Category: Winter

Hot House Flowers

The grocery store makes for an unexpected ally in beating winter’s blues. Spruce up your home with a few potted plants that you can find at the grocery store. To personalize these blooms to suit my style I slip the plants (pot and all) into decorative containers.

Hot House Flowers are a Breath of Spring

Forced Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinths – The daffodils and hyacinths you buy at the grocery store can be planted in the garden after the flowers fade. Wait until the foliage dies back. I’ve not had much luck with replanting tulips because they aren’t perennial in southern gardens where springs are short. However, daffodils and hyacinths will bloom again for me the next year.

Daffodils

Cape Primroses– Maintain temperature around 60 degrees. Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to provide humidity without overwatering.

photo credit: Eva Gruendemann

Hydrangeas – These big, colorful flowers are everyone’s favorite. While the plant is indoors keep the soil consistently moist and out of direct sunlight. After the last frost date in your area plant it outside in a partially shaded spot.

Hydrangeas

Orchids – Watering orchids can be tricky and varies depending on the type or orchid and time of year. (Water more in the summer and less in the winter.) Generally a good rule is to water every five to 12 days. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Dab excess water off leaves.

Orchids

Five Edibles You Can Grow Indoors

Here we are smack dab in the middle of winter and I’m starting to miss walking to the vegetable garden, snips in hand, to gather ingredients for dinner. To tide me over until it’s time to plant spring crops I’m actually growing a few things indoors. I won’t be harvesting any tomatoes, but at least I can get my hands dirty and enjoy the satisfaction of adding a few fresh ingredients to my recipes.

Here are five edibles you can grow indoors this winter.

Edibles to Grow Indoors

  • Lemons and Limes
    Citrus won’t give you instant gratification, but you can enjoy the sweet scent of the blooms while you wait for the fruits. Look for a variety that is known to thrive indoors and produces year-round such as Meyer lemon or Bearss lime. Place the tree near a bright, southern or western facing window and away from sources of heat. Deep soak the soil every 5 to 7 days. Citrus prefer slightly acidic soil and high nitrogen fertilizer. Feed with a slow release fertilizer designed for citrus plants and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Sprouts
    Soak seeds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and drain again. Place the seeds in a quart sized Mason jar. Cover the top with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band. Set the jar in a dark place propped at a slight angle. Rinse and drain the seeds with cold water twice a day for about 4 to 5 days, at which point you will have mature sprouts. Place the jar of sprouts in indirect light and they will green up. Rinse in cold water and store in the refrigerator.
  • Micro Greens
    Micro greens are the baby leaves of fast sprouting seeds such as lettuce, radish and basil. The leaves are harvested while still small. To grow micro greens sow the seeds in sterile potting soil, cover with about ¼ inch of soil and mist the soil daily to keep moist. Keep the seeds warm until they begin to sprout then move the container to a sunny window. Ideally the plants need 12 hours of light for healthy growth so a grow light might be required. Depending on the type of plant you grow you should have harvestable leaves in 14 to 30 days.
  • Garlic Greens
    Garlic greens are a great substitute for fresh chives or scallions. Pot up about 10 organic cloves (ne need to peel) in a 4-inch container. Place in a sunny window and water consistently. Harvest the leaves when they are about 8 inches tall. When the cloves stop sprouting toss them into the compost bin and pot up another 10 cloves.
  • Mushrooms
    Growing mushrooms is pretty easy when you start with a kit. Everything you need comes in the package and all you need to do is keep the growing medium moist. Heck, you don’t even have to take these mushroom growing kits from Peaceful Valley out of the box.

Mythological Amaryllis

In Greek mythology Amaryllis was a lovesick shepherdess who stood at the door of her intended every night piercing her heart with a golden arrow. From her wounds sprung an exquisite flower.

Now that’s what I call the hard way to grow these gorgeous blooms. Unlike the Amaryllis in Greek mythology you can grow dramatic blooms this winter without a single puncture to the heart. Simply pot up a few bulbs this fall. With a little water and sunshine you’ll have breathtaking blooms in just over a month.

Here are a few varieties I’m trying this year. I feel certain that if Amaryllis had these to offer her flower-loving beau her fate would have been much rosier.

Amaryllis Dancing Queen

Clockwise from left: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Double Dragon’, ‘Blossom Peacock’.

Amaryllis Clown

Amaryllis ‘Clown’

Amaryllis Varieties

Clockwise from left: ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Vera’, ‘Elvas’.

 

Fabulous Tobi Fairley Giveaway

Congratulations to Marilyn Herdon! She is the randomly selected winner of Tobi’s St. Nick Pillow. Woot woot!

Designer Tobi Fairley joins us today on my blog to spread some holiday cheer with a special giveaway – a pillow from her Saint Nick collection.

Hello, friends and fans of Allen!

Over at my blog, I’m giving thanks for all sorts of wonderful things in my life: people, places, opportunities, experiences, transformations, and more. I am so grateful for wonderful friends like Allen, with whom I can share big ideas about design, entertaining, food, and the outdoors! Another HUGE part of my gratitude is for the pleasure of giving, so I want to give something special to one of you this week to kick-off your holiday season!

If you leave a comment on this post telling Allen and me what you’re giving thanks for this week, you’ll be entered to win one of my Tobi Fairley Home pillows from the Saint Nick collection! The winner will be selected by random draw on Wednesday 12/05/12.

Sometimes an accent pillow is ALL it takes to make a sofa or chair festive and fun for the holiday season!

Find more inspiration from my Pinterest board: Holiday Treats & Decor

(like this sweet pic…)

Best of luck!

Xo,

Christmas Comes Early

“What do you do every day?” It’s a question I’ve been asked, always politely, throughout my entire career. And it is a fair question. Do I spend all my time in the garden, making recipes, or choosing paint colors? Do I have an army of workers running crazy while I sit back and drink hot cocoa? Do I spend one day a week writing, another filming, another speaking, and another managing my farm?

Honestly, it’s a little bit of each of those (with the exception of the hot cocoa. In Arkansas there is a small window of time when it’s cold enough to drink hot cocoa.). The average week involves all of those details, but usually there’s a little something extra thrown into the mix.

Recently, it was shooting a commercial for my Holiday Collection with Berry Family of Nurseries. Filming is a part of daily life at the Garden Home, but we decided to rent out a studio for a new look for this commercial.

Here are a few things I learned about making commercials:

You have to take your shoes off when walking on an all-white set, otherwise you track dirt onto the set. If you do it correctly, though, the magic of television can turn an empty set into a fully decorated room in the snap of a finger.

It’s better to just bring most of the shirts in your closet, because you never know what is “holiday appropriate,” especially when it’s still 80 degrees outside.

Even a small amount of greenery can get you into the Christmas spirit, especially when the greenery was flown in just that morning from the Cascade Mountains in western Oregon.

It takes a lot of people to make a commercial come together. Luckily, I’ve got a very talented crew.

Five hours, three cups of coffee, one rented studio, a dozen set changes, 10 different wreaths, and a crew of 8 people later, we had a commercial.

Well, let me rephrase that. We had the footage for a commercial, and now it falls to the editing team back at the office. And I will say this much- I can’t wait to see what they produce.


Twigs, Barks and Berries

The Farmer’s Almanac had it right when they predicted a mild winter for Arkansas. We’ve only had a handful of nights below freezing and just one dusting of snow. That’s quite a difference from last year’s numerous winter storms.

This year’s more peaceful weather gives me more opportunities to be outdoors enjoying the quiet beauty in the garden.

The sister oaks. I love the bare, dark branches against the grey sky.

One of my favorite winter shrubs is Ilex decidua, a deciduous holly.

Red stems of 'Princess' peach trees.

I leave ornamental grasses uncut through winter for texture and wildlife. I'll cut them back in early February.

Arborvitae offers color throughout winter.

Get to Cleaning

One downside to living on a farm is I track in a lot of dirt. Everything in my house collects dust; I mean everything including my houseplants. Aside from looking grungy, a dirty plant can’t breathe because the pores in the leaves clog up. The solution is simple; give them a bath.

For small to medium plants you can just wash the leaves by wiping with a sponge or cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Add a little soap if the dust is really encrusted, but make sure you rinse it off. You can also wash houseplants at the sink. Hold your hands over the top of the pot to keep the soil in, and gently wash the foliage.

Or how about a shower? You can put large plants in the shower, but be easy with the water pressure. You don’t want to damage the leaves.

Now these techniques don’t apply to all plants. Plants with fuzzy leaves like African violets resent having water on their foliage. Use a dry brush to remove the dust.

Now remember whenever you are using these techniques involving soap, be sure you get it all rinsed off.

The next time you’re giving your plants a little TLC; don’t forget to give them a bath.

 

Winter Solstice

If you’ve been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD), take heart because the winter solstice is tomorrow. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year and marks the start of winter. It also signals the beginning of more daylight hours, which is certainly reason to celebrate!

To mark the day I like to get my hands in the soil. Weather permitting, I’ll putter around the garden or I’ll plant something indoors like paperwhite bulbs or some sweetpea seed for placing in a cold frame. At dusk I’ll watch the sunset, turn on the Christmas tree lights and make a mental note that spring is just 90 days away.