The holidays can get away from us pretty easily with the many things that suddenly appear on the to-do list. There are some easy things you can do however to bring the magic of the holidays into your home without spending a lot of time or money. Here are some of my my fool-proof tips for making your home look holiday ready!
First the holiday pots! I know I have harped on this before, but it really is the easiest way to perk your home up for the season. Pick up a readymade pot of fresh greens, pot up a living evergreen that you can plant into the ground later or make up your own holiday container creation.
Making your own is easy – here’s a basic list of supplies to get you started:
- 3 Evergreen bundles (1 cedar for skirting the edge, 2 other varieties, different textures, like pine and fir)
- Spruce top or branches for height
- 2 outdoor-safe berry picks
- 3 pine cones
Add to the basic recipe as much as you want: unbreakable outdoor ornaments, magnolia or juniper sprigs, lights or even a can of snow flock can be fun!
Fresh roping is another essential decorating tool for me. I always get several coils and put it everywhere – inside and out. Outside, wrap it up the banister and around the door, wind extra pieces around the light fixture and to fill in around the holiday pots you just made. Inside, drape roping over the sink window and mirrors; tuck sprigs in the guest bath, under place settings and on holiday packages.
For an easy centerpiece, find a large low bowl, set a single poinsettia (or 3 if they’re small) in the center, coil white pine roping around them to cover their pots and tuck pinecones in to fill in any gaps.
Firs and cedars are the most fragrant, however pine and boxwood tend to last longer. Spraying greens with an anti-desiccant, such as Wilt-stop, will keep them fresher longer by sealing in the moisture, but does also seal in some of that fragrance too.
Additionally, think about buying extra and keeping a coil or two in a window well outside- when the first batch dries out, simply switch it out with the fresh.
Pot up some Amaryllis and Paperwhite bulbs to enjoy all winter long. These non-hardy bulbs are an easy, goof-proof way to have indoor blooms for months.
Paperwhites usually take about 4-6 weeks from bulb to bloom. Buy extra and start a second, or even a third batch, every couple weeks to have constant white flowers – they look great in a kitchen window!
- Ziva: the original and still the favorite
- Ariel: a shorter version of the original
- Inbal: a less fragrant paperwhite
Rock or soil? If potting into a jar or vase (something without drain holes) use pea gravel or rock. If your pot has holes potting soil will be best.
Amaryllis are the king of winter blooms with their large green leaves and velvety flowers. ‘Red Lion’ is the all-time deep red classic but try other varieties too – whites, pinks and peach or variations of these in double and single blooms.
You can also find Erin’s article in the December issue of the The Kansas City Gardener.
Now that we are full swing into fall, if you’re like me you are going to go to bed on Halloween night and wake up on January 1 with some well-rotted Jack-O-Lanterns. And while we might be sad at the thought of another season ending, wipe those tears away, because now is the best time to get things planted, fed and decorated for the season.
First things first- it’s time to refresh the front pots! Many annuals like Petunias, Geraniums and ‘Snow Princess’ Alyssum can take shockingly cool temps so salvage what you can and add Ornamental Cabbage, pumpkins and gourds, Creeping Jenny, Pansies and Ivy to jazz things up.
Now is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs. The ground around here won’t freeze solid until at least January (if at all) and anything you can plant can start to establish before the heat of summer. Some great plants to add fall color are Sweetspire, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Tiger Eye Sumac, Blackgum, Red Maple, Gingko, Beautyberry, Hardy Geranium, perennial Plumbago, Amsonia and Blueberries.
Every spring I tell myself that next year will be the year I plant banks of spring-blooming Tulips. But while Tulips are beautiful, here in the Midwest they should be treated more like an annual. Try Alliums and Daffodils instead! Both are bunny and deer resistant and reliably perennial! Allium, an ornamental onion, is most popular as the giant ‘Globemaster’ but available in many sizes and shades. And try planting white daffodils for an unexpected and elegant pop of spring color. All spring blooming bulbs need a cold period to bloom and so must be planted now. Its super easy – plant bulbs noses in the air, about 3 times deeper than the height of the bulb and just wait for the show.
Just because you’ve pulled out your tomatoes does not mean that the veggie season is over. Many veggies not only tolerate but perform best in cooler temps. Now is the time to grow lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, kale, mustard, leeks, garlic and onions. Think of the salads and soups this fall! If temperatures dip below freezing throw a frost blanket over the tender leaves, especially lettuce, or try your hand at constructing a cold frame by hinging windows on the raised bed.
The longer evenings of fall are just calling out for candlelight. But with kids… and pets…and curtains… real-flame candles can cause a major fire hazard. I am hooked on Luminara candles! They are a battery operated candle with such a realistic flame I guarantee someone will try to blow it out! Put some in lanterns by your front door and more inside in sconces, on the mantle- anywhere that reflects the dancing flame.
If you only feed your lawn once, now is the time. In fall and winter, grass plants naturally want to thicken up, putting their energy into root and stem development. Simply put – grass will eat up all the food you give it without growing tall. Quick-release, high-nitrogen fertilizer, often called Winterizer, should be applied 2-3 times, 4 weeks apart.
You can also find Erin’s article in the November issue of the The Kansas City Gardener.
Now that it is finally starting to feel like fall it’s time to really get your home ready.
We have some of the best Asters we’ve ever grown. They are extremely hardy, double flowering blooms lasting longer and attract fewer insects. Growing in full sun-half shade, these blue and fuchsia colors are not traditionally found in mums, giving you the unique blue color in the fall. Asters are self-branching dwarf plants and won’t get out of control if you want to plant them in you garden.