Category Archives: Project

January In The Greenhouse…

air plants have found a home in these colorful frames...

air plants have found a home in these colorful frames…

January in the greenhouse is a quiet time. Sure, there are folks coming in for a houseplant for a pot, or to pick up a few pansies to fill in their winter weary containers, but for the most part there’s plenty of time to work on projects of all sorts.

Molly created this herb sign with aluminum wire and old pallets...

Molly created this herb sign with aluminum wire and old pallets…

This month, Jamie, Pinkie and Molly, with the help of Lauren, have been painting up a storm, and the stage area has taken on a new look. Molly is also working on signs for the outdoor nursery, while Bert and Ben are  building new tables. it’s fun to change things up, and this is the time of year to do it!

a spring garden using lichen covered branches and spring flowers...

a spring garden using lichen covered branches and spring flowers…

Of course, arrangements take priority always, for customers who come in needing something for themselves, for a party or to give as a gift – and we enjoy this creative outlet too. Jamie brought in a lot of lichen covered branches, and has been using them beautifully as part of table top arrangements. They look wonderful mixed in with the bright primroses of winter, and the forced bulbs including narcissus, muscari, and soon, tulips and crocus.

pussy willow branches...

pussy willow branches…







Winter branches of pussy willow have been a staple too, and we’ve been adding them to orchid and foliage arrangements. Soon the greenhouse will be filled with even more houseplants of all sorts, and we’ll begin creating combinations of plantings that can be transferred outside when the temperatures warm, later in the spring.

January in the greenhouse  is spent doing chores that must be done, but also on things that are just plain fun!







Fall Veggie and Flower Seeds…Try Some This Year!

Planting seeds is a fun project for the little ones!

Planting seeds is a fun project!

Our fall seed selection has arrived, and many folks have already been perusing the seed rack. From radishes to radicchio, lettuces to larkspur, the selection is varied, and the package description on our Botanical Interests seed packets are fun to read too.

Additionally, I’m so pleased this company only supplies us with GMO free seed, which means none of this seed is genetically modified.

If you’re planting seeds for the first time, be sure to read the instructions on the packet. They’ll tell you how deeply to plant and how long it will take them to come up, as well as any other instructions you might need to produce a healthy plant.

Seed packets have lots of information on them...

Seed packets have lots of information on them…

Remember, in Birmingham, our first average frost date is usually the beginning of November. This will help you determine the latest you can plant certain seeds.

Prepare your garden bed by pulling any old vegetation out. If you have a compost pile, everything but weeds can be put into it to decompose. Next you’ll need to loosen the soil – a garden fork works well for this. Push the fork into the soil 7″-8″ and rock it back and forth to loosen it, being sure to break up any big clumps. Many gardeners try to keep turning up the soil to a minimum, since that can bring weed seeds to the surface, providing them the light needed to germinate. Next, add 2″-4″ of soil amendments (dehydrated cow manure, Plant Tone, soil conditioner and/or your own compost) over the top and lightly fork all of it in. Rake the top of your bed to even it out and you’re ready to plant!

Watering your seed bed is important. If you’re sowing very tiny seeds, you may want to water the soil before planting. Once the seeds are sown at the proper depth, keep the soil consistently moist with gentle showers from your hose. Don’t get it too soggy or your little seeings may rot.

Seedlings of many vegetables and flowers benefit from being thinned. This term simply means taking out the smallest, weakest seedlings so one strong plant is able to grow large enough for you to eventually harvest.

Look at that cabbage!

Look at that cabbage!

The easiest way to thin is simply to cut out the weakest with a pair of scissors, leaving the largest to continue growing. Talk about survival of the fittest! You could also tease the weakest seedlings out of the soil and replant in another area – the more the merrier!

Some fall vegetable seeds we have include many lettuces, chard, beets, broccoli, mustard, spinach, turnips and more. If you’d rather plant flowers, larkspur, delphinium, poppies and bachelor buttons are just some of the choices.

Doesn’t this sound like a fun and ultimately rewarding project? If you have children, find a spot in your yard for even a small garden, and start planting!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


An Old Iron Fountain….Repurposed!

Shiny and new...

Shiny and new…

The old iron fountain had seen better days; that’s for sure. Many, many years ago (over 20 now) it was the star of a brand new garden shop, and its place of prominence was at the very center of the entrance…the shiny black finish was reflected in the pool of water filling  the large, shallow basin.

Maybe some of you remember when you had to walk around it, in all its glory, to reach  the greenhouse. Though I have to say I wasn’t overly fond of the giant snails in this old photo!



Can you see the dog in the fountain?

Can you see the dog in the fountain?


The beautiful fountain was a fixture it seemed. Soon, the neighborhood dogs discovered the cool water in the large basin – it was a common sight to see a large lab or some other dog (Where did they come from anyway?) lolling in the water, tongue out, happy, happy.

Keeping the fountain filled was a chore, and we quickly  discovered a definite flaw in the design. The basin was too shallow to hold enough water – ever! So, to keep the fountain running consistently, we had to fill it continuously. Boy, the dogs really loved that. They kept coming…cool, running water any time they wanted it – such a treat!


planting begins....

planting begins….

After many years of fighting this, we decided to move the fountain into the greenhouse, but after one disastrous attempt to use it for a glorified goldfish pond (Note: Goldfish do not like iron or rust.), we finally gave up and it met it’s inglorious fate stored under a table…the enormous basin turned upside down and covered with plastic. The top tiered portion ended up outside, leaning precariously on its side, a sad sight for anyone who remembered it in its heyday.

photo (24)




I’d been wanting to move the top portion and plant it, but busy seasons came and went and there just didn’t seem to be the time or inclination (It is a very heavy piece of iron!). This summer, though, Jamie found the perfect spot in the greenhouse, and I planted it up. It has a new life once again as a fixture of Oak Street Garden Shop!

Because the three  basins are designed to hold water, the plants needed to be those that don’t mind moisture.  I also wanted to have enough plants cascading to create a “fountain” effect, as well as some to create  fullness but not get too large. We’ll see how it grows out.

photo (26)

Saxifraga stolonifera, strawberry begonia, was the first plant I chose. These are wonderful perennial groundcovers in moist, shady spots of the garden. Hopefully they will spread and cascade over the edge happily in their new home.

Next I added a dark leaved trailing coleus. Yes, there is a coleus that really spills! In addition, I tucked in a bit of pilea ‘Aquamarine’ – this plant seems to be able to grow in any conditions and I’m testing it here to see how it does. That’s one of the luxuries of working in the greenhouse – we can always substitute another plant if need be!

photo (23)One of the filler plants I used was a tiny grass, Acorus minimus – all the acorus love moisture so it should do well. I rounded out the filler plants with a few ferns and another bog plant called Syngonanthus chrysanthus  ‘Mikado’.  This is a definite test since we know next to nothing about this plant; however, the fountain basin should give it the boggy conditions it is supposed to prefer!

I’m glad the fountain has a new life and hope the planting grows out the way I envision it. The large basin is in yet another new spot outside, leaning against a sturdy wall. Hmmm… what next for it , I wonder? Only time will tell.



New Miniature Garden Accessories (And Some Tales Too)

Miniature garden items - long shotFor all of you miniature garden folks (You know who you are!), some new tiny accessories came in recently that might be of interest if you want to rework one you already have. Some of you may want to create more of them or you may have children and grandchildren that love these tiny worlds as much as we do! We even have a gentleman who comes in on a regular basis whose hobby is creating tiny train worlds. He’s always on the lookout for new pieces and plants to add to his extensive train villages.

Miniature garden, gray round bow, stone table and stools, green bench, bridge, heather tree



If you’re going to the Hand In Paw fundraiser this month, you’ll also see one of our miniature garden creations there – it will be in the silent auction. Here’s hoping it does its part to raise needed funds for that worthy organization!

Miniature garden w/ Triple trellis, broom & rake, iced tea set, catSome people have asked why we don’t carry fairies and other inhabitants for our miniature gardens. For us, the garden is the key – creating a miniature garden world with plants that actually will grow for you…along with some judicious clipping when needed.   (Fairies are there in spirit, not seen, and, if the garden has the magic of the creator’s touch, of course they’ll come.)

Miniature garden asst stuff, coke bottles in crate, tub w/ ice, iced tea setThese miniature gardens have really struck a chord for adults and kids alike, and it’s so much fun to see the delight by adults and excitement of little ones as they browse (and play with)  the tiny creations that can  be used in their own gardens. Of course, any activity that stimulates imagination is certainly worthwhile!  For children, it’s a make believe world; for adults it’s an outlet to grow plants in a different way.

A customer came in one day to ask for help reworking  her daughter’s miniature garden… according to the parent, her little girl absolutely loved this garden, which had been a present.  This one had a winding  pea gravel path and stone “courtyard”  (which she would smooth with her tiny rake each day), rock “boulders”, a bench, and other little accessories as well as  a few sedums for the garden plants.

Miniature garden with Celtic cross, green metal bench, stone table & chairsAll was well until the night the little girl had a sleepover party with a couple of her friends…you might well imagine where this story is going! Somehow the miniature garden, which she kept in her bedroom, was completely up-ended  in the middle of the bed, an utter mishmash of soil, plants,pea gravel, stones and little accessories. It must have been like Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall in the fairytale! We helped rework the little miniature garden, and hopefully that little girl is still happily raking her pea gravel “path”…

Miniature garden w/ var. euonymous std, stone bridge, b/bath w/ cardinalNot long ago a parent, her daughter, and the girl’s little brother came in. The mother marched to the counter with the little boy and said that he needed to buy, with his own money, a stone for his sister’s miniature garden. Puzzled, I asked what kind of stone he needed. Well, the mother said, her daughter had a stone with the words “My Garden” written on it in her miniature garden. Evidently the little boy had turned it around and scrawled  “bathroom” on the back! Of course, the boy’s sister wasn’t having any of that in her garden. So, we found the perfect stone, wrote “My Garden” on it for the little girl, and the little boy brought out his money to pay for it.  Before they left, the mother gave the little boy the stone that he’d written on. Much  later we found it hidden in the miniature garden displays and had a good laugh….he didn’t want it either!

Miniature garden assorted pieces in displaySome of the fun things we’ve gotten in recently include a pair of ghosts (It’s never too early to begin thinking about Halloween!), wooden soda bottle crates with soda bottles, a wine basket with wine bottles, a metal tub (just right to put the wine and soda bottles in!), tiny turtles, frogs and one very fat cat, some pretty urns, a very realistic Celtic cross, a stone walking bridge, a triple trellis  and more. And there will be additional miniature garden items coming in down the road too. It’s a good idea to pop in every now and then to see what’s new.

The miniature gardens shown in this post showcase a few new things, as well as some items we’ve had. Mostly though, I hope they illustrate how much fun making these gardens can be, and how each one is a little different…imagination is a wonderful thing!






Living Wreaths – Here’s How! (The original vertical garden…)

A living wreath planted for shade using houseplant ferns, creeping fig and ivy...

A living wreath planted for shade using houseplant ferns, creeping fig and ivy…


This post is for all you do-it-yourselfers and those that just like to know how interesting plantings are created. Living wreaths are one of those things, or, as I like to think of them, the original vertical garden arrangement. Maybe you’ve seen them on Pinterest or at your favorite garden shop (Of course, if you’re in Birmingham, we hope that’s us!).




Living wreaths are not difficult to make and are really quite fun – it just takes some time and a little thought choosing plants.  The first step is deciding  where you’d like to have your living wreath. Perhaps you have a gate leading into your garden? Or maybe there’s a blank spot on that shady patio wall? They also work well placed on a flat surface such as a table.


Empty Living Wreath Frames - 16"





The sturdy wreath form you see here is a standard plastic coated 16″ size. You can see there are two pieces, and the smaller back piece hooks easily onto the larger one.


Lining the form prior to planting...

Lining the form prior to planting…


Many how-tos for living wreaths use moistened sphagnum moss to line the form. We plant them a bit differently, lining the form with moistened green sheet moss, then filling the cavity with potting soil and slow release fertilizer before planting. We’ve been planting hayracks, moss baskets and wreaths like this for over 20 years in this manner.

insert plants at intervals through the moss, firming in.

insert plants at intervals through the moss, firming in.



Jamie designed the wreath in this demonstration for a customer who wanted an interesting mix of foliage  for use in a bright location. Her plant material includes pilea, tillandsias, tiny pink cryptanthus, and baby tears. It’s important to understand the cultural needs of the plants being used so any special watering needs can be met. In this composition, the baby tears will need special attention as they require the most water.

As with any open wired container that is being lined, don’t skimp on the moss. It’s  the glue that’s holding everything together after all. When the form is thickly lined, add the potting soil, moistening it and firming it in, then add a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote.  Remember to always use a good quality soilless mix when planting any type of container. After the cavity is filled, add more sheet moss to the “back” of the wreath and attach the smaller piece. Now your wreath form is ready to plant!

Adding the cryptanthus...

Adding the cryptanthus…

Water your plants well, then insert them into the wreath by pushing a hole into the moss with your fingers so the soilless mix is exposed. Of course, the smaller the plant  the easier this step will be. Once the plant is firmed into place add more sheet moss if needed to keep the soil  around the root ball of the plant.

Some plants can be purchased in larger pots and pulled apart, like the pilea and baby tears shown here. It may look a little messy at first, but they will recover in no time. Many  plants that work well in living wreaths can be separated in this manner, including ivy, creeping fig, fittonia, asparagus fern, creeping jenny, dwarf mondo, some small ferns and many succulents.



What makes these wreaths so interesting and fun to make is the use of different foliage colors, textures and shapes. But, in addition to foliage, wreaths like those shown here can also be planted with bedding plants – in the spring begonias work well and, in the fall, violas and pansys make lovely wreaths too.

Watering requirements will vary on living wreaths, depending on the plants used. For instance,  a wreath planted with succulents will need less attention than those shown here.

a living wreath for shade with fittonia, creeping fig and pilea

a living wreath for shade with fittonia, creeping fig and pilea


We’ve found the easiest watering method is to lay them flat and either pour water on them or let them sit in a saucer of water until the planting is heavy. The ivy, fern and creeping fig wreath  shown at the beginning of this post lived in the greenhouse, so we were able to shower it with the hose when it needed watering, and the ivy and creeping fig was periodically pinned to the wreath with florist wire so it could root into the moss.


So, as you can see, it just takes time, the proper plants and the right technique to make a living wreath – try one for yourself!





A Living Wreath With Plenty Of Wow!

living wreath...

living wreath…

This living wreath Jamie planted the other day has plenty of WOW factor, doesn’t it? She incorporated a very cool bromeliad plant, Cryptanthus ‘Black Mystic’,  and an annual trailing foliage plant used a lot in sunny containers – silver dichondra. The round, silvery foliage of the dichondra “echoes” the lighter markings in the cryptanthus beautifully. A third plant in this mix is streptocarpella, an open growing plant with airy blue flowers.

The wreath is made using a two piece metal form that is lined with green sheet moss and filled with a good, light potting soil. We use Fafard – a good soilless mix containing NO fertilizer or moisture holding products. Once all the plants are inserted into holes poked through the moss, additional moss is used to firm the plants in and the wreath is watered well to settle the soil. It’s been hanging in our bright greenhouse for a few weeks now and is settling in nicely!

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls...

Cryptanthus with the succulent string of pearls…

The cryptanthus also plays well with succulents – the foliage form is such a nice contrast with the roundness of other plants. You can see an example of this in the photo here…even there it has a bit of that “wow” factor!

We’ve gotten in more of these wreath forms if you’d like to try your hand at them, and we have more of the cryptanthus if you’d like one for yourself. They are really eye catching and so easy to care for.  We’ll show you in more detail how to make one of these wreaths in a later post – or, if you’re in the area, let us know if you’d like us to make one for you!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Botanicals Under Glass – We Have Everything You Need!

violas and fern

violas and fern

Aren’t these little glass frames great? You can either purchase them empty and put whatever strikes your fancy in them or we have others already done, like those shown here.

We’ve used violas for the small ones and a fern frond for the larger, but honestly, the possibilities are as endless as what is growing in your yard…



So…you’ll have your own mini botanical frame (or a grouping, perhaps?) that will add a touch of charm to a special spot in your home

a simple fern frond

a simple fern frond

This would also be a simple and fun project to do with a youngster – wouldn’t they love being able to pick just the perfect bloom for their frame!