Category Archives: Holiday

Holiday Happiness

PoppiesThe holidays snuck up on us this year. Summer drifted into fall, with record-breaking warm temperatures and drought conditions throwing all gardening activities out of kilter.

We breathed again when the calendar finally turned to November. Surely this month, after an October of lackluster activity as landscapes wilted, would bring us the rain we desperately needed.IMG_1100

The days passed, and customers began coming in to get our help with their Thanksgiving festivities and holiday tables.

At the same time, we were methodically clearing the nursery of every plant, table, container, and accessory to make every bit of space for the 750 Fraser fir Christmas trees arriving the day before Thanksgiving.IMG_1142

 

 

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Our bow-making class had more participants than the year before, and we knew the holidays were coming even if it didn’t quite feel like it.

 

The traditional Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves display was changed up too – this year they’re relaxing at the beach. Why wouldn’t they be with the warm weather?  We joked that when the Christmas trees came so would the rains, and hopefully cooler temperatures too, and darned if that isn’t exactly what happened!IMG_1115

 

IMG_1385The long soaking rains might have slowed down Christmas tree sales, but really we can’t complain. We’re busy enough again, with plants and planters, and that is a great thing. Here’s hoping you all enjoy the holidays, but mostly enjoy the rainy days, any day.

By Kris Blevons

 

New Year’s Day…A Look Back And Wishes For The New Year

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a quiet, rainy morning as I write this,  too chilly to make my usual morning walk around the garden. The time the shop is closed between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a welcome respite from the previous month’s hectic pace. It’s such a relief to be still and have no demands, if only briefly.

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

Miniature Garden...design Molly Hand

Miniature Garden…design Molly Hand

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

I’m looking forward to the new year, and soon I’ll be writing of primroses and spring flowers…the ones that our growers magically produce for greenhouses much earlier than in nature – blooming daffodils, tulips, crocus and more.

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

design Molly Hand

design Molly Hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sleigh...design Kris Blevons

sleigh…design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

design Kris Blevons

Today, though, I’m thinking of the holidays just past, when winter white azaleas, calla lilies, hydrangeas,  paperwhites, larger than life blooms of amaryllis in every color, jewel-toned cyclamen, traditional poinsettias, and all the most wonderful orchids on dazzling display turned the greenhouse into a wonderland.

design Jamie Cross

design Jamie Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these pictures bring a smile at the start of this new year. The artful combination of plants, branches, textural mosses  (and other happy discoveries),  are our resolution for the coming year. Here’s to beauty and creativity in 2016!

A holiday terrarium...design Kris Blevons

A holiday terrarium…design Kris Blevons

While these designs are mostly mine,  Jamie’s, and Molly’s,  I’d be remiss not to mention that many more were created by Pinkie, Danielle, and Angie – worthy of a future post!

By Kris Blevons

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Taking Time When It’s Needed Most…

Greenhouse - OrchidsThere are those rare instances when you feel like you’ve actually made an impact, however small, in someone’s life, and recently, near the end of a long, crazy, tiring day something happened that made me feel really good.

I asked a couple I saw looking at some plants in the shop if they needed help. They said no, that they were from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and just walking through, adding everything was so beautiful and there was simply nothing like it where they were from.Greenhouse - December 2015

I asked them what brought them to Birmingham. The woman pulled her sweater aside and I caught a glimpse of a medical drainage bag.

Greenhouse - December 2015

 

 

 

I’ve had a double mastectomy at UAB, she said, and we’ve been staying at an apartment here. We’re really hoping to be home for Christmas. I said I was glad they’d found our little shop and that I hoped they enjoyed looking around.

We chatted for a moment, then they asked where the cats were (They’d read the piece on the front door that Pinkie had written about Tacca and Liam.), saying they really missed their cats and dog and couldn’t wait to get back home to them.Liam and Tacca - December 2015

I showed them where the cats were sleeping in the Santa Claus display in the cushy “snow”, and they laughed at that as they were petting them. Her husband pulled out his phone to snap a shot of his wife with the cats, so  I asked if they’d like both their pictures taken with them. “Oh, that would be wonderful,” she said, “Thank you for taking the time.”

Greenhouse - December 2015It’s funny. The day up to that point had been absolute, continuous bedlam, and we’d all been running in circles with hardly a breather in between. But it felt as though time slowed down as I walked around and talked with them. As they turned to go, they both grabbed my hands saying thank you, and bless you. I wished them the best and said, if they ever needed just to walk through, to come any time, that plants heal too.Greenhouse - December 2015

A chance encounter with two lovely people looking for healing may well be my best gift of the season; I can’t imagine any others that could even come close.

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

Thoughts Of Fall On A November Weekend

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day...

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day…

Every year it happens. Fall arrives, and we welcome it with open arms as a happy counterpoint to months of sizzling temperatures.

 

Fall - Violas, Peppers and Minipumpkins

It comes just in time too, since by this point  we’ve tired of watching spring plantings gradually and inexorably succumb to summer’s never ending heat and humidity.

Branches of bittersweet and mini pumpkins accent an oncidium orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the new season come truckloads of pumpkins, branches of bittersweet, traditional mums, and sweet pansies, showing all the hues  of the harvest, blanketing the front of  the shop with a riot of color.

Fall - PansiesFall - Pansies

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Orchid Arrangement

 

Even the orchids give way, the elegant white phalaenopsis stepping aside as oncidiums and dendrobiums in shades of yellows, golds, deep purples, and browns take center stage.

End of the season coleus mingle with ornamental peppers...

Fall - Arrangement

Working with plants as we do, the seasons seem to be magnified somehow.

 

 

Our livelihoods are driven by them, and we look forward to the next, even as we finally tire of the previous palette’s flowers, herbs, shrubs, vegetables.

 

 

Of all the seasons, fall seems to be the most fleeting, at least here in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fall - Pumpkins

Perhaps it’s the relentless march of the holidays, with Thanksgiving  accordioned between October and December, and hearing the strains of Christmas music all too soon.

 

Harvest centerpiece...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

Cotton bolls in arranged with pods and stems, in a pumpkin...

So, as I write this on a rainy Saturday in November, with Thanksgiving still weeks away, I’m already feeling melancholy for fall.

Fall - Gourd and Bittersweet

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Mailbox Decoration

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The harvest season simply doesn’t last long enough for me. Looking through the pictures to add to this post lifted my spirits,  and I hope they do yours too.

Pumpkin centerpieces...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and the opportunity to celebrate all we have to be thankful for, and I’m trying to remember to enjoy each season, even those that pass far too quickly.

Planted...violas, herbs and pods...design Molly Hand

 

 

Fall - Lettuce and Herb Arrangements...

Orchids and Gourds Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A final thought; Don’t allow yourself to get overly stressed during the coming holidays. Try to appreciate each day and the beauty it brings, and, above all, remember to slow down and breathe. A new season with fresh beginnings is right around the corner.

 

By Kris BlevonsFall - PumpkinsFall - Gourd Arrangement

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall...Yellowwood tree

 

Southern Living’s ‘Grumpy Gardener’ Noticed This Orchid Arrangement

Orchid ArrangementWe try to have as many orchids and other plants as possible to fill customer’s containers for parties and special events. The amount of design work we do is certainly a far cry from our start 25 years ago when we didn’t even offer orchids for sale!

This orchid arrangement, in a customer’s beautiful footed container,  was spotted by Steve Bender, Southern Living’s ‘Grumpy Gardener’. He then “stole” it and featured it on his blog with our permission  ( here’s his post ).  But happily, it’s here too!

another in a dough bowl...

another in a dough bowl…

 

For anyone who may not know, we create arrangements like this on a daily basis for folks bringing in their containers or using ours.

 

driftwood pieces with orchids and houseplants

driftwood pieces with orchids and houseplants

If you have something at home you’d like filled with living plants,  (It doesn’t have to be orchids, it could be other foliage and flowers.) simply bring your container in, or choose one of ours.  Give us some idea of where it will be placed,  and if you’ll be using it for a party or need something  long lasting.

 

Finally, give us some guidelines on color preferences if you have any, and then simply leave it for us to create something beautiful for you.

The orchid arrangement he featured had some beautiful, large air plants in it.  For more information on air plants, look HERE.

 

During the holiday season and spring  we ask at least a week’s notice (or more) so we can do the best job possible – this also allows us time to gather the plants needed for your arrangement.

Haven’t Been In Lately? Here’s What We’ve Been Up To…

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery...

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery…

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix...

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix…

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl...

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl…

February is full of bright colors...primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus...

February is full of bright colors…primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus…

A pretty arrangement for Valentine's Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though...this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea...

A pretty arrangement for Valentine’s Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though…this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea…

A customer's container became home to a bird's nest Fern and agave...

A customer’s container became home to a bird’s nest Fern and agave…

Outside the greenhouse can look a little drab this time of year, but, if  you’ve just passed us by, have you ever missed out!

Primroses in the greenhouse...

Primroses in the greenhouse…

 

 

The greenhouse has been packed full with blooming beauties and with Valentine’s Day just past, we’ve been putting together the prettiest arrangements for gifts and filling containers with all sorts of plants for centerpieces too.

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses...

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses…

Succulent pots at the front door…

 

At the entrance...

In bloom at the entrance to the greenhouse…

Echeverias blooming in a tiny pot…

Here’s a sampling of what the greenhouse has looked like.

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone...

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone…

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, ferns and ivy...

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, Fern and Ivy…

 

 

 

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents....

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents….

Next time you’re driving by, take a moment out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers!

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light...

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light…

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green...

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green…

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Wire Hearts for Valentine's Day...

Wire Hearts for Valentine’s Day…

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!

 

 

 

Holiday Inspiration – Arrangements, Flowers and Greens – Part 1

A trio of miniature orchids...

A trio of miniature orchids Jamie put together…

Stephanotis Wreath

Stephanotis Wreath

Amaryllis in a very large bowl...

Amaryllis in a very large bowl…

 

 

 

 

The last few weeks have flown by in a colorful blur of customers, Christmas trees, and deliveries of beautiful plants and flowers. Phalaenopsis Orchid Arrangement with Curly Willow

 

 

Holiday Arrangement

Miniature poinsettias, cut greens and a lemon cypress in a low tray Jamie designed…

Now Christmas is almost here, though soon enough a new year will be upon us, filled with possibility and fresh beginnings.

 

Lady Slipper Orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement with Paperwhites, Air Plants, Cut Greens and Curly Willow

Paperwhites, cut greens and curly willow…

To celebrate, here is the first post of a few of our arrangements of flowers and cut greens from the past few weeks, our gift to you this holiday season.

Holiday Greenery...

Pinkie’s cut greens and berries…

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.