25 December 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The house was loud, the voices cheery, the laughter full as we gathered together as a family to celebrate Christmas.  We filled our bellies and enjoyed the company of loved ones we don't get to see often and those we do and still love to be near them more.  It's a boisterous gathering full of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, foot comparisons, cute chocolates, adorable pups, good friends, .... wonderful people.  

Christmas Eve eve we took a road trip in -20 C or so (with the windchill) weather to an acreage an hour out of town to see 5 acres of lights.  It was beautiful .... and cold!!

All in all it was a joyful celebration of the birth of our Saviour.  That's what Christmas is to me.  It's Jesus, hope, charity. love. family, togetherness, joy....  I am reminded of Dr. Seuss' quote from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas .... "maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more."  I hope your Christmas was something more...

Merry Christmas and all the best in the new year.  Cheers!!

30 November 2016

My Daughter's First Centrepiece

Yesterday A came over and she made her first ever Christmas centrepiece.  I think she did a marvellous job!!

27 November 2016

Seeing Red, Pink, Yellow and White...the Kaleidoscope of the New Poinsettias

You can imagine my surprise when I saw melon coloured poinsettias this week!!  Thanks to revolutionary select breeding, new colours and patterns on poinsettia leaves are becoming increasingly available but how will the public respond, I wonder.  Here are some photos of those beautiful plants, the traditional and not so traditional.  Which is your preference?

14 November 2016

Christmas Centrepieces

For inspiration, I've included a few photos.

An unusual colour scheme chosen to complement the magnolia leaves.

A selection of centrepieces

An undressed urn drop-in ready to decorate.

My urn 2016.  I used white pine predominately, red dogwood and white birch for the upright aspect. Embellished with stems of mountain ash with berries, a red lantern with a battery operated tea light, one grapevine ball and two sugar cones.

It can be as simple or detailed as you like.  Make it yours and have fun.  Cheers!

03 November 2016

Foggy Evening

Last evening a dense fog rolled in.  It was the perfect atmosphere for Halloween, alas one night late.

Great dense mists obscure
trees and houses though nearby
swallowed in the fog 

~ SMartin 2016

01 November 2016

Hello November!

With Halloween by the wayside, November dawned with a dusting of light crystal snowflakes.  As I walked out on the deck this morning, the air was warm enough for the snow to stick.  Miniature crystals perched on flower petals, as if gently dusted there.  I look out the window now to see more flakes falling, their presence much more significant than an hour ago.  

This is not to be long-lived though, if our Beetlejuice weatherman (Global news' Mike Sobel) is to be believed.  The next few days, into the weekend we are forecast to see temperatures in the teens (Celsius).  A joy we haven't experienced in a few weeks!  There's hope I will get my bulbs planted yet!

As chilly as it may be today, tomorrow and the next few days should be brilliant!! I watched a video this morning of my 18 month old grandson doing the Monster Mash dance.  What a hoot!  It melts my heart to watch him and am so grateful for the videos shared on social media by his parents and his grandmother.  

I sit here now contemplating the day ahead.  Today should be a good day to clean bathrooms, visit the library and do some reading.  A flu shot is scheduled for the middle of the day, I am reminded.  Next week we continue the set up at work for the "floral department" for Christmas.  I look forward to the upcoming weeks immensely as I really enjoy designing with greens.  The fragrance of cedar, spruce and fir alone ought to put everyone in the spirit.

How was your Halloween?

30 October 2016

Amaryllis - the flower of love

This week I planted my amaryllis bulb.  It's a task that takes some forethought as it takes about 5-8 weeks for the bulb to flower once it is planted.  Note that the top 1/3 of the bulb is above the soil.  I watered it once and will water again once the top inch of the soil is dry.  Overwatering is the one thing that can catch you with this bulb.  Amaryllis detest sitting in wet soil as it leads to rot.  In a couple weeks its first leaf should be growing and then I can water a little more often, about once a week.  

Sometimes amaryllis get their flower stalks before they really develop leaves.  It seems unusual but it happens.  After the blooms have wilted, I will cut the flower stalk back to about an inch high and let the leaves grow.  I like to summer mine outdoors and fertilize as I would my other potted plants.  You can plant directly in the garden as long as you are willing to dig it up and repot at the end of summer. Once the leaves have wilted at the end of summer, I cut them off, leaving the live ones intact to continue to feed the bulb.  If you over summer outdoors, bring in before the first frost.  If you prefer, you may summer indoors in a brightly lit window.  They need the sun to feed the bulb for the next season of blooms.

Amaryllis like to go dormant in a cool, dimly lit spot for about 6-8 weeks.  So if you have a cool room or a cellar, that would be ideal for your amaryllis to rest. Then in October, start the forcing process again.  

Did you know some amaryllis can live up to 75 years?

26 October 2016

Vancouver Island - a photo montage of some of the best moments of summer vacation

Summer 2016 we vacationed to Vancouver Island with our son, his wife and our grandson.  We had gorgeous weather and had a blast!  Here are some of my favourites from the vacation.

The ocean near Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island

In the forests in the Port Renfrew area (above)

Sunset at Port Renfrew, above

Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island (above)

Miscellaneous shots from Vancouver Island (above)

The Laughing Men Statues of Vancouver (above)

Some of the best moments.....


17 October 2016

The Teal Pumpkin

photo taken at Salisbury Greenhouse (Sherwood Park, AB)
Have you seen these?  Teal is the new colour of Halloween folks.  That is, a teal pumpkin.  When placed on your doorstep on Halloween it indicates you have non-food items to offer.  The Teal Pumpkin Project is an inspired initiative that started in 2014 by Food Allergy Research and Education to educate the public and promote the inclusion of individuals with food allergies and sensitivities and those who cannot eat candy.

You can go to foodallergycanada.ca to download a copy of the Teal Pumpkin Project poster to place in your window on Halloween to let children/families know you have non-food treats available.  Halloween should be fun for all children and by participating, you make it that much easier.

16 October 2016

Images of What Fall Should Look Like but Doesn't

October 15:  As I stare out the window here by the computer small white flakes are falling in abundance. While it's not abnormal for snow to fall this early here in Alberta, we have become accustomed to long pleasant autumns.  The previous two years were bliss!

So today I planted a small maple shrub, "Elf", amidst the snow in partially frozen ground, only the first inch was really frozen. I am wondering when I will get my bulbs planted. Will it quit snowing and actually melt enough so I can accomplish this last task? I wonder. Honestly, I can just push aside the snow, and if necessary grab a drill to make holes, right? With this early snowfall, many of us gardeners are hustling about trying to winterize.  This morning I was the rude neighbour, out early in the day bringing in two rattan chairs and the umbrella.  I knew it was coming and I was determined to beat the snow and I did, just barely!

I took a lot of photos, as usual and figured I'd post some a little more in keeping with the season than that above and what I see out my window today. 

Earlier this month:

Some fun shots while shopping with A:

We enjoyed Thanksgiving here in the snow, a light snowfall which began to melt just before this dumping we have now.  All the kids were here but one who was in London. 

Following Thanksgiving it was back to work in this....I cannot complain at all.

Last week at the greenhouse: the mums are in bloom and the poinsettias are growing well.

A Halloween Fairy Garden, above.

We left the fountains running overnight to prevent the pumps from freezing.  It made for some pretty ice sculptures.  

The poinsettias are growing well.

Mums are in all shades...pink, red, yellow, white, burgundy....

Getting ready for Christmas.

October 16:  I'm finishing this post today, Sunday.  We had freezing rain early this morning and the walks are a sheet of ice.  I don't much feel like driving anywhere on a skating rink so reading and movies is where it's at today.  Maybe I'll make that butternut squash soup recipe for tomorrow.  It feels like soup weather.

Hope this finds you well.  Cheers!!



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