Saturday, November 28, 2009

O Christmas Tree!!!

Yesterday was an exciting day down at the store... our Christmas trees came in! Childhood memories came rushing back as I stood before the selection- wondering which should be the tree to grace my living room. Although I usually settle on a noble fir, I like to look at all the other beautiful varieties. Noble, Grand, Douglas & Frasier Firs. Have any of you ever put up a frasier fir??? This is a new variety to us this year, and they are GORGEOUS. They have a silvery tinge to there graceful branches. (I just might have to put up two trees this year!)

Something useful: I usually end up cutting a few branches off the bottom of the tree to make plenty of room for presents- Use the extra greens for decorating tops of tables or shelves!

I still have a few things on my list to prepare for the holiday season... put up the tree (of course!), gather greens to make garland, bring home poinsettias, send out Christmas cards, buy ingredients for holiday treats, and I can't forget to mention the clove plugged oranges (lovely to set among garland, or even stacked in a pretty bowl on your counter). Did I mention shopping??? I cannot boast about being ahead in that respect...

I hope your are enjoying the season!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Cactus

I love houseplants, and love to have at least one blooming houseplant all through the the year. Christmas cactus are a great pick for November-December blooms!

A little history...

The holiday cacti were originally forest cacti, growing at elevations between 3300 to 5600 feet above sea level in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America. They are called Flor de maio (May Flower) in Brazil.

Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids, first bred about 150 years ago in England.


Our Christmas cacti do best when kept in bright/indirect sunlight. We keep them on a 10-day watering schedule: water every 10 days, fertilizing (with Schultz Cactus fertilizer) every other time watered. They like to dry out inbetween waterings. To figure out the best spot and watering schedule for your cacti it will be a bit of trial and error. Cacti kept in an area where they get a draft and more light may need watering more than every 10 days, and cacti kept in spots with less light and little air circulation may not need watering as often as every 10 days. I have found that the most important thing is consistency. Figure out your watering/fertilizing schedule and stick to it.

Some say that Christmas cacti need a bit of a cold snap (6-8 wks. at 50-57 degrees Farenheit) in order to bloom. I have not found this to be the case. As long as the cacti get consistent care, they have always bloomed on time for me!

When the time comes to repot your Chritmas cactus, be sure not to upset the roots too much and use a good quality cactus soil (they like a sandier soil which allows for better drainage).

I have propagated a lot of houseplants, but have never tried Christmas cactus. So, this morning I looked up precisely how to do it and tried it out! I will let you know how it goes!

This is the info I found: Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and plant it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.

Tough and long-lived, Christmas cactus can be passed easily from one generation to the next, blooming for family gatherings and cheering the darkening winter days.

We hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Open House!

This is just a glimpse of what we have for you at this years Holiday Open House! We have a beautiful array of things for you to see! We hope to see you there Friday or Saturday (or both!) 8am-5pm!

We have been working hard to make the store sparkle and shine with Christmas! Stop by to say hi and enjoy a latte and treat! We hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winter Interest

I was looking around in my yard yesterday taking note of areas that need just a little adjustment as well as areas that need some major improvements. It reminded me of a basic design principle that is easy to pinpoint this time of year: all-season interest. Now that the leaves have mostly fallen, we can see how our designs are doing when it comes to evergreens and beautifully colored bark. (HINT: Don't cut back your ornamental grasses until spring! They keep there shape and look beautiful with a dusting of snow! )

So take a good look in your garden...

What do you see???

What you see now, is what you will be looking at for the next few months. Are you happy with the winter interest in your garden? The winter garden can be equally as beautiful as all other seasons if planted just right! Personally, I am going to make a last-ditch effort to get a few more evergreens into my landscape (at least within eye-shot of my windows!). I want to be able to enjoy my garden all the way to the last drop- whether working in it or looking at it covered in snow from my windows!

Happy fall planting!

P.S. Time to have your sprinklers blown out if you haven't had it done yet! All hoses are coiled up and stored away for the winter as well! Bring on the snow!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Holly and the Ivy

I love ivy. Easy to care for, versatile and beautiful...what more could you ask for? I always get newly inspired to use ivy in my decorating around this time of year because of it's dark green, shiny (thanks in part to my trusted can of leaf shine), evergreen leaves. I am so excited about some of the ways we are able to use it this year! Here are just a few examples...

Kissing Balls
Isn't that cute!? Used back in the Colonial days in America and was also a popular Christmas decoration during the Victorian era in England. It is the predecessor of the tradition of hanging mistletoe, and it symbolizes everlasting good luck. Young women who were caught under the decoration had to pay the price and give the gentleman who caught her there a kiss. Couples that kissed beneath the ball would stay together for the year and maybe even marry.


Wouldn't a wreath be pretty laid flat on a table with candles in the middle? Hanging inside or outside one of your doors would also bring a touch of festivity!

Ivy Birdcage

Who could resist the charm of this little ivy bird cage???
What a wonderful gift idea! Don't you think?

The tender ivy plant, bent, yet unbroken by the storms of life, not only upholds its own hopeful courage, but clings around the tempest-fallen oak, to speak hope to his faltering spirit, and shelter him from the returning blast of the storm." ~Ernestine Rose

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Natural Healing

It's here...the dreaded cold season.It is a time when we, again, look back to our gardens for help! Do you know what in your garden can help boost your immune system and help ward off the cold?? What about for allergies? Or curing a rash?
Herbal remedies have been around since the beginning, long before modern medicine made its debut. Obtained from plant leaves, bark, berries, and roots, they are an effective and natural way to protect you from getting sick!

A few examples now to get you started...

For the common cold...

Echinacea and Goldenseal are both immune boosters and natural antibiotics. If taken at the onset of a cold, they will hep prevent further symptoms. Commonly taken by pill or oil. (Do not take Goldenseal if you are pregnant).

Eucalyptus Oil, Rosemary Oil and Sage oil are used as an expectorant, loosening mucus, making it easier to expel from the chest. Put 5 drops in a hot bath or place 6 drops in 2 c. boiling water, place a towel over your head and inhale deeply through your nose for 5 minutes.

Ginger and Yarrow Tea are useful as well. Ginger is used to rid the body of mucus buildup in the sinuses, throat and lungs, while yarrow tea induces sweating which helps to lower fevers in colds and flu.

Red Clover blossoms steaped and used as a tea, has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties and is effective in relieving colds and dry, unproductive coughs.

Tea Tree Oil is effective for treating sinus issues and sore throats. Use as a gargle. A little goes a long way! Add 3-6 drops to warm water and use as gargle 3 times daily.

For allergies...

Chamomile tea is used to reduce the duration of allergy attacks and also as a calming agent. Gather leaves and steap in hot water. Strain and enjoy!

Thyme leaves break up congestion, as well as clear up sinusitis, laryngitis, throat infections and symptoms of the cold and flu. Heat 1 c. water with 1 oz. thyme leaves until boiling. Breathe in steam for 15 minutes.

Burdock, horseradish, dandelion, gingko biloba, stinging nettle and many more help to alleviate allergies!
For arthritis...
Alfalfa is considered a pain reliever. It is a storehouse for minerals which are vital for bone formation.

Stinging Nettle is a rich source of iron, calcium & folic acids.

Willow bark is used to treat pain, headache, fever and athritis.

Celery seed is useful to relieve inflammation and pain.

Parsley seeds can be used to make tea for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.

We are just skimming the surface- There are MANY more herbs that help treat many different conditions! We encourage you to research these natural ways of healing!

Now from personal experience...

As a child, I can not tell you how many weird things I ingested, swallowed, rubbed on, inhaled, gargled, and soaked in. At the time, my brother, sister and I thought our mom was just a little crazy (okay...a lot crazy) when she would carry around extra bags on our hikes to gather tree moss or a certain type of tree bark if found, but I now give her credit for it.
The stuff actually worked.

The most memorable for me was when our kitchen morphed into a distillery. We all got a good laugh at the quantities of fir bark and vodka that ended up there. But from it was churned out a fir bark sore throat remedy that we still use to this day. (I still wonder which ingredient actually does the curing!)

Another was an alder bark salve that became very popular among my brother's college roomates. With boys you inevitably get some kind of gross fungus, in this case it was Athletes Foot. The alder bark salve was the only thing that quickly worked to clear it up! It was in high demand! We use it for all sorts of different skin issues: chapped lips, dry nose from the constant blowing of it during a cold, dry skin, etc.

My mother has always been interested and drawn to all things natural. She made a friend, Darcy Williamson, in McCall, Idaho who has a book out 'Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains' (available in our store). It has been an invaluable volume in our library.

It's not that we never used modern medicine, but when you can gather from nature and see it working you can't help but love it! If any of you would like information about any specific health issue or herb, please leave a comment and we will post follow-ups!