Category Archives: Decorating

Cat Proofing the Sign Planter

This year was the worst. Because of the drought the sign planter stayed unplanted from November through January, and the cats noticed, notably Liam. There’s nothing worse than standing out front, helping a customer and seeing your cat, out of the corner of your eye, doing his business…ohhhhhh it was getting more and more agravating.

I didn’t want to plant pansies, simply because I wanted to have as many as possible for our customers. So, when some iceland poppies in cell pack flats became available, I grabbed a flat and planted them in the offending spot.

I wish I could say Liam took the hint. He did not. So, this past Saturday I took matters into my hands again, vowing to do all I could to keep him out. I’d already snatched him up repeatedly, toting him to the back of the greenhouse where the two litter boxes (cleaned religiously for them) resided. He would only hop out, give me a baleful look, and avoid me the rest of the day.

I had figured out my strategy the day before, and, on a sunny but cool Saturday morning, I got to work. Bert gathered pine cones from the side garden (I told him I needed a lot of them.). I pulled some tall, loose stems of the red twig dogwood and cut them to various lengths. There was a pot of washed pea gravel in the greenhouse, and I brought that outside too.

Bert began placing the pine cones between the tiny poppy plants, clustering them in various spots. When he had placed them all, I began arranging the red twig dogwood throughout the planter. This will fix him, I thought. Once the stems were in place, the pea gravel was distributed between the pinecones and branches, and, finally, a few faux fern fiddleheads were placed on either end.

Voila!!! A (hopefully) cat-proof planter. I will report back on how it worked.

By Kris Blevons

 

Decorated Pumpkins

Decorated PumpkinIt all began with my Mother’s 85th birthday in early October. She has macular degeneration and would rather stay close to home now.

Since I am in Birmingham and she is in Wisconsin, unfortunately, with this a busy time in the garden shop business, getting together on her birthday doesn’t happen anymore.

But she is on Facebook. I decided a couple of years ago to get her a Nook that she could use to listen to audio books, thinking it would be a perfect way to open her world. It also allows her, through Facebook, to see pictures of the garden shop and my garden. It has been a joy for her, and I’m thrilled!IMG_0285

So, with this in mind, I decided to decorate a pumpkin for her birthday and put a picture of me holding it on her timeline as her birthday gift from me. I’d seen lots of pictures of succulents on pumpkins (more on that later), but I wanted something bright and happy from me to her on her milestone day.

IMG_0445I chose a bright orange jack-o-lantern pumpkin, glued some cut flowers of gomphrena and mums to it along with a couple of okra pods, added  a few succulents, and tucked moss around the edge. I even cut a couple of tiny hosta leaves. Voila, the birthday pumpkin was born.IMG_0444

 

A few days later a customer came in with a picture of the aforementioned succulent topped pumpkins. They’ve been everywhere the last few years, in magazines and various places on line.

Easy to do but requiring lots of cut succulents, I’d stayed clear of getting into the making of them. I dutifully tried to emulate the white pumpkins in her picture with the succulents we had on hand.

IMG_0446

 

When they were finished, I set them on the display steps up front, where people could see them, and decided to make a few more. Here’s how they turned out. We had a few more orders that day as people saw them!

if you’d like to make a succulent topped pumpkin, choose a pumpkin and have fun! Any kind of moss can be used. I chose green sheet moss, gluing it to the top of the pumpkin.IMG_0413

 

Purchase or take cuttings from succulents you might have growing in your garden or pots and simply glue them to the moss. Succulent experts advise misting the cuttings once a week.

It’s also fun to add other decorative elements like the okra pods I used on my Mom’s pumpkin. Try tiny pinecones, acorns, and more to add interest. It’s only limited by your imagination!

If you’re in the area, and would like us to decorate a pumpkin for you, stop in and place an order!

By Kris Blevons

 

Decorating For Fall With Pumpkins And Gourds

Pumpkin StackEven if the temperatures have been slow to reflect fall, we are determined to celebrate a change of season.

The arrival of so many pumpkins and gourds in all sizes, shapes, and colors spur us on in our quest for the perfect choices for arranging in containers or to artfully stack at the front door.Pumpkin Display

 

 

Each year begins the same, with the first shipment unloaded and carefully placed, separated by variety. Long Island Cheese, Jharadales, Lumina, Fairytale and Cinderella pumpkins, Turk’s Turbans and the wonderfully bumpy Lunch Lady gourds (Yes,  they’re really called lunch ladies!) and more, all neatly set out.

PumpkinsSoon though, usually beginning with the second large delivery, all semblance of order gets tossed out the window, as we place pumpkin after pumpkin wherever we can find a spot.

That’s really how I like it best, with piles of orange, green, blue, cream, and white pumpkins creating a jumble of chaotic color in all shapes and sizes. It’s difficult to choose just one!Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

The cats soon discover new places to nap underneath and In the shade of the raised platforms we use for display of this beautiful fall harvest, coming out only when little ones spy them at eye level.

Long, vining stems of bittersweet hang above, another decorative staple of the season. For over 25 years they’ve been hand cut for us from our North Carolina supplier high in the mountains.Cloche with Mini White Pumpkin

Mini pumpkins and tiny gourds find homes in all manner of containers, nestled in beds of moss and angel vine, or carefully arranged to look as though they were casually placed.

White Pumpkin Arrangement

 

 

 

Usually these designs come together easily, but sometimes it takes more than a few tries to get it just right. We are all perfectionists!Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

Please stop in and celebrate the season with us. Even if you just come to look, we usually have something fun to see that we’re either working on or have completed in our design area right up front. Know someone that needs a pick me up? Bring them along!

By Kris Blevons

A Flag For The Fourth

Last year’s massive “Botanical Fireworks”  Fourth of July project was pretty hard to top. This year we went a little smaller, and had some fun creating this tabletop botanical  “flag”. So far it’s made its way onto Facebook and Instagram, and after this post publishes I’ll put it on Pinterest too. How did we manage years ago without all this social media? They were simpler times, that’s for sure.

Botanical Flag CloseupIngredients for our flag project included blooms cut from the bleeding heart vine  (Clerodendron) growing around our entrance,  kalanchoe, vinca, dipladenia,  euphorbia, and geranium petals, cotton bolls and blueberries (We couldn’t resist eating some!)

Happy Fourth of July!!

By Kris Blevons

Unplanned Blessings Begin the Holiday Season…

Full Moon

Photo – Jamie Cross

There was a beautiful full moon over Crestline Village last week. Perhaps it had something to do with a perfect storm of events that caused shipment delays of some of our wreaths and greenery, including the ever popular boxwood wreaths.

Jamie called me the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. I knew something was going on since it wasn’t the usual  text. “Hey, what’s up?” I asked. She paused, then gave me the bad news. “The boxwood wreath supplier says they never got your orders.”  I sank into the nearest chair. “Whaaat??!?? That can’t be!!”  I’d left work earlier that day confident Derek would be making the trip to the airport to pick up the first of two orders I’d placed in July,  one scheduled to arrive that day and the second a week after.

Bunches of Magnolia...

Bunches of Magnolia…

At that moment the pressure of the holiday retail season suddenly hit me, and  I was as close to coming apart as I’ve ever been in my 24 years in this crazy business. Though we had plenty of other wreaths, including fir and beautiful wreaths made out of southern greenery, garland, and bunches of magnolia for people to get their decorating started, I felt the weight of not having an item that customers might want that weekend and could possibly find elsewhere.

Southern Greenery Wreath...

Southern Greenery Wreath…

“We can ship your first order Monday, and the second a day or so after,” I was told. Well that was far better than I thought I’d be hearing, but the relief was tempered, knowing that I was responsible for a mixup that shouldn’t have happened, and an entire weekend would go by before the shipment would arrive.

Just breathe, I told myself. It will be alright. Monday is only the 30th of November after all! But I know the rush to decorate and the overall craziness this time of year meant some people would not be happy, and that’s what I dreaded  more than anything. Just last week I was telling everyone to try to relax and enjoy the season, and yet here I was, near tears and so upset I was practically hyperventilating. It was time to take my own advice.

Southern Greenery - Wreaths...

Southern Greenery – Wreaths…

Prior to this news, I’d been trying to find out the location of another greenery shipment  that had shipped but still hadn’t arrived. I’d found out earlier in the day that, because of weather and trucking company issues, it had been delayed by weather in Colorado, and wouldn’t come in until Monday, again, after the weekend.

The funny thing? Just a week or so earlier a customer had told me she really wished I could talk to my suppliers so the wreaths and greenery wouldn’t come in so early. I’m tempted to call her and let her know the boxwood wreaths she’d like me to pull will probably come in the very day she wants them.

Fraser Fir Wreaths in All Sizes...

Fraser Fir Wreaths in All Sizes…

So begins another December.  It will surely end on a better note than it has begun, and I know our customers will understand we’re doing the best we can, and that some days are definitely better than others.

The good news is that since the weather has been so warm it’s probably just as well we didn’t have the boxwood wreaths and greenery so early. Unplanned blessings, indeed!

And thankfully, the  boxwood wreaths are here now, along with lots of greenery bunches, mantle pieces and berry stems, and at just the right time. In fact, there are so many boxes we’re still working on unpacking it all!

Here’s hoping all of you enjoy this holiday season no matter what curveballs get thrown your way. In the end, we all need to remember the most important things in our lives are family and good friends, happiness and health, peace, and good will to all…

By Kris Blevons

Molly’s Wedding – One Of Our “Family” Gets Married At Oak Street Garden Shop!

Tithonia - Molly's Wedding

Tithonia and Larkspur…

Molly's Wedding FlowersSaturday, October 10th, 2015, was a magical, musical night. On this cool fall evening, Molly, a member of our Oak Street Garden Shop family for ten years, was married under white twinkling lights, surrounded by a circle of family and friends.

Flowers in Driftwood...

Flowers in Driftwood…

Earlier in the year she’d become engaged to V, aka Chuck. Not long after this, she came to me saying she’d really love to get married at the shop and did I think the owner would be okay with it.

'African Blue' Basil Blooms...

‘African Blue’ Basil Blooms…

 

 

Oh, that would be wonderful, I thought, and, certainly, Billy would say yes. I asked if they had a date in mind. October 10th, she answered. Oh, a fall wedding…how lovely it would be!

Molly's Wedding FlowersOf course, Billy did say yes, after cautioning the shop would be fully stocked since that would be in the middle of the fall pansy season. Well, that would make it even prettier, we thought!Molly's Wedding Flowers

Molly and her mom, Dená, another 10 year employee, made it perfectly clear they didn’t want to cause any trouble or difficulty, and we knew they meant what they said. From my perspective this wedding was a joy from beginning to end.

The cake would be set up here...

The cake would be set up here…

There wasn’t that much for us to do, really.  Molly, her mom, and family took care of the planning, and each guest was asked to bring a dish. It would be a relaxed night, full of music, laughter, and dancing just as Molly wanted.

The bouquet...

The bouquet…

Specifically, Celtic music and Irish dancing.  Molly had  taught Irish dance for a number of years, and many of her dancing friends and students would be at her wedding. So the bands Jasper Coal, Vulcan Eejits, and singer Beth Wetheral provided beautiful, lyrical, and at times, boisterous music amid the many guests.

We worked steadily through the day...

We worked steadily through the day…

Of course, my interest prior to the ceremony was the shop and the flowers and creating a beautiful setting for Molly and V’s nuptials.

Molly's Wedding Flowers Jamie ordered sunflowers, larkspur and other flowers from the wholesale house and brought perennial sunflowers and zinnias from her garden. The Better Late Than Never Garden offered up bright orange tithonia and colorful zinnias, and we cut purple gomphrena and ‘African Blue’ basil blooms from the sign planter in front of the shop.

Setting the flowers out...

Setting the flowers out…

Molly contributed blooming miscanthus, Pinkie cut dahlias and a long section of climbing fern from her home, and I brought leucothoe, sea oats, and golden chamaecyparis out of my yard to use in colorful bouquets we placed in driftwood pieces. These we arranged on the red market tables. They’d be on either side of Molly as she walked down the “aisle”.Molly's Wedding

Jamie designed  two beautiful flowered clips for her hair and a loose bouquet of sunflowers, zinnias, gomphrena, and greenery for her to carry down the aisle.

Molly's Wedding

Cupcakes on handmade wood stands – a wedding gift…

Jamie, Molly, and myself worked steadily most of the day on the flowers, and the rest of the staff of Angie, Pinkie, Danielle, Bert, and Ben really stepped up their game too, taking care of most of the customers since the shop was open until 5:30 on a busy day and the wedding would be at 7:00.   It was truly a group effort.

Finally the time came, guests began to arrive, and we scrambled to get changed from work clothes to something more fitting for a wedding. In the tiny office, with the door screened by a blanket and Danielle helping with her hair and makeup, Molly was transformed from a garden shop worker bee into a beautiful bride.Molly's Wedding

Molly's Wedding Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her wedding dress, in rich brown chiffon, had been hand-sewn by her mother, Dená. And what a beautiful dress! On it she’d painted an entire colorful flower garden along front, complete with several butterflies and bees.

A Painted Garden...

A Painted Garden…

Her inspiration had been the ‘Better Late Than Never’ pollinator garden across the street from the shop, and the exquisite painting incorporated all the flowers in it – sunflowers, tithonia, zinnias, gomphrena, and more. It was truly a work of art, and Molly looked beautiful in it!Molly's Wedding

Molly's WeddingFinally it was time! Everyone gathered around the groom and family members standing under the arch marking the entrance to the nursery.

Then Molly came into view from the greenhouse, entering the circle of friends and relatives standing under hundreds of tiny white lights. There, in a beautiful ceremony incorporating the Irish tying of the knot,  Molly and V took their vows.

Molly's WeddingAfter, as the music played on and laughter filled the air, everyone danced and sang the night away. A beautiful cool evening in October had indeed turned out to be the perfect night for a wedding.

By Kris Blevons

Old Windows…Repurposed Into Wall Art

The old window had been kicking around for a few years, and we’d done a beautiful succulent planting in it. Bert had even built a planting box onto it so the plants would have more room to grow. It hung in the greenhouse for a few seasons and gave folks lots of ideas for their own vertical plantings.Old Window Repurposed into Wall Art Close-Up

During a greenhouse spring makeover the window planting was taken down.  It was propped against a wall by the clay pots where  it sat all spring. Finally this summer it was emptied out since the planting looked a bit worse for wear by this point.

Old Window RepurposedSome plants had done better than others. Those were repotted, the frame was completely emptied of soil,  and the bare frame and planting box stored behind the greenhouse.  I eyed it one hot summer day, and, having just seen some beautiful wall art …Was it on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest? I can’t remember now. But the bug had bit me, and I decided to create a wall piece using dried plant material, twigs, fabric, anything textural I could find. I had a summer project!

The first pictures show this first window turned out. It took quite a bit of time, and materials including fabric, dried sunflower seed heads, cotton bolls, birch bark, and much more. Everything is hot glued to a base of fabric and burlap. It was quite the project!Old Half Round Window Repurposed into Wall Art

A few months later my friend from Studio By The Tracks, Ila Faye Miller, mentioned she had some old windows they didn’t want any more. Fresh off my last project, I said we’d love to have them. One in particular caught my eye, a half-round window, called a lunette. I’d had so much fun creating the last window art piece I’d decided I wanted to make another.

Back at the shop, each triangular pane of glass was removed, and a fresh coat of paint was applied to freshen the old window up. Pieces of burlap were stapled to the back, creating a base that the okra pods, cork bark and other textural pieces would be glued to. Many hours later it was finished. The old window had a new purpose.

By Kris Blevons

More Holiday Inspiration – Arrangements, Flowers and Greens – Part 2

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl...

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl, filled with rieger begonias, amaryllis and ferns…

Simply hydrangeas...

Simply hydrangeas…

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Close-Up- Lady Slipper Orchi, Air Plants

Lady slipper orchid…

The greenhouse is literally overflowing with so many flowers we’ve had to move most of them onto the tables outside.

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement

Traditional red poinsettias…

Holiday Arrangement -  Shooting Star Hydrangea,Amaryllis, Curly Willow

With curly willow, cinnamon sticks and cut greens…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these holiday flowers – hydrangeas, amaryllis, paperwhites, azaleas, stephanotis, flowering jasmine, and cyclamen – prefer the cool temperatures.  It works out well, unless temperatures drop below freezing; then the nursery carts are loaded up and they’re moved back into the warmth of the greenhouse.

Phalaenopsis orchid in mercury glass with cut greens and berries...

Jamie added cut greens and berries to this phalaenopsis orchid in a Mercury glass container…

Orchids and air plants...

Orchids and air plants…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Amaryllis, Shooting Star Hydrangea, Fantail Willow

Amaryllis, hydrangea, jasmine…

 

Holiday Orchid Arrangement with Phalaenopsis Orchids and Jasmine

A gift of orchids and jasmine…

There it’s a riot of color, with orchids seemingly in every nook and cranny, trays of ferns and other foliage plants in abundance, and of course, poinsettias too.  It’s a crazy, slightly chaotic time of the year!

 

 

 

 

The two weeks prior to Christmas find us focused on projects big and small in the design area, and there’s not much time for anything else.

A tiny pot with cut greens...

A tiny pot with cut greens…

 

 

 

We’ll put plants in just about anything, including porcelain and glazed bowls, mercury glass containers, pots of every size and shape, jardinieres, wooden boxes, dough bowls, silver pieces and everything else imaginable. You can too!

 

 

 

First, the Christmas Trees Arrive…

Sugar Pine Cones

Sugar Pinecones…

SignI know the holiday season is here when the greenery bunches, garlands and wreaths we’ve ordered begin to appear – not to mention fragrant Fraser fir Christmas trees. I was looking forward to two of the boxes in particular  this year – the ones the huge sugar pine cones were packed in, just 30 to a box because they’re so big.

Sugar PineCone

Ribbon and Greenery added to a Sugar Pinecone…

Take a look in any craft magazine or on Pinterest and you’ll find plenty of decorating being done with these Northwest beauties!  There hasn’t been much time for us to play with these big pinecones, but I was able to add a bit of ribbon and some greenery to a couple before it got too busy.  A beautiful collection of these impressive cones in a large basket,  with a bit of reindeer moss tucked between and curls of ribbon for more color, would be festive too.

There’s a definite progression of the holiday season that I’ve noticed over the many years in this business, and, for no other reason than I’ve observed this phenomenon, here it is:

Alabama Cryptomeria Wreaths…

First the Christmas trees, outdoor garlands, and wreaths arrive, bringing the scent of the Carolina mountains to Birmingham. The trees are the stars of the show for a couple of weeks,  and the buzz of tree drills and saws fill the air.Holiday Greenery - Dyrons

Families arrive to find their perfect tree among the 700 that are  drilled for our tree stands and given a fresh cut before they’re moved out for sale. Bows for wreaths and other outdoor decorations are debated and chosen, and mailbox decorations are ordered.

Slowly but surely the outdoor decisions are made, trees are delivered, and festive decorations for inside and outdoors are complete.  Now the emphasis shifts to the  greenhouse, a magical place during Christmas, full of pretty flowering plants and more, and we begin the party season. Containers fill the back design area, waiting to be transformed into beautiful arrangements ready on just the right date. Finally, closest to Christmas, teacher’s gifts and gifts for family are arranged, to be picked up just before the end of school or prior to leaving town.

Orchids, Ferns, Ivy, Hydrangeas in Pretty Pots

Finished Arrangements…

The Grinch in the Tree

Our Grinch…

In fact, this year we had to make more room for finished pieces in front of the design area. Our new area has worked out well, since now it’s easier for everyone to see many of the finished centerpieces, pots, and special orders, and it gives people ideas for their own gifts or containers.

There’s another new addition this year too. Tacca, our garden shop cat, is experiencing her first holiday season and is she enjoying it! She’s taken to sitting in our Christmas display, right in the line of sight of all the children, who come in to pet her while they look at Santa and his elves. This year Molly created our wonderful grinch too.

Hydrangeas & Amaryllis...Gifts

More Arrangements…

While Fraser fir scents fill  the outside nursery, the greenhouse is truly a feast for the senses too,  filled with colorful flowers and lights.

 

 

 

Here you’ll  find orchids, amaryllis, jasmine, stephonotis, hydrangeas, rieger begonias and more, including the usual poinsettias.  There’s really nothing like a true greenhouse, devoted almost entirely to plants of the season.  Box stores with their fluorescent lights and a few holiday plants simply can’t compare. I hope you’ll come visit and see why.

 

 

 

 

The End Of The Season…Fall Arrangements

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods...

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods…

A copper planter for a table. Jamie's colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white...

A copper planter for a table. Jamie’s colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white…

Autumn  passes far too quickly. As usual, when a season is nearing the end, I find myself wishing I’d made the time to take more pictures of the many arrangements that we’ve created the past few weeks. Jamie, Molly, and I looked through those we had and here are a few of them – a simple goodbye to the autumn season for another year as we set our sights ahead to the holidays.

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more...

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more…

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in a dough bowl...

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in this dough bowl…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and autumn Fern adding more rich color...

My simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and Autumn Fern adding more rich color…

A dough bowl Jamie designed...

A dough bowl Jamie designed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is a favorite time, as the materials we work with are so interesting and organic. There’s none of the shiny, glittery, in-your-face glitz that will be here, oh, so soon enough, with the approach of Christmas. No, this time of year is quieter, as we embrace the down-to-earth beauty of mushrooms, soft green moss, natural branches, dark wiry angelvine, pods of all kinds, and interesting gourds. I enjoy the combinations that result, melded at times with the muted tones of burlap and raffia.

Molly's spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids...

Molly’s spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids…

I really enjoyed creating this "woodsy" piece...

I really enjoyed creating this “woodsy” piece…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall flowers in pretty pots for a fall luncheon...

For a fall luncheon..

Oncidium Orchid 'Twinkle' Arrangement With Okra Pods and Pinecones

Oncidium ‘Twinkle’ in a sweet combination of Jamie’s. Okra pods and pinecones add even more texture…

My simple lady slipper orchid arrangement, watched over by pretty Tacca, our garden shop kitty…

 

 

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin, and daughter, Molly, planted it...

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin and daughter, Molly, planted it…

We see such interesting pieces in the fall too. Earthy dough bowls, dark metal planters and copper containers, low wooden trays just perfect for mossy vignettes, a majolica bowl the right size and shape for a woodsy arrangement. Soon enough we’ll be making quite different sorts of combinations through the holidays, with quite different materials. For now though, I’m content to enjoy these last few days of fall.

A colorful fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins...

A final fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins…