Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winter Container Designs

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While I'm technically now in the cut Christmas Tree department they needed help in the custom container section keeping the tables full so I've been working with evergreen boughs and the like for the past few days now.

Here are two I did yesterday that follow the same basic design:

I started with a bundle of BC Noble Fir for each container (3 boughs) placed upright and leaning slightly back (the boughs curve so it's tricky to do any other way but this works well enough). BC Cedar (not sure if it's the cedar we sell (Thuja occ.) or maybe another Thuja or maybe a cypress/false cypress or whatever but that's what it's shipped to us as) makes a nice skirt for the pots - I used 3 bunches split between the 4 containers.

In the first container I used 5 pussy willow branches per pot. A large ornamental ball on a stick and large gold snowflake made a nice focal point while the "everlasting" berries and white tipped pinecones toned it down a bit and added a more natural feel.

In the second container I used 5 Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) branches per pot (note - these can root - from last year I spent less than $10 on dogwood branches and got two shrubs out of it just by sticking them in dirt in November - actually I'd be surprised if the willow didn't also root). A large sugar cone pine per container paired with a few more or the same berries in a bed of Magnolia leaves with small red grapevine balls for balance completed the more natural looking container.

Now these all came to a retail price of around $69.99 per pot - I will post my own that I will make out of Ontario greens (mine stayed green into April last year while the BC stuff browned by March) for $20 to $30.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Streptocarpus

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My mom bought me a Streptocarpus 'Ink Blot' on Sunday - very small plant with only 3 leaves and not close to flowering I'd expect, not for a while anyway but so excited! I love finding something online, that elusive (by that I mean not common - won't ever find it in a grocery store, rare in a store that knows their plants) species or cultivar that's just amazing and then actually getting that plant. Hopefully recent success with Streptocarpus will stay with us long enough for this plant to take off.

I will have a few interesting pictures coming up of other gesneriads in flower (it just happens that that is the largest family of plants represented in my house at the moment) including something I've never seen that promises to be strange and unusual.

I also have another batch of November colour pictures from work and took a trip to the Toronto Zoo on Saturday from which I've got a few more pictures of Grasses and whatnot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November colour pictures

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Wandered around at work today taking shots with my phone of things that caught my eye. Problem with writing a post after a day away from work at this time of year is that you can come back to find plants that looked great have now lost their leaves but new plants will usually be there to take their place. Sorry for the crappy shots but as mentioned I was shooting with my phone. They get the point across though.

Malus (Crabapple) 'Red Jewel'

Very nice Crabapple - stays fairly compact and has nice white flowers & green leaves. A refreshing change in a world of dark pink on purple crabapples. There are few plants that can compete with a mature crabapple in November, especially one like this.

Hamamelis virginiana (Common Witchhazel)

I'd never been a huge fan of these. Noticed some wire-basket sized shrubs maybe 6' tall in full flower though and they certainly got the point across fast. Nice plants.

Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' (Silverleaf Dogwood)

Very common variety but I'd say it deserves to be common. You've got true 4 season interest from this plant - variegated leaves, flowers in spring, berries in late summer, nice fall colour and red stems that will look great all winter.

Cornus alba 'Bud's Yellow'

More dogwoods. What can I say, I'm a fan. This is slightly less exciting through most of the year but looks great through winter.

Acer platanoides

Again not a huge Norway Maple fan and was disappointed this morning to see that almost all of them actually had dropped their leaves... Found this one on my way home from work though - I guess maybe it's a little more sheltered from the wind than many others?

Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald N Gold' (and sometimes hot pink)

Nice colour. Don't like this one during the summer (more a fan of the larger leaved varieties like 'Canadale Gold' & 'Country Gold' but I've yet to see them come close to the colour of 'Emerald N Gold.' Apparently these are delicious for deer.

More pictures to come later in the week probably of more similar but fewer leaves. Maybe Friday. Things are winding down outside and I can't say I've got much going on inside either right now so I'm going to pace myself a little more but still aim for a decent number of posts.

Monday, November 2, 2009


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Well I suppose this will be a brief update but something anyway. It is November now and some strong winds a few nights ago have knocked the leaves off almost all trees and a good number of shrubs are looking pretty bare now too.

A few trees and shrubs I've noticed still going strong for leaf colour:

Pyrus calleryana (Ornamental Pear) - Will get a picture tomorrow.

Quercus robur Fastigiata (Pyramidal English Oak) - some have already turned their winter brown but others are still showing off their yellow fall colour.

Acer platanoides - (Not a fan of this tree) Norway maples are still holding onto their yellow leaves while most of the more attractive A. rubrum, A. x Freemanii, & Acer saccharum have already dropped theirs.

Viburnum spp. - Have noticed good colour on V. plicatum 'Marisii,' V. lantana, V. judii, V. x juddii & V. x carlcephalum (Fragrant Snowball). V. trilobum is slightly more confusing - at work they all dropped their leaves long ago but one planted near my house has barely changed colour but when it does it will be great as well. Most Viburnums seem to look great fairly late into fall.

Juniper spp. - Mainly spreaders such as 'Blue Chip' (Blue spreader turns blue-purple in fall/winter - most blue junipers take this colour on to at least some degree which looks good on spreaders but not so great on upright junipers) and 'Compact Andorra' (Green spreader turns reddish in fall).

Euonymus alatus (burning bush)/E. fortunei ("Euonymus") - The former may or may not have lost its leaves depending on how much wind they've gotten but the latter should (being mostly evergreen) still have their leaves... in their case though they may or may not have fall colour. Have seen some nice pinks and purples on some of these though.

Spirea spp. - depends a lot on variety but most are looking their best now - 'Thor' and 'Snow Storm' which I wrote about earlier have list their leaves but others are still going strong. Recently added to my personal favourite list for Spireas is 'Snowmound' for its upright/arched branching and good fall colour.

Will follow up with pictures + Plants with berries & bark.