This year’s floral “Fireworks”, created from flowers, leaves, and grasses from Kris’ garden.
Celebrating the beauty of nature and our nation’s independence 🇺🇸🎆
March began so uncertain
Though soon we knew we’d stay open
Essential we were deemed, and
staying open was stressful…
But first one, then so many more of you
came to support us
First, at the street, all distancing by 6 feet
You followed our guidelines
You made us feel safe,
donning your mask
before you walked through our door
Thank you for caring and
helping us through
We wouldn’t have made it
without loyal patrons like you!
Christmas is here
(The New Year soon too!)
Now we wish blessings on all –
and only good health for you!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎄
From all of us at
Oak Street Garden Shop
Every year it happens. Fall arrives, and we welcome it with open arms as a happy counterpoint to months of sizzling temperatures.
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.
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.
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.
Working with plants as we do, the seasons seem magnified.
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.
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.
So, as I write this the beginning of November, with Thanksgiving still weeks away, I’m already feeling melancholy for fall.
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.
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.
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.
This year the trees (As usual!) were beautiful and full, and they disappeared quickly. Because Thanksgiving was early this year, many wanted to select their tree and begin decorating. We were ready and had the goods!
The trees, wreaths, garlands, and other outdoor decorating staples are the first things people want as they begin to ready their homes for the holidays.
We’ll be taking some time off after the Christmas holiday and hope you’re able to do the same. If you’re signed up for our weekly emails on this website, they’ll be monthly January – March and will resume each week beginning April, 2019. Holiday Hours: Dec. 23-27 Closed; Dec. 28-29 Open; Dec. 30 Closed; Dec 31 Open; Jan 1, 2019 Closed
By Kris Blevons
Sure, you’ll see all sorts of blooming plants in every other store on the block (They are everywhere!), but we like to think that, since plants are what we do, 365 days out of the year, we offer the best. And isn’t that what you want for your love today and every day?
The weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day really are beautiful in the greenhouse.
To place an order for a custom design give us a call at 205-870-7542.
Every so often the wonderful opportunity we’ve been granted to be a brief part of our customers’ lives and help create memories for their little ones becomes clear. This moment of clarity usually happens on hectic holiday afternoons when the light is waning and the greenhouse is at its most beautiful.
On those crazy, busy days we catch glimpses between our work tasks of young families with little ones gazing at the animated Santa Claus display we put up each year. Smiling, we watch the children pet the garden shop cats sleeping there (It was their favorite spot this year!) as parents or grandparents take pictures.
Perhaps its because I’m getting older and my childhood memories seem more distant that appreciating this opportunity occurs to me more often. This year a family with a tiny boy in tow told me he remembered our Santa from the year before. Creating memories begins very, very young…
Memories are made in other ways too, with special decorations brought out and lovingly placed, delicate heirlooms carefully unwrapped for another season, and the “best tree ever” standing proud and tall, its lights and sparkly ornaments twinkling in darkened rooms.
A few weeks ago a favorite project reappeared, a family holiday tradition that we’ve been fortunate to have become a part of. Every year this particular family bought a new tiny elf for the children and, as their children grew older and had families of their own, for grandchildren. These elves would be brought out each season, and it wasn’t Christmas without them.
One year the owner of the elf tradition spotted a garden tray filled with tiny poinsettias, cut greens and mosses, a beautiful miniature garden that she decided would be the perfect setting for her collection of family elves. She loved it so much she brought it back the following Christmas to be “reworked” for a new season.
I look forward to seeing her each year now and enjoy creating a new garden for her elves. She told me this year her grandchildren asked her where it was.
It’s coming, she told them. The pictures here give you some idea of what they are enjoying this year – a river, a pond with a tire swing, and lots of places for her elves to perch.
As I finished putting the last bits of moss in and repositioned the tiny hummingbird feeder, my mind wandered as I imagined being the young girl seeing this little garden for the first time on Christmas morning.
By Kris Blevons
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.
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!
The 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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
There 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.
I asked them what brought them to Birmingham. The woman pulled her sweater aside and I caught a glimpse of a medical drainage bag.
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.
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.”
It’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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
We 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. But happily, it’s here too!
For anyone who may not know, we create arrangements like this on a daily basis for folks bringing in their containers or using ours.
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.
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!
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.
Here’s a sampling of what the greenhouse has looked like.
Next time you’re driving by, take a moment out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers!
The greenhouse is literally overflowing with so many flowers we’ve had to move most of them onto the tables outside.
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.
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.
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!
The last few weeks have flown by in a colorful blur of customers, Christmas trees, and deliveries of beautiful plants and flowers.
Now Christmas is almost here, though soon enough a new year will be upon us, filled with possibility and fresh beginnings.
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.
I 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Succulent wreaths might not be what one thinks of first as a component of holiday decorating, but these pretty echeveria wreaths just might change your mind. The best thing about these wreaths is that there is room for the little echeverias to grow, and this also makes them easier to take care of through the winter months.
The wreaths are just about 10″ in diameter and can just as easily be laid flat on a table and made part of a holiday tablescape as hung. Though they’re beautiful just as they are, adding other elements is easy to do. The one shown here was “dressed up” with small loops of a pretty, sheer ribbon, tiny pine cones, and small tufts of real cotton.
The echeverias in these wreaths have been planted in a sphagnum moss wreath form and will continue to grow with the proper care. Give them as much direct light as possible, and, when the wreaths feel very light when lifted, it’s time to water. Place them in a shallow pan filled with a few inches of water and leave them in it for at least 30 minutes or until the form feels heavy, indicating it’s saturated. Do not water again until it feels very light once more. Remember, succulents prefer to be on the dry side.
These sweet wreaths are in limited supply, so, if you’re interested in trying one, now is the time to stop in and take a look. On their own or “dressed up”, what a lovely, unexpected, and long lasting addition to your holiday decor!
I have to confess, where I grew up, mailboxes were at the houses, either as a mail slot in the door or physically attached to the outside of the home, and only folks in the country had mailboxes on a post at the street. Now this was actually a very good thing since it saved having to walk outside each day to get the mail, especially on extra cold or very snowy days. Of course, there was always a wreath, and garland with bows, and evergreen bunches in frozen pots.
But, since moving to Birmingham, I’ve grown to enjoy having a more southern twist to decorating, using a swag on the front door with all sorts of beautiful greens and berries, putting up garland with bows on the porch rail, and, yes, decorating the mailbox. In fact, that’s one of the things I enjoy most.
If you’d like to try your hand with your own mailbox decoration or door swag, using oasis in a cage will make the project easy, and, of course, the oasis will keep the cut material you use as fresh as it can be. Scout out your yard. Are there shrubs with berries that you can use? If you buy a real Christmas tree, save any branches that are trimmed off the bottom – they are wonderful as the starting point of a pretty decoration. I like to use magnolia, boxwood, juniper, chamaecyparis , pine, cedar, and a shrub often used in the shade, leucothoe, which is particularly long lasting when cut.
If your options are limited in your own yard, we also have bunches of greenery available through the season for you to decorate with. From berries to greens and pinecones too, there will be enough here for you to play with! I warn you though, once you start putting your decoration together, it will be hard to stop!
Begin by soaking your oasis piece(s) for at least an hour so the foam absorbs all the water. It will feel heavy. If you’re working on your mailbox, take a look at it. Would you like to see your decoration attached to the post? Or perhaps you’d like to put it on top. For either of these two options, simply take florist wire through the oasis cage and around the mailbox or post. If you have a mailbox with the nameplate across the top, it’s quite easy to wire two oasis forms together, creating a “saddle” to hang on the mailbox.
Now you’re ready to begin inserting your greenery and having some fun! Whether I’m doing a door swag or a mailbox decoration, I like to have all my different greens, berries and pinecones laid out so I can see all my options. If there was one thing I could tell you at this point, it’s to not be afraid. If you cut a stem and it’s too long, don’t sweat it, just recut it shorter. By the same token, if you feel the stem you’ve cut is too short, set it aside; it will probably work just right in a different spot. Remember, this should be a fun project, not a test! Try to cut stems that aren’t too “fat” since those larger than an inch in diameter tend to take up a lot of room in the oasis and can tear it up, especially if you aren’t happy with your placement and pull it out to reposition it too many times. Smaller stems are better.
This isn’t going to be a do it by pictures post. I think that limits your creativity. So, I’m not going to tell you what exactly goes with what. If you like it, that’s what counts! You might choose to do your entire mailbox with magnolia because you have a big magnolia in your yard, or you may just want a small boxwood piece with ribbon. To emphasize, again – there is no wrong way to do this. Simply gather the greenery you like, and go from there. I think some of you who are unsure will be happily surprised at your creations. Have fun!
If do-it-yourself isn’t for you, we make mailbox decorations and more throughout the season. Give us a call or stop in to place an order!
Amaryllis, unquestionably, are one of the most dramatic and elegant of flowers. That bold, beautiful blooms of all colors and sizes can emerge from such a drab, unassuming brown bulb is amazing. They are truly a wonder of nature!
Our final shipment of amaryllis bulbs arrived the other day and now is the perfect time to pot them up for the holidays. It’s so easy to do too. My friend, Nancy Wallace of Wallace Gardens in Atlanta, swears by soaking the bulb in Haven Brand Manure Tea, an odorless tea that we have in stock now, for an even better display.
In a shallow saucer filled with about an inch of this concentrated tea, soak the roots of the bulbs for no more than 20 minutes, then plant. From her picture I featured in the above link, she’s on the right track. I’ll be soaking mine this year!
So, you want to purchase an amaryllis bulb (or more than one) for yourself or as gifts for friends? First, you need to know that the size of the bulb corresponds to the size and amount of blooms. Their sizes range from “miniature” amaryllis bulbs to jumbo amaryllis and there are midsize bulbs as well.
Beware of gift boxes and bags already prepackaged. I’ve stopped carrying them because, inevitably, the bulb begins to grow in the box prior to purchase. Believe me, there’s nothing sadder than an amaryllis, stem bent toward the light, growing sideways out of a box. It’s just not right!
Potting them up is quite simple. First, soak your amaryllis bulb as described above so the roots rehydrate. Next, find a pot that is no more than an inch or so wider than the bulb and fill it with good quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) about half way up the pot. Next, position the bulb on the soil, pushing the roots firmly in place. The “shoulder”, or widest portion of the bulb, should be above the soil. Fill in around the bulb, push down gently, and water with some of the remaining manure tea.
The hardest part is the wait for the bud to begin to emerge. It may take just a few days in a warm, sunny room, but it can just as easily take longer. Amaryllis don’t always cooperate with our timetables. Take a look at this “Holiday Flowers” post from last year and you’ll see what I mean. When you do see new growth starting to emerge, begin to water just so the soil stays slightly moist and watch the magic happen! You can also “dress up” the top of the soil with decorative moss or pebbles.
In bloom amaryllis can get quite tall and will usually benefit from some type of staking. In addition to simple bamboo stakes, stems of red and yellow twig dogwood, birch, curly willow, or branches from your landscape can be used. Insert the staking material at the edge of the bulb and tie it with raffia or ribbon.
The pictures here show what we’ve done in the past using amaryllis. They make wonderful presents during the holiday season and simply watching the bloom stalk grow taller and the enormous buds begin to open is a gift in itself!
In addition to bulbs that are available for you to plant, we also will be receiving many amaryllis already potted up from our growers. So, if you’re in the Birmingham area, there’s no excuse not to have one of these holiday favorites!
October is a favorite month of ours for many reasons. The garden is changing over from summer flowers to the pretty pansies and more that will shine next spring, and all of the beautiful gourds and pumpkins make their appearance. In the greenhouse, we know it’s October because we begin to get boxes upon boxes of fall and holiday inventory that Jamie found at market. She, Molly, Pinkie and Angie have been busy unpacking, pricing, moving, and displaying all the pretty new items – perfect to put holiday flowers in for arrangements and holiday center pieces. Let’s take a look…
There isn’t much time in the spring for writing and work on the computer in the nursery business, and the pictures in this post and the ones to follow will give you a glimpse why and are a fraction of what we’ve been working on recently.
This year especially, with Easter falling late and the Mother’s Day holiday arriving a little over two weeks later, the demand for help planting spring planters and beds and then gifts to give for Mother’s Day really kept us hopping!
The past two months have flown by, and Mother’s Day is now past. Now the final push to finish spring planting is on, and the long, slow slide to summer begins.
Here, then, is a sampling of arrangements that we’ve created in the rush of early spring. Some are orchid arrangements in customers’ containers (and some in ours); others are arrangements in corkwood. Still more are short term plantings for parties, using bedding plants and herbs that can be planted in containers and in the garden outside after the festivities. Enjoy.