Saturday, December 20, 2008

Make it BIG Take TWO

Making a big planter usually needs two people but you CAN do it without another person. I did here and it took me awhile, problem solving along the way. First things first, I was told to use the birch. At this point, I was sort of tired of birch or white planters period. White was a big thing this year for planters even though the clothing industries IN colours were purple and green (I find that movies often set the trend for colours for that year aka Joker colours from The Dark Knight).

(above) The Birch are tall, about 8 feet in length so I had to cut them in half to make them work for this planter. Anything smaller than four feet and the impact wouldn't have been the same. Birch is just one of those things that you can't go cheap on (if you want it in the planter) no matter what you do. The birch makes the planter through and through. I always make sure to put it on something stable like a table and hold it steady with my foot and hand while Im cutting it through. That way, I don't cut anything major off, like a limb or an artery. Safety is always something to keep in mind when dealing with sharp tools when you're inexperienced.

I dig my hole. obviously you need to do this a little earlier or your soil will be frozen. Below, I had the door to prop my birch against so I could fill in the soil as I went. On a normal, smaller scale planter, we use sand because wet sand sets in the cold and grips whatever is in it like a vice. The problem with Sand is that it's heavy and makes it almost impossible to move (or steal haha).This is concrete and I wouldn't dream of watering it in the cold because it'll crack the product. Also something to think about if you're wanting to put in a live evergreen tree. you still have to water them because they do all their growing in the winter (and its always in the winter that they die because they don't nearly get enough water that they need).

So you may need that second person anyways to hold your birch in place, unless you are against a wall and get crafty. If you have a good look at the birch, I try to pick one long and narrow piece to one thicker one. The variations give a little more eye interest than if they all looked the same and had the same length.

I criss cross them at the bottom. I find it holds them together better and gives me more room to work with around them. remember, the more stuff you pack into it (and around it) the better chance your birch has of not moving in the wind. Plus, doing the criss crossing at the bottom makes the birch splay outwards and takes up more air space at the top.

It`s not going to be incredibly even because lets face it, its nature and thats the way things go. My sister wanted me to use these tree things, but we've sprayed them different colour so that they go with the scheme that I want. But don't be fooled, up to this point, I had no idea what I was going to put into the planter. It's all trial and error. But see! My Birch stands up! I really just put those in there like that too keep the birch in place better.

Next, the greenery. I used Ontario Cedar in the middle because its more upright and rigid. I used B.C. cedar on the side because it's lush and has a very nice hanging effect. Using big long branches (boughs) for this one was important because anything smaller and it would just fall out.

I added eucalyptus dyed black as an accent because we love eucalyptus and I really always think it makes the planter better. Because there's so much white in this (white concrete urn, white birch) I needed something to tone it down or it would just go bland on me.
I added the rest of my junk and it took a lot of time to pick and choose through it, to find a combination that I liked. It's just like matching clothes and one little thing can set off the entire planter.

And this is the final product (below)... I actually had to open the door by this point because it just wouldn't fit once I got all the stuff around it. But this was the roadside planter we had done in earlier posts, so it was going to be freestanding on its own and see all theway around. If you're doing a planter with a back to it (a wall) you don't need to do it all the way around and it'll be cheaper for you in the end if you design it with the height closer to the wall and all the junk (fake stuff) in the center. Goodluck!

Let's Make it BiG

Oh My. Big planters are always fun and require at least two people to do them. Well, sometimes. If you want to be a little faster, know what you're doing before hand and the size of your planter. We walked into this job site blind. We didn't really have an accurate size of the planter ('it's THIS big' type of hand gesture big) and we didn't know what the customer wanted. So it was a blind, on site planter. I brought piles of stuff to this site because I wasn't sure what would fit with the colour of it either. Below, its me holding the birch. We took turnsfor the two. She held the birch to begin with while I put in the placement of the plants. Then we switched, I would hold the birch and she would fill in the holes with soil.

Putting the bigger stuff in. Oh and straightening out the birch before we do that. We don't want anything off balance.
Putting the junk in. We didn't really put it in randomly. There's a pattern you can make up with bulks of product. You can accent kale with pine cones, making them trail along the side to give it a round appeal, while using bigger pine cones in the middle to give it bulk and height.

Belated Kale Posting

I should have posted this ages ago when Kale/Cabbage was popular. I kept looking at all the nice varieties and thinking the same thing everyday, that I should take pictures and actually get some information posted. But alas, between picking up and moving, with Sick baby on my hands, I just didn't have time nor energy to post. So now, I give you something to feast your eyes on.

Chidori White Kale.
I'm definitly not a fan of this variety because of the ruffly way it is, but the colour was just too outstanding to pass by. The thing to remember about Kale is it stays green until it gets super cold. The cold changes it and its never a good idea to plant Kale or Cabbage too early because Aphids just LOVE this stuff. Spraying helps but it doesn't too piles once the plant is infected. This plant especially doesn't take well to spraying because the bugs get nice and wedged down deep in the center. ewwww.

'Red Borr' Kale.
This is a special one for me. I had to ask for this one specifically becuase it wasn't on the list but I knew they grew it. It's one of the weirder Kales out there. It's very tall, dark red and stands about hip height (almost three feet with pot included). I always ask for this one and everytime theyonly have a handful before they run out.
(below) Coral Prince.
I THINK this is Coral Prince. I always get them mixed up but I think it is because I remember Coral prince is a little boring than Coral Queen. It's still nice and has the nice pinkish center but not an incredible plant. it doesn't make the impact the way the purples do unless you get a specific variety with it to enhance the colour. Something that's flat and duller than this. hah.

Dinosaur Kale.
True to it's name, its big, more like a grass if you can believe it and it grows odd for a Kale. Very Similiar to Red borr but it has a more upright and fountain effect which makes for that great fall planter when all the grasses are dying off and can't maintain their colour when the cold hits.

Coral Queen.
I just like this one because of the colour in the center and it always makes a great center piece for a planter. It's a wonderful accent too if you add something bright in there like a lime plant of some sort (hakonechloa 'all gold' would do). I think I did that earlier on but I can't recall if I posted it or not. I used this one quite a bit against pigeon purples because they're boring plants but they bring out the interesting colours of the weirder ones. Put boring with weird. It makes for a better combination. If you put too much weird together, it gets too busy and when you put too much boring together.. well... it just gets boring and makes for a real overlooker type planter.


Okay, I've mixed two comic book favourites but thats what I'm going with. I havn't been around to post because I've been so busy and with seasonal layoffs, I've had quite sometime to collect photos for Christmas, hanukkah, diwali adventures and spirit.

I'm considered the Dr. Strange of the greenhouse planters. I always make them weird. I like them weird. Different and once I've done that different planter, I like to move onto something else. This one is just a rip off of another one that I did earlier on for the seminar. Except its in black. This was the third set of planters that I did, but you can see the steps I went through to make it the way I did. The green ball in the planter is fake. It's a good product because the colour is infused into the plastic so it prevents fading. Doesn't prevent dust from getting on it though. Remember that when buying fake plants!

I made this one with no intention of selling it. It was for the seminar, so that people could see how they can look and what they can do with the product we have or whatever they have around the house. Sometimes I wish I was this creative at home. I find I'm just lazy when it comes to my own house because all the creative juices are sucked out at work.

This is a customer order after seeing the seminar one (the original) but I didn't have certain products for it so I had to wait for the orders to come in. This was half done.
I couldn't find the original butterflies and the red balls were not in there. The customer wanted the balls and I had to make them work, so this was the result of it. I was not too happy with the outcome but I managed to make it look nice and she seemed to really like how they turned out. I think I'm just not a fan of traditional ways of looking. You know? I didn't like the red and green together for some reason but the butterflies made it look a lot better.

This planter is the original one, with the original butterflies that I had meant to take apart but they made me sell it. haha. It was a huge pain to secure but once I had it in there, it wasn't going anywhere. Unless it was extremely windy or getting 35 cm of snow like we did yesterday.

By the time I was done the sixth planter, I was exhausted of this idea and all the fun had tapered out. I like to do original ideas and move onto something else. I'm not as traditional as other people but I can be if I'm feeling the creative vibe that day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tags for the breast Cancer Awareness Month!

I've been tagged by for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I got time to do this even though Im a little behind!

Here it goes.

My favorites:1. Clothes Shop: I like Jacob Connection. It's usually cheap for jeans but I always have to get four inches taken off by a nearby seamstress.

2. Furniture Shop: Leons!

3. Sweet: I like Yorkies. Sadly, canada doesn't sell them. They're only in the states and really, I can't be crossing the border just for chocolates.

4. City: Alaska by far (anchorage). I loved it and if I was amercian, thats where I would live.

5. Drink: Arctic Red (its in the yukon) but a close second is Keith's Red Amber Ale.

6. Music: I like everything. It's impossible to listen to my itunes correctly becasue one minute, it'll be playing country, the next, Indian. haha.


8. Films: Batman, mostly all the Marvel and DC films. Fantasy ones, as long as the cast doesn't suck.

9. Workout: I use goodlife, though I havn't been to the gym in a month because we've been moving out and into the house!

10. Pastries: mmm cupcakes.. :)

11 Coffee: I'm actually an Earl Grey drinker. I don't do coffee anymore, not for two years now. Not since I got pregnant and had a baby.

Now I gotta tag someone. Please know I will not be offended if you don't post about the tag. This is just a chance to call out some of my favorite blogs: Joy, Vanillalotus, Dustin, crafty gardener, Barbee, Niles, :)

Happy Thanksgiving and Home updates!

I've been busy for the last two weeks and I've had no shortage of people, baby, sick baby, holiday fun and exhaustion since we moved in last week. I have to say, it's a pleasure to sit down on the back patio with my laptop and enjoy the stillness of the evening. It's like living at a cottage, only I live here permanently!! Mind you, it's in suburbia but its in a nook in the suburbs of quietness, trees and vacant of traffic sounds. We're on the line of the fly paths for the airport (because we're fifteen minutes away from it) but they don't fly all the time, or we just stopped noticing after living here for sometime (within the area). It's convient to live here because we're two minutes from the grocery store while not being so close that we hear all the crap that goes on there. The neighbors are nice, quiet and there's lots of kids around here so when Ian gets of Age, he'll have friends to play with. I'm very happy, but along with a house comes alot of background work that I didn't realize. Suddenly, we have a yard to clean up and have to get ready for the winter. Laundry is great because there's not so much of it, but I find Im doing it more because of that. The dog is happy, the cats are SO happy and we're happy too. I can't stress how worth it this was, to spend almost ten years through slumlords and come out of it with a house. A house we love. I'll never move from here. Ever.

We're teaching Ian how to go down the stairs on his stomach because he keeps going up to them and going up on the deck. He wants to go down but he's unsure how. So it's been the main thing this weekend. WE can't put a gate to the basement because of the way it goes, so we have to try something because he's very fast and our eyes are not always quick enough to catch him when he approaches stairs. THe same with the patio steps when working in the yard.

Oh and the mudd. He loves the mud! I went out today and repotted all my plants, pruned them and now they're all ready for the great indoors. My Weeping Purple Beech needs to be planted and Im going to put it where it will block out a hydro pole in the back yard. Originally, I wanted to put it in the front yard to make a gothic garden, specifically targeted towards black growing varieties, but it suits the back yard much better. I may end up getting a bloodgood Japanese Maple tree to block out the neighbors on the left but I havnt' quiet figured out what to plant on the right. We have overhanging hydro lines so I can't plant very large trees. They have to be under fifteen feet.

WE cleaned out the shed yesterday and I had a good laugh. We apparently own every chemical to date, owning three tree pruners (but we have no trees!), two hedge trimmers, three weed wackers, two lawn mowers, five brooms in mint condition, ridiculous amounst of rope, a full wheel of rope, pullys, lawn chairs, a tarp, another patio umbrella, shoves galore, an abundance of tools that I have no idea how to use and a crazy amount of extension cords. Dream come true for me. Hell, I could start my own landscaping company.

So to this weekend, I toast you all and have a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Canadian Bulb Shoppers!!!

Guess what?? I walked into No Frills this morning and came across a cheap bulb display from Holland Flowers. $1.99 per pack of bulbs (some have three bulbs, others have six). And guess what I found!!!

GIANT ALLIUM for a $1.99!!!! SO CHEAP.

Usually it's ten buck range for a package over here, but I scored it cheap. Much to my embarressment - I couldn't help myself - I ransacked their display and pulled out every allium bulb I could find and Queen of Night (black tulip).

SCORE ten points for the cheap shoppers!

....hey... I get deals where I can too.

The great fall of grass

It's Grass time!
Pennisetum 'Red Head'

Pennisetum 'Red Head'.
The hardiest of the Pennisetum variety and also brother to the Pennisetum Rubrum (as you all know as purple fountain grass). Red head does come back. It's taller but not by much, mostly three feet of a good solid clump. Full sun. Reblooming all season, which makes this a nice addition in the garden.
Carex 'Ice Dance'. This is a very short grass, very green with some white through it. It's obviously full sun (but yes, there are grasses out there that are full shade) and it is like an ever green, to which you don't ever cut it back.
Ophiopogon 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass). From what I understand, this isn't actually agrass but more part of the lily family. But we'll call it a grass for the sake of my post (and because everyone sells it as a grass). Full sun, also an evergreen so you do NOT cut it back (cut it back adn you will kill it! KILLER!)
Hakonechloa 'All Gold' (in the planter). This is much like the other one I posted the other day, but it is a lime green grass. Nice colour, great accent in the greenhouse and also one of my favourites. Heck, I don't think there's a hakonechloa out there that I don't like. It's also great in planters as you can see below. I did this planter for my boss and we didn't exactly have anything around at the time, except pennisetum Rubrum for height and I needed something that gave bang to the planter, while holding an interest if it were to die (which it most undoubtably would considering its getting cold now).

I have been the Queen of Slack this past month, so I thought I should get off the pot and post a little more as promised.

My sister wanted me to take pictures of the grasses in the greenhouse and all I could think was how do you make grass look good without making it all look the same. Given, when you're around something enough, you notice small details about it that separates it from others, but lets be honest. REALLY honest. When grass comes in and I don't know the variety, it all looks the same. I'm obviously doing a fabulous job of showing just how much I know. hah.

People don't plant nearly enough grass as they should in their garden. I was putting Panicum 'dewy blues' and 'northern wind' in the garden at my house (they look the same unless you have a REALLY good eye to tell them apart - northern winds more upright and dewey blues more saggy), when the owners of the house laughed. She said "Look Ken! She's putting the weeds back in your garden!" heh. Gotta love them. I know they didn't like the grass but.. BUT! I also noticed they're watering the garden until we move. HMMM. And really, I didn't like dewey blues when it came into the greenhouse either. I was like "oh, what's this" with disgust written all over my face, like why did my sister get THIS. And then..... I really had a good second look at it and was all "oh.. I must have this grass." I'll have to take pictures when I get there.

I put a few grasses in my inlaw's garden and I could see the same expression on their faces. Why was I putting grass? Especially when they want flowers. Because it pops the flower out of the garden. It enhances all the little things that you wouldn't normally notice. Grass is an accent plant, sort of like a complimentary colour to the wide array of colours already in your garden. If you just have clumps of flowers, you tend to lose those flowers to other ones and it becomes a big mess. Of course, I like big messes (you should see my work space), but I also like asymmetrical things. Symmetry has its place. Grasses make both in a garden. You just need to pick the right grass and No, not every grass is green. There are lime ones, red ones, blue ones and when you put all the colours together, you notice them more.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A little 2009, a little old, a little Joy in there too.

Someone pulled the alarm again last night and I'm sure the residents of the building would chime in with me when I say 'OFF WITH HIS HEAD'. We know it's a guy because the landlord saw someone running off, someone who was not apart of the building (they have great memories). Surprisingly, the baby slept through it all. Here I thought I would have to try and get him back to sleep. But all was well after the alarm was turned off by the firedepartment.... again.
Onto plants. Hakonechloa Aureola is my favourite one. It's really cheap, old variety and it flows really well in the garden. I'm probably going to buy this variety this year, just to have it in my garden. I already have the other two, so one more different variety of the same family couldn't hurt. I bought the sedum below and despite it says fullshade plant, I've always known sedums to grow in full sun. If you put it in full shade, assume that it WILL turn green on you. Sedum in shade... psh.
That's all for today.
Hakonechloa 'Aureola'
Sedum 'Larinem Park'
Lily Turf 'Royal Purple'
And this is for Joy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New perennials 2009

WHAT a few weeks it has been. it's been hectic. that's what it's been. Sorry for the typos. I've been up for 46 hours with only two hours sleep so im fairy exhausted overall. Someone pulled the firealarm last night and I had just gotten to bed. So naturally, the baby woke up and it was awhile before we got him back to sleep. By then, it was 4:30am..... I was suppose to get up at five....You can imagine how my day went today. Something of dragging my feet with my face in the pavement.

We're in the process of moving from the apartment to our new home! A house! With a garden!!!!! well... actually, there's nothing on it but lawn (it's a forty year old house so Wheee! lots of lawn). There's a small little garden in front and I went in last week and planted all my perennials before they died on my dark and shady balcony.

So I don't have much brain power to get into a big speech about plants today, so I will have to just post a few pictures of the ones I like. We snagged a few new perennials of 2009. oohh!!
Time to OH and AW.
Crocosmia 'Bright Eyes'

Begonia 'Curly fireflush'.
Tricyrtis 'Lasiocarpa'.

More later! They arn't in bloom yet, but let me just say, I bought London Fog Strain. Props if you know what that is.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The drought tolerant MONSTER

It's the planter that we so rarely water. For a greenhouse, you'd think we'd be more on the ball of everything and get our butts out there, watering. But this is our road side planter. It takes sometime to water it (filing up bucks and hauling them out front - no hose) and just overall, we shove things in there when we're feeling bored and seasonalish. For fall, there's pumpkins and red hot peppers (last year stock I think?) We actually thought it would look ugly on the planter but it bumped it up into some massive beauty that you just can't help but stare at when you drive in. It does so well, it's shocking to see the monster it's become.

Yours truely.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Displays plays.

You got it. We finished it! If you've been following me on twitter, we've been doing displays for three days. This is just one of our four displays of junk left over in the greenhouse. It's hard to make random stuff look good with very little props to aid as possible. With this one, we just stacked the skids like jenga (oh come on, you know the game) and stapled landscape fabric over top. We found this zebra pattern from an old display hiding in a box and vola, instant stage. With the other displays, we had less to use but I forgot to take a picture of them while I was running out the door yesterday. Hard goods are never easy to set up because they require a lot of simplicity. But when you jumble them together, they start to look like a big heaping mess and it's difficult to make something look good when you only have one of this.... two of that... five of this.... three of that.. But it worked. We did it.
Now it's Saturday and time to relax the sore muscles.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Scott's Miracle Gro No Miracle - Terra Cycle is the way to go

To those that work around me, I am not a fan of Miracle Gro (despite the fact that we sell it). I don't believe in pre mixed fertilizers unless they are all natural like TerraCycle. Let it be known that you do not always know what they put in those fertilizers. Some change the PHD of your soil and remember what you put in your soil always gets recycled back to you.

I like Terra Cycle because not only is their fertilizer 'worm poop' but they also buy back all the recycled bottles (no matter what the size) and are the only company known to do that (also accepting old recycled bottles from the public and drop offs).

This is my own opinion and by no means reflects the company I work for. We can't always stand by all the products that companies sell but you can educate people, so that they can form their own opinions.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Food for thought - Plants are like people

Constantly, people come into the garden center and they ask their questions, but one that comes up often is why did it die? There's always a number of factors as to why plants die, even ones that come from us at times. But when all the factors have been listed off, and there really should be no reason why the plant died, there still is the number one reason: plant health.

I always explain that plants are like people. Some are healthy, some are not. Some get big, some don't. It's just the nature of the beast. No two trees grow alike. Similiar yes, as people are similiar to each other, but never exactly the same and you have to remember that when creating symmetry. Nothing is nature will be the same and why not enjoy it's difference instead of ripping it out and buying a new one to match the other?

Isn't it true that when two people spend lots of time together, they become more and more alike? Never the same, but always alike. That could apply to plants too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The bang for your buck -Perennial Hibiscus

Perennial Hibiscus. One of my favourites. Sure, they can get boring if you stare at them all day long in the greenhouse but really, I've always liked them for the reason that you can see them from the road. Once established, they bloom big (flowers like dinner plates) and they bloom LOTS. In Canada, these babies start now (early July/mid august) and bloom until mid september or until the heat lifts. There's two varieties, dwarf (3 feet) and regular (4 feet). They have a good spread of 18 inches at LEAST. Most people put them at the back of their garden, somewhere where they don't have to look at them until they are suddenly in bloom.

The key to growing hibiscus. DON'T PULL IT OUT IN SPRING. Hibiscus needs heat to push out of the ground, so while everything is green and flush int he garden, hibiscus sits there like a stump, looking very dead in your garden. Don't pull it out!!! They come up Late June and once they're up, they push like crazy. A little water goes a long way with them and helps the plant come up better, but for the most part, this is a very drought tolerant plant. They also need nothing short of fullsun (think, the less sun, the less blooms). I have four of them sitting on the balcony, pending planting for October. Can't wait either. Can't wait!

Brandy Punch.

Moy Grande.

Fantasia. Turn of the Century.

Peppermint Schnapps.
Fantastia.Cherry Brandy.

Grenache. (dwarf)
Pinot Grigio. (dwarf)
Pink Elephant.
Plum Crazy.

Any Questions?