pennsylvania German’s adopted the native woodchuck, aka the groundhog. The town of Punxsutawney, just northeast of Pittsburgh, has played up the custom over the years and has managed to become the most famous locations for Groundhog Day celebrations. Each year, people gather to see if a groundhog named “Punxsutawney Phil” will see his shadow after he emerges from his burrow. If he does, the tradition says there will be six more weeks of winter. (Phil has a rather dismal 39% rate of accuracy for his predictions.)

A similar German tradition is connected with St. Swithin’s Day (Siebenschläfer, June 27th), for which tradition says that if it rains on that day, it will rain for the next seven weeks. However, the Siebenschläfer is a dormouse, not a hedgehog.

The movie, “Groundhog Day” 1993 staring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell is one of my favorite movies. It was not filmed in Pennsylvania, where the movie takes place, but in Woodstock, Illinois, which is right near my home.

There is a small plaque that reads “Bill Murray stepped here” on the curb where Murray continually steps into a puddle.

I would encourage everyone to snuggle up with something warm… A husband, wife, dog, cat… or even a hot toddy and watch this great movie.

2/2/2016

Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus – Happy Holiday Houseplants

Two of the favorite plants for the winter holiday season are Poinsettias & the Christmas Cactus. With a bit of knowledge, you can choose and care for either of these rather easy.
pointsettaChoosing Your Poinsettia:

      • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
      • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
      • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
      • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
      • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.

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      • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Read the FULL post: How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageTo distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

To initiate flower buds on your holiday cactus, the plants need:

  • A bright location.
  • Fourteen hours or more of continuous darkness each 24 hour period is required
    before flower buds will occur. Long nights should be started about the middle of September and continued for at least 6 continuous weeks for complete bud set. Just like the poinsettia.
  • Fall growing temperatures should be between 60F and 68F, but as close to 68F as possible for maximum flower production. Plants grown with night temperatures between 50F and 59F will set flower buds regardless of day length, but growth will be slower.
  • Pinching at the end of September to remove any terminal phylloclades that are less than a half inch long, to make all stems approximately the same length. These short, immature stem segments will not make flower buds.

Read the FULL post: How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

Copyright Ilex Farrell

How to Create an Outdoor Winter Pot

My office for the next few days.
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This week kicked off the winter pot brigade! It generally slows down enough for me to help make the 100 or so winter pots my company installs before Thanksgiving. Out of the 100 or so we make, about 10 are Christmas containers, but we like to use the nondescript term of ‘winter pots’, because 98% of our client base is Jewish. No red, no berries, no sparkles, no holly, no bows, no garland, nothing related to Christmas! These limitations aren’t that difficult, there are many other options available. I like a non-Christmas pot myself, as it can be displayed after Christmas without looking like you were lazy in removing the holiday displays. Sometimes I use something easily removable such as lighted sticks, or sprigs of red berries that can be removed from the display and the pot can continue on into January and beyond.

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We pre-fab these at the office and the crews deliver these to the client’s homes. You can skip many of the next steps if you already have a prepared pot of soil. We make them this way so we don’t have to stand outside and do it! I think this almost falls into that category of, ‘Lazy man works the hardest!’ Ha!

We use nursery pots that closely fit the size of our client’s containers. Cut a plastic sheet to fit over the bottom holes. This slows or stops the water from draining and helps freeze the display in place. Next, add florist foam to the middle for stability of the larger ‘thriller’ items, as these could be rather large birch poles. Then fill the rest of the pot with a 50/50 soil/sand mixture. Be sure to really stuff that soil into the pot. The better packed soil helps hold the display in place from precipitation, the weight of snow and wind.
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Copyright – Ilex Farrell

Happy Independence Day

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Having a cool mojito poolside!
Where else but the U.S.A. can you afford such luxury? ?

Mojito
1 1/2 oz of light rum
2 tbsn sugar syrup (simple syrup)
12 mint leaves
Lime wedges
Club soda

Bruise the leaves in the glass. (Smash them!!)
In a tumbler mix the rum, simple syrup, and lime, shake. Dump into glass and add club soda to fill.
Ahhhh! So refreshing!

Enjoy your Fourth!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants