I’m a Christmas Tree Genius! Than Again, Maybe Not.

This morning I realized the house we bought in April and have been madly in love with ever since, was, in fact, a terrible mistake.

Simply put, there is no room for the Christmas tree.

Back in April all I could think of was the garden. Where the Christmas tree would go was the furthest thing from my mind.

But now, standing in the living room in late November, with the partially assembled tree swelling up like an inflatable elephant in a mouse house, it was clear there was only one viable solution.

Put the house back on the market and find another place to live. Preferably within a week, so as not to lose too much decorating time.

And breathe.

I sat down to consider other options, trying to ignore the fact that when I pulled the leg rest out on the couch, my toes were in the tree.

There was only one spot the tree could go and it simply didn’t fit.

I then landed on a second solution.

We would close in the deck, knock out the wall of the living room and voila! There would now be space for the tree in all its glory.

Again, we would have to build this new addition within a week so as not to slow down my decorating schedule.

If only the tree were half as wide, it would have fit perfectly.

And then I had a third idea, only this time it was a really good one.

I would simply leave off the branches on one half of the tree and smoosh it against the wall.

Not only did this solution work, it looks fabulous. You would never guess the entire tree wasn’t there. Only the bottom four rows needed to be halved. Once I got to the top I was able to fit the branches all the way around. This configuration also made the tree far easier to string the lights and garland on.

I figured I had landed on a solution of genius proportions. Well, maybe not genius exactly, but moderately inventive and game changing.

A quick google proved otherwise. Turns out “my” idea has been done plenty of times before. What is that old saying? Necessity is the mother of all inventions. In fact, you can even buy trees already halved.

While I’m a little disappointed my idea wasn’t unique, I am beyond relieved that we don’t have to move or build an addition. So is Darcy.

 

 

 

Which is the Most Fragrant Sweet Pea in the World?

The Matucana! This heady heirloom is also known as the original sweet pea. It wafts an intoxicating 10/10 scent from gorgeous violet and deep maroon coloured petals. The blossoms are smaller than most but make up for their lack of size with intense colour and fragrance. Many gardeners prefer the diminutive blossoms for their tabletop displays. And, of course, the perfume is unmatched.

Image from West Coast Seeds

One legend has it that Sicilian Monk Franciscus Cupani introduced the seed to Britain from plants found in Italy in the early 1700’s. Another widely accepted theory has the variety being brought to Europe from Peru, which has a city that shares the Matucana moniker.

Wherever its origins, we know for certain the Matucana Sweet Pea is the undisputed title holder of the world’s most perfumed sweet pea in existence!

How Do Earthworms Survive Winter?

Night crawlers, one of the most common earthworms in North America, survive winter by crawling below the frost table. These soil dwellers are capable of burrowing more than six feet (1.83 metres) below the earth’s surface.

If you have an indoor compost bin, you know all about red wigglers. They are voracious vegetable scrap munching machines that thrive in temperatures between 55 – 77 degrees F (12 – 25 degrees C) making them the compost bin worm of choice.

Can red wigglers survive winter in your outdoor compost bin? How about if you return them to the wild aka your garden bed?

The answer in both cases is yes.

And no.

Red wigglers are fabulous compost producers because they munch on anything that lands on the soil’s surface. This is their favoured ground. When the temperatures drop, red wigglers remain optimistically near the soil’s surface, which unfortunately leads to their demise.

In other words, they freeze to death.

The good news is nature has their survival covered.

Red Wigglers lay numerous eggs wrapped in a sort of cocoon designed to remain viable through the cold winter. Come spring, the eggs hatch and a new generation of red wigglers emerge for the summer season.

*Note – releasing red wigglers into the forest can have a devastating impact on the environment. To find out more check out our article Never Dump Your Worms on the Forest Floor 

 

Planting Bulbs; Which Way Is Up and What to Do If You Can’t Tell

If you look closely at a bulb you will see that one end has “hairs” or roots while the other end has a dot or a small tip that come spring, will (hopefully) poke its way up through the ground.

Plant bulbs root or hairy end down at a depth that equals about three to four times the size of the bulb. A one inch bulb should be planted three or four inches deep. This ensures the bulb is both well protected over winter and also that it will be sufficiently anchored in the ground to support all that lush top growth come summer.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell which end is up, especially if you are new to the gardening game.

No worries! Simply place the bulb on its side and it will figure out the rest.

 

Why Do Flowers Smell?

It’s all about the birds and the bees…and some other bugs and bats. Flowers give off different scents designed to attract the specific pollinator that will ensure the proliferation of its species.

Some smell lovely and invite pretty pollinators like hummingbirds and bees.

Others, such as Rafflesia arnoldii the largest flower in the world send out the wafting scent of rotting meat with undertones of feces. Mmmmm. While not the bloom of choice for the centerpiece on a dining room table, it succeeds in attracting the proper pollinators. In this case flies and beetles that enjoy laying their eggs in rotting carcasses or feces!

The largest flower in the world is the Rafflesia arnoldii growing up to one meter (three feet) across and weighing up to 6.8 kilograms (15 pounds). It smells awful, but it works.

Enjoy tequila? Or using Agave as a sugar substitute? Give thanks to bats! These underappreciated pollinators (and voracious mosquito eaters) are responsible for pollinating agave which is used to make both tequila and the popular sugar substitute. Agave blossoms lure bats in by blooming at night and giving off a smell similar to rotting fruit.

It takes all kinds of scents and pollinators to make the earth the wondrous place it is and if you are lucky enough to have a garden what a wonderful opportunity to be a part of it all!

 

Creating a scented garden is not only a delight for the olfactory senses, it adds value to your garden experience by attracting pollinators. As if breathing in the rich, natural, perfume of blossoms isn’t reward enough, there is nothing more relaxing than working in a garden while watching the lazy flutter of a butterfly, listening to the hum of bees or watching hummingbirds dart about like winged jewels. Knowing you helped create the perfumed smorgasbord only makes it all the more beautiful.

 

24 Scented Flowers for Spring, Summer and Fall

Lily of the Valley

SPRING

  1. Apple Blossoms (tree)
  2. Daphne odora (perennial)
  3. Grape Hyacinth Muscari armeniacum (perennial bulb)
  4. Lilac (shrub)
  5. Lily of the Valley (perennial)
  6. Primrose (choose white or yellow as blues and reds have little to no scent) (perennial)
  7. Wallflowers (short-lived perennials often grown as annuals)
  8. Violets Sweet Violet Viola odorata (perennial)

 

Sweet William offers up a wonderful clove-like scent

SUMMER

  1. Honeysuckle (vine)
  2. Jasmine (vine)
  3. Lilies (perennial)
  4. Lavender (perennial in warmer climates; annual in colder gardens)
  5. Mock Orange (shrub)
  6. Nicotiana (annual)
  7. Roses (perennial)
  8. Stocks Evening Scented (annual)
  9. Sweet Alyssum (annual)
  10. Sweet Peas (traditionally an annual though a few perennial varieties do exist)
  11. Sweet William (biannual)
  12. Valerian (perennial and can be somewhat invasive)

 

Chrysanthemums

FALL

  1. Chrysanthemum (perennial)
  2. Hymalayan Balsam (annual)
  3. Katsura (tree) Cercidiphyllum japonicum
  4. Phlox (annuals and perennials)

Always check tags and packages to ensure you are choosing a fragrant variety. Many formerly dependable scented flowers, such as Sweet Peas (annual) and roses (perennial) have been bred up for eye appeal, losing much in the way of scent. A quick check of the label should tell you if you are, indeed, choosing a scented variety.

While we have included in brackets whether the plant is an annual, perennial, biannual, shrub or tree always check the garden zone to be sure how the plant will perform in your particular growing area.

 

How to Spot the Best Onion Sets for your Garden

A perfect marble sized onion set...the smaller the better!

A perfect marble sized onion set…the smaller the better!

When choosing onion sets always look for small marble sized ones. These will grow into large, firm, onions with oodles of storage life. The big sets will end up going to seed and producing an onion that never firms up and rots in storage.

Onion sets are simply onions started from seed and then harvested before the bulbs fully mature. They are then carefully stored and replanted the following year for a quicker harvest of onions.

Onion sets are simply onions started from seed and then harvested before the bulbs fully mature. They are then carefully stored and replanted the following year for a quicker harvest of onions.

Unscrupulous sellers will pack those mesh bags with big onion sets to make up the weight with fewer bulbs. Unsuspecting buyers will see the big sets and think they’re better because they’re bigger. Instead those are onions that will really make you cry!

The bigger the onion bulb the quicker it will set seed

The bigger the onion bulb the quicker it will set seed

 

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