January 31, 2015

Nandina Berry Wreath for Valentine's Day: 2015 Version

Chances are, if you are an Oklahoman and have a yard, you have nandina growing in it. I have shouted their praises many a time as they are so easy care and lend such brightness and utility to the landscape and the vase. In fact, they are so common it is easy to overlook just HOW useful and festive they can be.

Last year at about this same time,  LC and I did a nandina berry wreath segment on FOUR YOUR GARDEN.  To watch that specific segment go here.  In fact, I wrote an article about a heart shaped version for the February issue of SOUTHERN LIVING.

(To make an X's and O's version of this Valentine wreath go to SL's FB page here).

As I get older, I find I give more time and attention to the smaller holidays of the year (i.e. Valentine's Day) and less attention to the grander ones (like Christmas). And Valentine's Day is, I think, the last reason for wintery  garden prunings and pluckings from the landscape before the desire for the freshness of spring's givings take over.

As spring arrives, I no longer care about the unseasonally-hued red berries as color jolts for the garden....so I often cut baskets and baskets of them off the shrubs and fill my urns, bowls, buckets and vases with masses of them.  Quite an easy and cardinal red statement for the month of love and romance.

Not everyone of course has these garnet jewels in such profusion...perhaps just one or two bunches of their pendulous beauty.  In that case, put even those few berries to use

adorning your love's gift, or sprinkle them about in pots and indoor plants.

Don't hesitate to snip branches of evergreens, ivy and vines to tuck into a store bought grapevine wreath...

or make a minimalist, more delicate wreath form of your own with vining canes of wisteria, trumpet vine, or ivy.

Just wrap the tendrils around a bucket or such, and secure the circular form with thin gauge wire to secure its shape. Then weave in berries and greenery, more or less to taste, and voila!

2015 version of a Nandina Valentine Wreath.

Prop it on a bench, lean it on your mantle, hang it on a door or window, or just...

be creative.

January 28, 2015

What Lies Below

 'What Lies Below' may sound like the name of some scary film starring Nicole Kidman and a lurking subterranean danger, but happily that is not my frame of reference today.

Rather an allusion to the joyful little rumblings below the garden surface... of hyacinths, daffodils, scilla, 

tulips, allium, crocus,

and other little wonders erupting...

from the now-warm earth... and exposed by my garden puttering of yesterday.

The fact is, this national-headline-making faux spring we've been enjoying has been a wonderful, glorious garden cheat.  

A cheat that has allowed us to sprint early out of the spring starting gate, giving us a jump on our garden chores; chores we are loathe to do when more delightful tasks of the garden call, but are happy to perform now after weeks of cloudless cold temperatures and short daylight hours.

A cheat we hope we will not pay for later in the form of nipped hydrangea buds,  premature bolting, frost heave and other garden terrors.

But woe be the gardener who looks a gift horse in the mouth...we would be foolish NOT to indulge ourselves AND our landscapes in this early garden preening.

Years ago, in March, my family stayed at the ever so charming INN AT PERRY CABIN in St. Michael's, Maryland. Everything about the place delighted and bewitched us, but I was, of course,

especially smitten with its outdoor spaces...the gardens, and terraces, seaside views 

and intimate spaces.

(True story: when capturing the link to their site, I happened upon this picture from their promo page...a picture of my older son sitting in front of the fire! We had been on a college scouting trip for him and had capped it off with a stay at the Inn. He ended up at the University of Virginia BTW). 

But, oh my.  The greenhouse and its gardens! I wandered and peeked and poked about. Absolute Nirvana, looking at the well tended, groomed and tidied eruptions of early garden springtime.

It was this 'tidied up' practice I particularly noticed about their plantings (and the lesson learned that I now share in this post)...

that is...that OUR late winter and early spring jewels, emerging bulbs and tufts of green, are welcome and endearing under ANY circumstances (or under any seasonal litter and leafy debris), but are ever so much more beautiful when given special treatment and primping. Tending and tlc we are often not able to provide as weather, time, and energy limitations prevent such garden vanities.

But a faux spring AND polished  and primped earthly jewels...

                         sheer magic.

January 27, 2015

Mulching in January

Underneath this goofy, happy smile... on a record setting 77 degree high temp on January 26,

resides a low level of anxiety about such warm temperatures in what should be one of our coldest months.

But low grade concern is not ABOUT to dissuade me from getting out on such a glorious, inordinately warm winter afternoon. About this time of year, the barren brown ugliness of the gardens....with all its dusty, leafy debris.....begins to play on my nerves and my spirits. I itch to remove the unsightly beigeness of it all, but am reticent to do so...

as I know better.  I know that it is serving its purpose...protecting and insulating and holding in moisture. All the comforts that plants AND humans need in winter. But it is gloriously warm, after all,  and sure as shootin',  I will scratch that itch to tidy up the landscape.  Not, however, without replacing that leafy mulch without another, better looking, blanket of warmth.

Most, if not all, of the leaves have fallen from my oaks and maple trees in the front, as well as the leaves from nearby neighboring trees and deciduous shrubs.  After all, I don't want repeat this rather laborious process again. Other spring chores will demand my time and attention.

But just try to keep me out of the garden on a day like this in January! Husband is not one to work in the garden much, but he is generally happy to be Chief Procurement Officer, and as such, made a trip to Lowe's for my favorite mulch of the moment, their fine pine Landscaper's Mix Soil Conditioner.

It is dark and rich and a perfect medium for my front garden self-seeders... like violas, chamomile and golden feverfew... to germinate in and get off to a good start.  All the activity in pursuit of

a happy landscape

and a very happy, melatonin infused, gardener. 

January 26, 2015

Stylish and Protective Gardening Attire

Truth be told, serious gardeners (and I am no exception) are often  found futzing and putzing about in the landscape in muddied pajamas...coffee cup in one hand, weedy debris in the other.  But at a certain point in the early spring season...

there are WAY too many unexpected visitors (in both the front AND the back garden ( a usually relatively safe spot to be found in less than respectable attire...)

to warrant the actual donning of day clothes with perhaps even a little attention to one's appearance...AND attention to providing protection from Oklahoma's strong spring and summer sun...all the while upping one's game in terms of stylish gardening attire...Garden Couture, as it were. 

Last Friday I did a spot on FOUR YOUR GARDEN about fashionable garden clothing and accessories to do just that...look good AND provide protection at the same time. COOLIBAR is a great place to buy good looking, sensible clothes that provide 50+ SPF and block out 98% UVA?UVB.  Shirts, pants, accessories, you name it, for men, women, children and babies.

Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing

Garden tough doesn't have to be garden ugly.  Case in point these darling Dirty Laundry Buffalo Plaid Boots,  on sale now at DSW for $29.99.  (Look for similar styles in fun floral prints as well.)

While engaging in some apres-gardening in these boots, the first two garden gals I ran into asked where they could order some for themselves.  Cute, tough, rugged, Doc Martin-like chic...and comfortable. Hurry, hurry, hurry, they're going fast.  :)


January 23, 2015


On one of the first Valentine's Days after my father married my second mother, he gave her a pair of Dutch Girl Painted Wooden Shoes...with, you guessed it... the sentiment "Wooden Shoe Be My Valentine?"  A rather kitschy expression, but as a little girl (though English/German, not Dutch), I thought it sweet and romantic (or I would not remember it still.) 

A pair of wooden clogs is not on my personal list of Valentine gifts, but other nature inspired wooden lovelies would be greatly appreciated.

These wooden bracelet stands are both functional AND sculpturally attractive. Find them here....perhaps with a little stone and metal token of love hanging from them?

I love the masculine vibe of these Hand finished Rosewood Keyboard covers for Macs. Great gift for the man OR gal in your life.

I am generally not a big fan of the heart shape, but I love the subtly of these stylized heart 
Olive Wooden Heart Nesting Bowls in triplicate. The graining is beautiful,  don't you think?

You may not recognize these smart looking jump drives from Oooms Design
as such, but what a voguish valentine they would make for your romantic or platonic valentine. While surfing and shopping online, lust after this chic hand made Haitian cuff bracelet.....a work of art on or off the cuff from Ash and Ames

Grand love calls for grand gestures.  Is this rustically elegant Riddling Rack Succulent Stand from Pottery Barn grand enough?

Not as grand, but enough to make your heart happy are these beautiful form meets function industrial chic hooks from Andrewsreclaimed.

Give you any ideas for your Valentines? If not, join me and LC today on FOUR YOUR GARDEN on NewsChannel 4 at 4:30. We'll be discussing What the Stylish Gardener will be Wearing this Spring.