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Chloe Smith

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Tips for Easy At-Home Water Conservation

Posted by Chloe Smith

We use water for almost everything. Water is such an integral part of our day that it is easy to overlook how much water we actually use. Simple adjustments in our habits can have a huge effect on our water bill & the environment. Here are some tips for easy at-home water conservation.

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Tags: General, Environmentally Friendly

What the heck is a Heucherella?

Posted by Chloe Smith

I keep seeing this word ‘heucherella,’ is this a typo? Should it say heuchera? If you have ever found yourself asking, ‘what in the heck is a heucherella?’ than this blog post is for you!

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Tags: Plants, Perennials

5 Great Boxwood Alternatives

Posted by Chloe Smith

Boxwoods are incredibly popular in the landscape, but could the recent appearance of boxwood blight threaten their place in our gardens? Only time will tell how devastating boxwood blight will be to the boxwood population. Until then it might be good to consider these 5 great boxwood alternatives that are not susceptible to the fungal pathogen that causes boxwood blight.

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Evergreens, Shrubs

5 Great Daylilies to Plant Instead of ‘Stella de Oro’

Posted by Chloe Smith

Daylilies are a tried and true landscape plant, but why do we tend to limit ourselves to planting the same cultivar over and over? There are over 89,000 registered cultivars of daylilies, so let's get started! 

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Perennials

Great Roses for Small Spaces

Posted by Chloe Smith

 Roses are an iconic landscape plant, but who has the space? Actually, we all do! With the release of several new series of great roses for small spaces, the beauty of landscape roses can be enjoyed by everyone! 

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Shrubs

6 Signs that Spring is Here

Posted by Chloe Smith

 Winter seems to last forever, especially with the promise of spring plants right around the corner. Here are 6 signs that spring is here, or awfully close!

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Tags: General, Spring

5 Great Plants for Rain Gardens

Posted by Chloe Smith

Did you know that rainwater runoff contributes to 70% of water pollution? Plants are here to help! A simple installation of a rain garden can remove up to 90% of pollutants from rainwater runoff, not to mention the beauty & biodiversity they provide to the landscape. With rain gardens, everybody wins!

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Tags: Plants, General, Environmentally Friendly

Red Flowered Hydrangea: Summer Crush™ & Cherry Explosion (comparison)

Posted by Chloe Smith

 While an art critic would argue that these are not truly red flowers, this deep pink is the closest thing we have to a red hydrangea flower currently on the market. There are two new cultivars in the mix trying to maximize a hydrangea’s red potential. Cherry Explosion was released in 2017 by Star Roses & Plants. Summer Crush will be available in garden centers in 2019 as part of Bailey Nurseries’ Endless Summer® collection. With multiple recent releases, red hydrangeas will be a trending topic for consumers in the next few years.

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Tags: Plants, Branded Plants, Shrubs

What's So Great About the Ginkgo Tree?

Posted by Chloe Smith

Great might be an understatement. I must confess, I have always been partial to gingko trees. Their leaves are unlike any other tree in the landscape, but the more I learn about ginkgo trees, the more I realize how truly fascinating this tree really is.

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Tags: Plants, Trees

The 6 Best Evergreens for Live Holiday Wreaths

Posted by Chloe Smith

This blog post briefly explains how to make a live holiday wreath and list the best evergreens for live holiday wreaths. It analyzes each plant material’s pros and cons, gives ideas for additional decorations, and hopefully inspires your own creativity to make a unique and beautiful holiday wreath. For more information, please visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens website.

Live holiday wreaths are elegant and classic home decor. In today’s fast paced culture, wreath making is a dying art, but making your own holiday wreath is simple, cheap, and you probably have trees and shrubs already in your yard that you can use! It’s a great winter activity to partake in with your kids, grandkids, parents, sibling, or significant other while simultaneously getting your nature fix in the cold winter months.

 

As I mentioned before, making a holiday wreath is simple and cheap, especially if you use greenery harvested from your yard. To make a wreath, you need a frame, paddle wire, scissors, greenery, and any decorations your heart desires. The frame and paddle wire can be purchased most places that craft supplies are sold, including Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Once you have your materials, tie the end of your paddle wire on the frame. Gather a bundle of greenery and lay it on your frame while wrapping the paddle wire around the base of the bundle to tightly secure it to the frame. Don’t cut your paddle wire until the very end, as this will help the process flow more smoothly. After your first bundle is secure, simply start layering in more bundles until you have made it all the way around your frame as illustrated in the photos above. Perhaps the hardest part about making a live holiday wreath is choosing what greenery to start with!

 

#1: Arborvitae

Arborvitae make an excellent choice for wreath making because they will not shed any needles like some of the more traditional options. Arborvitae have flat leaves. The lack of depth of arborvitae foliage is a good choice if you intend on adding a lot of additional decorations to your wreath. Since arborvitae have cultivars with yellow foliage, this gives you an additional color option that you can’t get with your classic conifers. The effect is a very regal wreath that appears almost golden. It is perfect option for an autumn or thanksgiving wreath.

 

#2 White Pine

              White Pine is a great choice for holiday wreaths. It will hold its needles for a long time without shattering, unlike spruce which will shatter almost immediately once you bring it inside to the warm temperatures. The texture of a white pine wreath is incredibly fine and will give your wreath a unique look. It appears silky smooth, and it actually feels pretty nice too! This makes it a great wreath option if you have kids running around the house and you don’t want them to poke themselves on something sharper like spruce or juniper.

 

#3 Douglas Fir

              Douglas fir is another evergreen that will hold its needles for a long time. If you are going for the more traditional look, this is the way to go, since most Christmas trees on the market are Douglas fir. Douglas fir needles are flattened on one side and radiate on the other side, making it easy to lay them flat on your wreath frame while simultaneously giving you a good amount of volume. 

 

 

#4 Boxwood

              Boxwoods have small leaves which makes a nice tidy looking wreath, if that is the style you are looking for. Additionally, boxwood leaves won’t shatter making them a long-lasting option. In ideal circumstances, a boxwood wreath could last up to 2 months. This wreath is perfect for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time for upkeep and revitalization of their wreaths throughout the season. Pair it with a strand of LED lights for a simple and elegant display.

 

#5 Red Twig Dogwood

              One of my favorite new trends is holiday wreaths made with red twig dogwoods! Personally, I love red twig dogwood; I love anything with good winter interest. While this is not the route you want to go if you’re looking for a traditional wreath, I think this is great if you are looking to shake up your holiday decorations. The advantage to a wreath like this is that it will not drop leaves and leave a mess in your house.  You could also use yellow twig dogwood if you are feeling especially adventurous with your color palette.

 

#6 Holly

              An obvious advantage to making a wreath with holly is, of course, the berries. The berries might fall before you are done displaying your wreath, so make sure you don’t have it hanging over a white carpet. This is one you will probably want to keep on your front door instead of inside the house. The shiny foliage creates a really stunning display especially if you incorporate variegated cultivars like the photo on the left. I do not recommend using deciduous holly as your only plant material, since the shelf life would be very short. However, deciduous holly berries incorporated into a wreath with something like fir or pine would be perfect.

 

BONUS: Herbs

              Another option you have at your disposal as the crafty gardener you are is to incorporate dried herbs into your wreaths. The wreath pictured to the left is made of both rosemary and lavender. The advantage to using herbs in your wreaths is definitely the fragrance. It’s also a fun addition to holiday décor in your kitchen, since you can pull pieces off to use as you cook. 

 

Any of the plants listed above would make a great holiday wreath, however they are by no means your only options. Don’t be afraid to mix and match evergreens to get a variety of textures in your wreath. Let your creativity flow! The best part about making your own live wreath is adding extra little decorations, yet another chance to be creative. You can use ribbon and decorations from the store, or you can scavenge in your yard some more. Things like dried hydrangea flowers, pinecones, grass seed heads, viburnum berries, or acorns make great additions. Other store-bought options are led lights, dried fruit, or cinnamon sticks. These items can be wired in as you make your wreath or wired in separately at the end.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with plants that you aren’t sure about. If it doesn’t work you can always replace it with something else latter. Most importantly, have fun. Connecting with nature in any way you can is a fun and fulfilling experience. Nothing will make you appreciate the plants in your yard more than finding a new and exciting purpose for them.

Have you gotten creative with a live wreath? Let us know in the comments!  

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Tags: Evergreens, Winter