Native Azaleas and Hybrid Aromi Deciduous Azaleas Add Blooms, Scent, and Structure to the Garden

Spring Garden

March garden scene…

March and April are the months in the south that finally drive winter out for good, after the usual roller coaster rides with temperatures rising then falling, and multiple cycles of freezing and thawing.

Though our last average frost isn’t until mid-April, this year the fat buds of cherry trees and crabapples, spiraea, forsythia, and many more have burst into fragrant, beautiful bloom, and neighborhoods are awash in color.

Snowball Viburnum buds

Snowball viburnums blooming in March

 

 

 

Favorite shrubs of mine that add to the spring symphony are our native deciduous azaleas and the hybrids that have come along in recent years.

We have a selection available now, and, as they’re considered by many to be some of our most beautiful flowering shrubs, you might like to add one or more to your garden this year.

 

Hummingbird Moth on Deciduous Azalea

Hummingbird moth…

Large, fragrant, honeysuckle like blooms open gradually, offering nectar to swallowtail butterflies and hummingbird moths. It’s a delight to catch these pollinators “working” the blossoms!

 

 

 

 

 

A mistake many people make when deciding where to put their deciduous azalea is placing it in too much shade.

 

They do need some sun to bloom well, so be sure to think about how much shade mature trees cast in your landscape when considering your placement.Hybrid Deciduous Azalea

Once you’ve decided on your spot, don’t make the next mistake many people do when planting a new shrub, especially deciduous azaleas which are shallow rooted, by planting too deeply. Plant the rootball slightly high, water well, and mulch with pinestraw.

 

 

 

Once your shrub is planted, don’t neglect water. Though they need a well draining soil, they also need even moisture, so be mindful of this especially through the first two summers and possible dry spells.

Though they can grow up to 12’ in height, I do very minimal pruning on my deciduous azaleas, because they’re in a rocky area and haven’t quite gotten that big.

If you wish to prune yours, it’s best to prune early blooming varieties right after they bloom, since the following year’s flower buds form in June. With judicious pruning you can achieve a smaller shrub at around 6’.

Native Azalea R. canescens bloom

 

 

 

 

Do you think you have just the right spot for at least one of these beauties? I hope you do. You’ll be creating  your own magnificent symphony of color and scent for neighbors, pollinators, (and you!) to appreciate and enjoy.

By Kris Blevons

 

Design Tips For Container Plantings Focused on Foliage

I’ve talked before about creating beautiful combinations using primarily foliage as a starting point and adding flowers to complement  leaves. Container Gardens - Green Pots

While this post is about choosing interesting plants for containers, the design concepts are used by the best garden designers for beautiful landscapes too. Plantings in pots are much less intimidating, though, and are a way to try new things just for fun.

 

 

 

Use your container as a starting point to give you hints about what will look best. Does it contribute color or texture, or is it fairly plain? The point here is that leaves in plantings add color too and sometimes last longer in a design than flowers; so think about this as you study the look and shape of your pot.

 

when the ligularia on the left and the iris aren’t in bloom, it’s the foliage contrasts that will capture your attention…

Are you looking for a container planting to be a focal point in a particular area? Some of the most dramatic plantings I’ve seen have made use of extremely large foliage plants, elephant ears being a notable example.

The photo here showing black elephant ears, fern, and ligularia in my garden is an example of a landscape design that would work in a contained planting too.  The addition of the chartreuse color of a creeping jenny to trail would add additional impact.

Conversely, smaller pots work well to showcase one striking specimen plant, and groupings of pots with one variety in each can be very beautiful.

Take a walk through a favorite greenhouse or nursery, looking for leaves that catch your eye (If the plants bloom too, consider it a bonus.) or start with some foliage plants you like and add blooming plants to accent them. Be sure to match the choices with the amount of available light, whether it’s full or part sun or shade.

The first collage shown here is a small sampling of heuchera leaves, a perennial that shows off its leaf color in the late winter and early spring. Houseplants are also very useful in plantings for shade and love the humidity our summer days and nights provide.

This planting of ferns, acorus and a rex begonia will appreciate a spot in filtered sun through the summer…

The second collage shows a few common but very beautiful houseplants. Showcasing a grouping of a few favorite and well grown rex begonias could also be a stunning tableau on any shady patio or porch.

The bottom line: Try to choose plants that play off your container’s size, color, and shape. When choosing your plants, consider your light and find those plants that have contrasting foliage shape, texture, varied sized leaves and that need the same water requirements.

 

 

All of these plants for a sunny spot will work well in a container…

Don’t be afraid to experiment with a new plant you’ve never tried before, and ask for help if you have questions. Enjoy your new plantings, and show them off to your friends!

 

All foliage…

Now that you’ve taken the time to choose just the right plants, take care of them. Start by purchasing a quality, light-weight soilless potting soil (We carry Fafard, and use it for all of our plantings.). Add a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote. 

 

Position the plants in the container, then remove the plants from their pots and set them on the soil. Do any have roots completely encircling the rootball? Loosen them gently before planting. Firm each plant into the pot, and water them well.

As your plantings grow, they will need occasional trimming and grooming. This is part of gardening, and should be looked on as a normal part of plant ownership. Don’t be afraid to clip a plant back that is overgrown and remove any yellow or discolored leaves. If you’ve added blooming plants to your combinations, be sure to deadhead, or remove old blooms, regularly.

By Kris Blevons

 

Cool Season Annuals…What Are They, And When Do You Plant Them?

The Birmingham area can see great fluctuations in temperatures in any given year, from sizzling summer highs in the upper 90’s to lows well below freezing in the winter complete with rain, sleet and even snow (Look HERE for a post on the blizzard of ‘93.).

Ornamental kale, trailing pansies, Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

Winter planting of cool season kale and pansies

For gardeners this can present a quandary when trying to decide among the dizzying array of plants at the local garden center. While the last average frost date here is mid-April, the soil can still be too cold for the real heat loving plants like zinnias, impatiens, lantana, and caladiums, to name just a few, that will sail through our blistering summers but languish in cold soil.

Enter the cool season annuals. These are the plants that prefer cooler temperatures and thrive in the early fall, winter, and early spring. If you know which ones they are and when to plant them, you’ll be ahead of the gardening game.

Foxglove after days of freezing temps

A few days ago, after we experienced temperatures in the teens at night with snow and cold weather for a number of days, I checked on some of my winter grown cool season plants to see how they’d fared.

The pansies, poppies, snapdragons, and foxgloves are very hardy plants that I’d added to the garden in October and November, though if you find larger transplants they can be planted in late winter as well. They looked fine, though some that were more exposed had damage. As temperatures warm they should rebound nicely.

But, since they’re also considered cool season annuals, they’ll fade as our spring heat arrives for good in May. Then it will be time to replace them with the real heat lovers I mentioned earlier.  Remember, our last average frost is right around mid-April. We can count on things warming up quickly after this date. This is also about when everything in sight is turning yellow from the pollen falling everywhere – including covering cool season plantings and our cars!Poppy - Buds Frozen

Cool season annuals have a tough life. They might like it cool, but freezing is a bit much even for them. The picture of the poppy here shows what happened to the majority of them that were just beginning to put up fat buds when temperatures dipped into the teens for a few nights in a row.

The buds were completely frozen, but the plant itself came through fine since since mulch helped keep the plant and rootball warm. They too will be in full bloom in another month or so and are examples of what can be planted from 4″ pots in the fall.

The second picture shows (circled) seedlings of larkspur and poppies grown from seed sown  directly into the garden in December. I sow extras any time from November to January when the soil is cold enough for their liking.

Poppy and Larkspur seedlings and a SnapdragonAt any rate, you can see these tiny plants in this sunny, south facing bed weren’t fazed by the cold temperatures at all. I’m looking forward to their blooms in the late spring!

Some other cool season annuals that are more frost tender will begin to arrive in the garden shop soon. They  include sweet alyssum, geraniums, petunias, nasturtiums, bacopa, and more. Because they come out of cushy greenhouse environments you’ll want to protect them  from any late freezes.

We’ll check back on these plantings in future posts.

 

By Kris Blevons

 

Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia chrysantha…A Great Shrub To Grow

I can’t imagine why, after all these years, this is the first I’m writing about one of my favorite shrubs, Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paperbush.

EdgeworthiaThis wonderful plant for our area has interest in all the seasons, culminating with fragrant blooms in spring.

Its open, well branched growth habit and winter silhouette in the garden is superb, as buds that form in the fall add interest and promise through the long winter months.

After the bloom period is over, the leaves begin to emerge with silky, white hairs, with a lovely, bluish color and slight silver tint.Edgeworthia leaves

The scent is what will knock you out though. It’s slightly spicy and is one of those fragrances that you’ll get a hint of before you see the plant. Believe me, everyone will ask what it is and where you got it the first time they come across it.Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia is native to woodlands in the Himalayas and China. The inner bark can be used to make paper, hence the name paperbush. Edgeworthia is grown in Japan expressly for making paper out of the inner bark…for bank notes.

Part shade is the best place to grow your edgeworthia. They appreciate rich soil, never too dry. If you try to grow it in too much sun the color won’t be quite as pretty. Speaking of color, in the fall the leaves turn shades of yellow. Yes, it really does give all season interest!

EdgeworthiaProvide it some room wherever you decide to plant it. Its width  at maturity will be at least 7 feet wide and as high.

Mine is very wide but not at 7 feet tall yet. Here you can see it, to the left of the tree in my garden. It seems to be continuing to spread, and has suckered a bit, obviously wanting to take up some more real estate. I think I’ll let it!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

A Christmas Poem

 

The year 2020 has been pretty tough
But you’ve all made it seem just a little less rough

March began so uncertain
Though soon we knew we’d stay open

Essential we were deemed, and
though relieved,

 

we found
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!

So the trees are all sold,
holiday flowers have new homes

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

Cyclamen – Winter Beauties For Your Home

Florist cyclamen, with their beautifully patterned leaves and pretty blooms, are one of the best flowering houseplants for winter color, and they’re usually available any time from November through late February, or until the weather warms. In nature hardy cyclamen grow naturally in cool, humid environments, and tubers gradually go through cycles of growth and dormancy.

In your home florist cyclamen prefer a bright spot with temperatures around 68 degrees during the day and preferably a bit cooler at night. If your room is very warm, or you overwater, the leaves will begin to yellow and the flowers won’t last long.

tiny buds unfurl from the center of the plant

Once you’ve found the right placement, water sparingly, but don’t let it get so dry that the leaves wilt. It’s best to water cyclamen from the bottom. Let it sit in a tray of water for about 30 minutes or until the soil is moist, then repeat when the soil begins to dry.

As flowers fade, keep them deadheaded to prolong the bloom. Usually there are tiny buds down in the very center of the plant, much like violets and another reason to water from the bottom. If your cyclamen is happy the buds will continue to offer flowers until it’s time to rest.

Eventually your cyclamen will bloom out and begin to go dormant. You’ll know this is happening because the leaves will yellow and eventually all disappear. This is normal, and hardy cyclamen in the garden do this naturally as the plant goes into a rest period through the summer months.  In your home, stop watering and place the plant in a cool dark place.

beautifully patterned leaves…

It will look like your plant is dying as the leaves turn yellow one by one.  After a period of some months of dormancy with little to no water, it will be time to bring it back into more light and begin to water again. Water it thoroughly until the soil is completely saturated, then resume normal care. You’ll begin to see leaves reappear, and buds should follow.

Cyclamen are a little more demanding in their water and light needs, but they more than reward you if you persist!

****If the buds on your cyclamen don’t open, you might have cyclamen mites. These tiny insects lay their eggs around the buds. The larva enters the bud after it hatches and suck sap from unopened petals. Unfortunately buds infested with mites won’t open and since these pests are difficult to manage its best to discard infested plants.

If you think your cyclamen has mites and you’d like to treat them, the information below is from the University of Kentucky:

“Often, it is better to discard infested plants than to attempt to control the problem with pesticides. If chemical control is attempted, isolate the infested plants to reduce potential spread of the mites. Spraying the plants with…insecticidal soap can provide effective control, especially after pruning back the growth. Three to four applications should be made at 3 to 5 day intervals with insecticidal soap.  Direct applications at both the lower and upper leaf surfaces.”

By Kris Blevons

 

Primulina (Chirita) Plants…Something New For You To Try!

chirita plants have beautiful foliage...

chirita plants have beautiful foliage…

No, we didn’t say Chiquita (It’s not a banana!) but chirita, as in chirita plant…these beauties are actually indoor plants closely related to the African violet in the gesneriad family. They’re relatively new on the plant scene, as many have only been released into cultivation within the last 15 years.

Though we are just now becoming familiar with them, Chirita (Also referred to as Primulina.)  is actually a huge genera and has 150 species, ranging from their native Sri Lanka and India through the Himalayas and into China and Southeast Asia. The islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo also claim them. It’s quite an exotic!  Many of the species can be seen growing in their native habitats on rocky hillsides or cliffs, often on limestone.

Primulina - ChiritaGrown here for their beautiful foliage and flowers, we carry them whenever they’re available as an addition to the indoor landscape. We have quite a few in stock now if you’d like to try one. Their care is fairly simple and similar to African violets, which makes sense since they’re closely related.

Let the soil lightly dry between watering and water with lukewarm water. It’s better to err on the side of dryness – they don’t like to be soggy (Remember those rocky hillsides they grow on naturally!). They will suffer if over fertilized but do need some food. So, every other watering,  mix an even formula fertilizer (20-20-20 would be good) at 1/4 strength.

IMG1744Avoid direct sun on the foliage, especially during the hottest hours of the day. So, near East, West, or shaded South facing windows are ideal for the bright light they need to thrive and bloom. Like most houseplants, temperatures between 60-80 degrees are ideal.

Repot when the plant has filled the pot completely. As with many plants, when you repot it’s best to move only one pot size up. Shallow pots are better than deep pots since they’ll be less likely to hold too much moisture. Always lightly moisten the new potting soil  (We use Fafard soilless mix.).

chirita and episcia

chirita and episcia

The foliage on these plants is so beautiful that, even when they’re not in bloom, the plant is still quite striking. We’ve combined them with pilea and also with episcia, another pretty foliage plant, to great effect.

For all you adventuresome folks out there, these beautiful and easy care plants are definitely worth trying – and, since there are many in stock now, this is the perfect time to come in and have your pick of the greenhouse…because, really, who doesn’t need a little more of the exotic in their lives?

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

 

Aromi Hybrid Azalea - Kris' Garden

Thoughts Of A Gardener Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

Like everything else, writing has been difficult during this extraordinary time. Words don’t flow as easily as they normally do, and the things I might write about this time of year – timing of planting annuals, perennial offerings, how to amend your soil – seem trivial.

Our little garden shop is celebrating its 30th year in the middle of a pandemic of epic proportion. In Alabama, garden shops are considered (rightly so) an essential business, so every day I get up, don my cloth mask, and come to work.

NurseryWork days are spent doing what I call the “Corona Dance”, stepping around, and back, then forward again, usually having to reroute, going the long way around to get where I was originally needing to be. Distancing myself from customers and fellow employees. So odd.

 

Most people are accommodating and have also begun wearing their own masks and gloves. I find myself being a field marshall of sorts most days: Directing people as they arrive to gather plants by their car, telling them we’ll get a credit card number there when they’re finished. The social distancing maneuvering would be a strange sight to an outsider if it wasn’t so apparent what was happening.Big Leaf Begonias

Some people are coming in now because they’re bored with being at home.  They’re looking for yard plantings to do with the kids, or they need to tackle long put off projects – pine strawing that overgrown natural area or building the raised bed they’ve thought about but never quite made the time for.

There also seem to be an unusual number of large piles of brush by the road, the probable result of many housebound homeowners armed with chainsaws.

Poppies - Kris' Front GardenOthers that come in are the ones I consider the real gardeners. At some point they usually say something like, “Thank you for being here. I don’t know what I’d do without my garden.”

They wander slowly through the nursery. It’s an outing for them away from being quarantined but also a release – they gather plants by their car and go back for more. This is their therapy, a respite from everything that’s wrong with the world. I understand and leave them to think and plan.

I, of course, think that gardening is an essential art and that garden shops are essential businesses. At face value, we carry items that people can use to provide for themselves: Vegetable and herb plants for food, food items to eat. But, even more than that, we are essential for peace of mind, for calm.Woodland - Kris' Garden

I know this is true for me. Especially now. My days are spent each week dancing around, unable to help people in the comfortable way I have for years.

I separate and work distantly from fellow employees and find what was once easy has become so complicated simply from not being able to work in close proximity to others. It is exhausting.

Woodland - Kris' GardenMy garden is a complete release from everything. It is where I go to lose myself – to work hard, get sweaty and dirty, and, yes, to sit and daydream as well. Clematis 'Niobe' - Kris' Garden

The truth is my garden is essential to my sense of normalcy during an unnatural time. I know the snapdragons I planted last fall will bloom as they do every spring, the roses will bud, some plants will thrive, others will not. It’s a comfort to know that no matter what, the natural order of things will continue.

I hope your garden gives you peace now too.

By Kris Blevons

Guidelines for shopping at Oak Street Garden Shop:

1. Wear a mask or other face covering. Even if you feel well, you may be asymptomatic and unknowingly pass on this extremely contagious virus. Do this for others – including employees who must interact with a lot of people all day, every day.
2. Maintain social distance of 6’ – Yes, this is weird, it doesn’t come naturally, but it is very, very important. Don’t let your guard down – we’ve seen people casually walking by each other. Social Distance!
3. Please don’t congregate in one spot – you might not notice other people wanting to look at plants near you.
4. Leave your pets at home. Much as we love to see them, it adds to the difficulty of moving through the nursery. Trust us, they’ll get extra treats after this virus is past us!
5. Leave children at home. Even in the best of times it’s hard to keep track of a little one while you’re trying to shop, and they may even be an innocent carrier of the virus.
6. Limit your party to no more than 2 people. Remember, others will also be trying to shop and social distance in the area.
7. Be aware of others around you, and shop efficiently. Put all plants by your car, or if you’re parked on the side in an open area on that end of the nursery. We will get your credit card information there when you’re ready.

🌻🌿🌿We value all of you and want to make your shopping experience with us a safe one. Thank you for your help and cooperation!🌿🌿🌻

 

 

 

Celebrating 30 Years With A Look Back – A Decade Of Change 2000-2010

The first 10 years of Oak Street Garden Shop were marked by slow and steady growth. Of course, any successful business has to “go with the flow” and roll with the sometimes sucker punches of weather, employee turnover, and unforeseen expenses.

9/11Memorial

9/11 memorial

The decade of the 2000’s certainly held its share of surprises though. It began with the national tragedy of 9/11, a memory seared into the collective conscience of every one of us. No one would have dreamed in Oak Street Garden Shop’s beginnings in 1990 that a piece of New York City’s  World Trade Center would have a place directly across the street (many years after the tragedy, as part of a memorial in front of a newly constructed City Hall and fire station complex  in the next decade), or that a completely rebuilt 2-story library would be completed in the spring of 2001, or that a devastating drought would bring the business to its knees, simultaneously giving birth to a recognized and respected ‘green industry’.

Emmet O'Neal Library

Emmet O’Neal Library

Looking back, it just doesn’t seem possible we lived through all of that and more. The old Emmet O’Neal library came down quickly and went up just as fast, though it began with the incessant pounding day after day after day of the piledrivers, driving deep into the Mountain Brook bedrock.

My head had never hurt so badly as it did those weeks of that early construction. The pounding continued in our heads even after we left for the day and the next day and the day after…until finally, blessedly, it ended and the building began to rise and rise and rise across the corner from Oak Street Garden Shop.

The one-two punch of an historic drought of 2007 and a downturn in the economy in 2008 were the next big tests of the now established business. Until 2007, the shop had been running  like clockwork, and new customers continued to find our little shop across from the library.

Things were looking good. But then, in 2007, the rains stopped.  Birmingham received barely 29 inches of rainfall – well below normal rainfall of nearly 54.  A mere 31.85 inches fell in Atlanta, also well below the average, and Huntsville was just as bad. The entire southeast was going into a drought.

With such serious water shortages, the Birmingham Water Board directed the full force of its weight toward outdoor watering restrictions, and we found ourselves in the direct line of fire.  Because the BWW  publicly declared all garden related businesses “non-essential“, by their new rules  we were not allowed to water even any of the very few plants we were stocking.

Put in the bluntest terms, since they considered our work “non-essential”, it wouldn’t matter to them  if we went out of business.  Billy Angell knew right away that, if he couldn’t convince the Mountain Brook City Council to create a special ordinance allowing Oak Street Garden Shop to water its plant inventory, he might as well close his doors for good.

It was a very scary and depressing time for us all.  The stress was etched on Billy Angell’s face as he stood before the Mountain Brook city council that Tuesday evening.  He had totaled all the water bills for Oak Street Garden Shop from the previous year – a grand total of $500.  His personal home usage had been much more.  Thankfully, the city leaders at the time valued Oak Street Garden Shop enough to allow the hand watering with hoses of our plants, a practice which continues to this day. It still surprises people that the amount of water we use irrigating plants is not more significant.  In fact, we found hand irrigating to be even more efficient and  eventually completely  dismantled the irrigation system for good a few years later.

The battle certainly wasn’t over though, as the ripple effects of this historic drought were astounding. Many growers and nurseries, because of outright outdoor watering bans in surrounding areas and states, went out of business. We were witnessing the industry  we had worked in for years casually tossed off as not worth listening to, helping, or being of any value at all to the community or state.

It was a mind-numbing thought. Garden shops and wholesale nurseries  watched as car washes continued without restriction, though people were told they shouldn’t wash their cars so much. Large industrial plants continued to use enormous amounts of water unabated, and indoor usage of water was never threatened beyond suggestions of how to conserve water inside and the discussion of a tiered billing system.

In fact, by their rules, we could water with abandon inside the greenhouse. Of course, that hardly mattered since only a few were buying plants they’d have to water, be it inside or out.  And, while we understood that cutting back on outdoor water usage was absolutely necessary, it seemed to us that a more balanced approach, and one which included the monitoring of indoor water usage in homes and businesses, needed to be a more focused part of the discussion. Clearly, and most importantly, our industry needed to join forces to prove our worth.

So, at this critical  juncture in the shop’s history, Billy Angell found himself part of a small but determined group of nursery owners, growers, and industry leaders. They had watched with mounting concern the outright and complete water bans going into effect in the Atlanta area and in many other parts of Georgia and had seen the serious toll they were taking on the green industry in that state. They also remembered the outright water ban that had affected Birmingham during a drought in the fall of 2001. So, feeling as though they were fighting for their livelihoods, they persevered, going to and speaking out at many Birmingham Waterworks Board meetings, pushing for more even-handed  conservation measures.

In large part due to this pressure, the water restrictions imposed did not include an outright ban. The drought continued into 2008 and segued into the downturn in the economy, so we all breathed a sigh of relief when the rains finally came again. This crisis had energized the Alabama Landscape and Nurseryman’s Association, though, and an economic impact study was commissioned which showed the extent of the newly-coined ‘Green Industry’s’ worth to the state of Alabama. Now there were solid numbers to back up our words.

What a decade, indeed…

By Kris Blevons

For me, 2007 and 2008  were difficult years for other reasons too. In June 2008, following the summer of the southeast drought, the Rock River in Wisconsin, where my parents’ home is (and where I grew up), went through historic and devastating flooding. For weeks their home, in Fort Atkinson,  and many others were on the brink of  being lost as torrential rains continued non-stop on top of  soil saturated from more than 100″ of snowmelt. The stress was palpable for them, and  for me too, being at such a distance and feeling so helpless. At the height of the flooding, as the river crested, my sister and brother-in-law drove to my parents’ home from theirs in Milwaukee to evacuate them if necessary. They made it across the final bridge as swiftly moving river water crept over the road.  My parents’ home miraculously was spared, but thousands of people and many communities throughout the Midwest were severely impacted. Looking back now, the incredible juxtaposition of flood and drought and the effect both had on my life is still difficult to think about.  

Do you have a favorite memory of Oak Street Garden Shop? We’re compiling thoughts from customers and vendors and will print them in a future blog post. Send us your thoughts, either by mail to Oak Street Garden Shop 115 Oak St. Birmingham, Al 35213 or by email to oakstreetgardenshop@gmail.com  

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

Vegetable/Herb Plant List – Spring 2020

The last month has been like nothing we’ve ever seen in our 30 years in business. Because of the threat of COVID-19, quite a few people have asked if we could list the vegetable and herb plants that we have in stock at any given time.

This post serves as the list of most of the vegetables and herbs we carry, but please be aware that availabilities and amounts of plants in stock can change quickly from one day to another.

Our social distancing is being strictly enforced. We ask all of you to maintain the 6’ distancing between others at all time. Please be aware of everyone around you, and remember this is for others health as well as your own. Gather the plants you would like to purchase and place them by your car. When you have everything  you want we’ll write down prices and you’ll go to check out.

Please  go into the greenhouse and stand behind the red line to be checked out. If there are people ahead of you continue to maintain the 6’ distance.  You’ll read your card number to the cashier who will take your name and phone number in lieu of your signature.

We can also gather any plants you’d like, charge your credit card and take them to your car,  but we ask for your patience as we are short staffed through this crisis.

Most vegetable plants are in 3 1/2” pots, some are in 4” pots, and later in the season there may be tomatoes in 6” pots. Most herbs are also in 3 1/2” or 4” pots as well.

VEGETABLES:  Cantaloupe; Cucumber, Burpless Supreme; Cucumber, Mexican Sour Gherkin; Cucumber, Saladmore Bush; Eggplant, Black Beauty; Eggplant, Ichiban; Okra, Clemson Spineless; Watermelon, Crimson Sweet

PEPPERS: Bhut Jolokia; Biggie Chile; Carolina Reaper; Cayenne Long Slim; Cow Horn; Gypsy; Habanero; Hot Banana; Jalapeño; Mad Hatter; Sweet Banana; Bell, California Wonder; Bell, Golden Calawonder; Trinidad Scorpion

SQUASH: Dark Green Zucchini; Multipik; Yellow Crookneck

TOMATOES: Amelia; Atkinson; Better Boy; Brandywine Red; Celebrity; Cherokee Purple; Early Girl; Indigo Rose; Parks Whopper; Roma; Sun Sugar;  Supersteak; Sweet 100; Tiny Tim;

HERBS: Basil, Sweet; Sweet n Spicy Mix; African Blue; Pesto Party; Lemon; Catnip; Chives; Cilantro; Dill; Fennel Ribera; Lavender, Anouk; Downy; French; Goodwin Creek; Phenomenal; Provence; SuperBlue; Mint, Chocolate, Corsican, Kentucky Colonel; Mojito; Peppermint, Pineapple; Spearmint; Oregano, Greek; Oregano, Variegated; Parsley, Italian Flat, Curly; Rosemary, Prostrate; Tuscan Blue; Sage, Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten; Golden; Purple; Tricolor; Pineapple; Stevia; Tarragon, French; Thyme, Golden Lemon; Lemon; Silver; Winter Garden

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating 30 Years With A Look Back – Build It And They Will Come…

There are many businesses in the surrounding areas that have celebrated more years than our 30, but I felt the need to mark the passing of time and the evolution of this small independent gardenshop in the Mountain Brook suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.

Billy and Jon Culver...building the shadehouse

Billy and Jon Culver…building the shadehouse

With the 2013 overhaul of our website by Rebecca Moody, this process has become as easy as writing a blog post, and events that might otherwise be forgotten or dismissed as unimportant can be recognized and remembered. And, whether these  words are read or not, it feels good to know they’re here and won’t be allowed to fade with faulty memory.

From Oak Street Garden Shop’s beginnings in 1990, with his construction of the first shade house and greenhouse, to the process of buying the lumber and saws necessary to put together the tables and erect the fences that would surround his nursery, it was obvious owner Billy Angell enjoyed woodworking and building.

It was a project...

It was a big project…

He knew that his flat-topped and quite ordinary shade house, covered with its simple shade cloth, wouldn’t do forever.

Wanting something more permanent and visually striking (and knowing this would be a big woodworking  project),  he was excited to get started and began to make his drawings for submission to Mountain Brook City Hall for design approval and a building permit.

With the city’s consent granted in the mid 90’s, Billy and employee Jon Culver began working on the new shade house after the busy holiday season had passed.  At this time of the year the nursery was relatively empty, so moving in the quantities of lumber needed was also easier, though the weather didn’t always cooperate.

Winter snow while building the shadehouse...

Winter snow while building the shadehouse…

In fact, you can see the snow in one of these pictures (Thankfully this wasn’t the year of the blizzard!). With additional help provided by Eddy Robinson (a friend and fellow carpenter), the new shade house slowly took shape, and its 25′  high A-frame, after completion, would become a prominent feature of his garden shop. It was a very exciting event!

An Early Container Plantings...Billy with Eun Joo Early 90s...

An Early Container Planting…

While Billy, Jon, and Eddy worked each day raising the shadehouse, the shop hummed steadily along.  Ellen had begun putting combinations of green and flowering plants in baskets the first year of business to give as gifts, and by now there were many people using these baskets to provide fresh plants in their homes too.

As a result we stayed very busy at the two work tables, situated at the time on either side of the entrance to the greenhouse. Most days of the week we worked evenings after closing to fill orders to be picked up the next day.

Because these tables were in plain sight on each side of the front doors, we tried to keep them as neat as possible. The original  plan had been to keep one clean for wrapping potted plants as gifts, while the other work space would be allowed to get “dirty”, the result of making basket combinations, planting, etc.

The sign being built...

The sign being built…

That arrangement didn’t last long though, since we were creating more plantings than wrapping flowers,  and potting soil and plants inevitably ended up all over both tables. This would eventually become quite a problem as more employees came and the design business grew. Where to put the finished baskets and container plantings would also need to be addressed soon, as there were more and more orders to find room for.

Confederate Jasmine had reached the top of the sign...it was killed the winter of 2013.

Confederate Jasmine had reached the top of the sign…it was killed the winter of 2013.

It was during the construction of the shadehouse that the distinctive Oak Street Garden Shop sign planter went up. It has, over these many years, become one of my favorite planting spaces, giving me opportunity to showcase those plants that will handle the brutal Alabama summer heat radiating off the asphalt in July and August (And has offered lessons on those that can’t too!).

I’ve also been able to combine many cool season plants in the winter months, have grown vines of Confederate jasmine, Mandevilla, Carolina Jasmine, and Moonvine up its length, and tried Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ , a beautiful selection of our non-invasive Native American wisteria, in our 25th year. I’m so glad it’s a planter sign. It seems fitting for a garden shop. Unfortunately, in 2019 it came down in a wind storm. Nothing lasts forever…

This aerial view from 1997 shows the finished shadehouse...

This aerial view from 1997 shows the finished shadehouse in front of the greenhouse…

The aerial picture shown here was taken sometime in the fall of 1997 and shows off the shade house, which still looks new. It was in the spring of this year that a shy 20 year old named Jamie applied for a job.  Like me, she’d  gotten lost trying to find her way and tells of finally following a white unmarked delivery van that unbelievably led her to the shop. How happy we are she chose that particular white van to follow! It’s been a joy to see how she’s grown as a mother, an artist, and now as manager of the greenhouse.

Shadehouse completed...mid-90's

Shadehouse completed…mid-90’s

So the final physical framework of the building was completed, and there was a tightknit framework of employees as well.. Soon, though, this would change. By the turn of the new century, and the end of Oak Street Garden Shop’s first decade in business, Ellen has been wooed away to begin a writing career for Southern Living Magazine and Jon ventures out to open his own garden shop. In the next posts, a friend makes the perfect suggestion for changing the work table layout, we lived through the first construction across the street as the Emmit O’Neal library is razed and rebuilt, and a devastating drought threatens to end the business. 

Do you have a favorite memory of Oak Street Garden Shop? We’re compiling thoughts from customers and vendors and will print them in a future blog post. Send us your thoughts, either by mail to Oak Street Garden Shop 115 Oak St. Birmingham, Al 35213 or by email to oakstreetgardenshop@gmail.com  

We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted by Kris Blevons

Celebrating 30 Years With A Look Back…The Blizzard of ’93

The horticulture business is framed out of necessity by the weather and the vagaries of nature… heat, cold, storms, wind, drought. When Billy Angell built Oak Street Garden Shop’s first  shade house early in 1990 and finished the greenhouse at the end of that year, he knew that, even with these  protections for the plants, the weather would always be a factor in whether a year was exceptional or just average.

Blizzard of '93

The day after…

No one in horticulture ignores weather reports, and Billy was certainly no different. It’s a typical pattern: Rainy days are usually slow days, and a string of great weather makes any nurseryman smile. Snow in the south is definitely a recipe for a bad greenhouse day or, more likely, multiple days.  I know many of you remember Birmingham’s historic blizzard of March 12, 1993, and have your stories to tell. Here is Oak Street Garden Shop’s:

The local and national weathermen had been analyzing the forecast carefully for days, and, by all accounts, the conditions were ripe for a possible historic snow event. But how much? Just a week earlier multiple spring shipments had rolled in on large trucks, been unloaded, priced, and set out in the nursery. And, though this was only the third year of his fledgling start-up, Oak Street Garden Shop, Billy Angell had been in the nursery business for many years previous and knew this weather forecast had the potential to spell big trouble.image

Looking at the plant material, he saw with his practiced eye many shrubs with buds or open blooms just arrived from the warmer gulf coast, tropical blooming plants of plumbago, beautiful yellow “daisy trees” (euryops) from the west coast, and many, many more with tender new growth that would easily sustain foliage damage in temperatures near freezing, let alone below.

This was a constant worry each late winter/early spring. Shipments of plants arrived, and, inevitably, the Alabama winter temperatures would plummet. We’d shift pots close together and cover them with poly and frost cloth, moving other even more tender tropicals into the warmth of the greenhouse. This moving, covering, uncovering, and endless shifting would become a routine rhythm of early spring not only this year but each of the many years that followed.

image

An impassable road on the day after…

The morning of Friday, March 12th, I came in to work, expecting to begin the process of covering the many plants in the nursery and moving some inside. Billy had been watching the forecast, though, and told his small staff the decision he’d come to the night before. “I think we need to move everything in,” he said soberly.

“So you’ve changed your mind about covering?”, I asked. “I’ve been going round and round about it,”, he answered.  “But, if the totals they’re predicting come true, I’d rather have everything in the greenhouse than have the weight of that much snow collapse the poly over them.”

image

I think that was my car…

We all looked at each other. If we were going to be taking everything in, we needed to get to work, as it was going to take non-stop moving to get it done before the day was through. Billy had worked out a plan the night before between watching weather forecasts. The largest trees and shrubs would be moved first, loaded onto carts if they weren’t too large, walked in one by one if they were.

Back and forth, in and out we went, lining the large pots in straight lines and right up against each other, tight. There’d certainly be no getting to plants once they were in place. Starting on the far left side right up against the wall of the cool cell, slowly but steadily filling in and moving toward the middle and finally to the very opposite end of the greenhouse, it was becoming a solid patchwork of greens, yellows, pinks, blues. It seemed as though all the colors of spring were being safeguarded from the coming weather.

By that afternoon, finally finished, we looked over the sea of plants. Numbering in the hundreds, trees, tropicals, shrubs, perennials, herbs, and tender annuals, all side by side from one end of the greenhouse to the other with not an inch to spare between.

imageExhausted, we went next door to have a drink and relax a bit before heading to our respective homes and families.  Relieved we were through and enjoying a few laughs, we all suddenly noticed how heavily the large flakes were falling and began saying our goodbyes, heading  out into the rapidly falling snow.

By the time this historic snow storm was over, the totals were over 12″ in our southern city and thousands of people were without power. We all knew then that no one would forget where they were and what they were doing leading up to and through the Blizzard of ’93.

The next day Billy trekked through the foot-deep snow the mile from his house to Oak Street Garden Shop, relieved to see that the greenhouse had withstood the weight of the heavy, wet snow. And, though the generator refused to start to power the large heaters, the fact there were hundreds of plants packed so tightly together served to provide just enough protection from the cold to keep them from freezing, and, amazingly, only a very few were lost.Birdhouse in snow

So the weather, bad as it was, had not won this round since his nurseryman’s decision had been the right one. Less than a month later (after having moved every plant back to its proper place, then repeatedly covering and uncovering, moving others in and out and back again as temperatures still dipped down, then back up in the normal rhythm), we finally enjoyed the full and exuberant throes of spring, and the Blizzard of ’93 slowly and easily slid into distant memory.

This is the second post in a series celebrating Oak Street Garden Shop’s 30th year in business. For the first, highlighting Oak Street Garden Shop’s beginnings, take a look HERE.

Posted  by Kris Blevons

 

 

Celebrating 30 Years With a Look Back…(Part 1)

1991...The entrance - note the flat-topped shade house...

1991…The entrance – note the flat-topped shade house…

How do you describe the passage of  30 years in a blog post? That’s a tough question, and one I grappled with for quite some time before writing and rewriting this first post. The process would probably be easier for an outsider, dryly describing dates, events, and facts, I thought.

Billy

Billy and the yellow tent…

But, having worked at Oak Street Garden Shop for 29  of these 30 years, it’s so much more than the passage of time marked as dates on paper. It’s all of the wonderful customers we’ve known from the very beginning, many becoming friends, and, sadly, more than a few with us only in memory.

It’s the vendors we’ve created lasting relationships with, through the boom years and a few rocky spells, steady compatriots in a fickle, tough business. Though we saw a few of those fall by the wayside, too…greenhouse and nursery owners that finally gave up their dreams.  Nothing stays the same. In 30 years there have been so many changes. And the sturdy greenhouse itself, once shiny and new, also shows the passage of time, though it’s been well and truly loved.

1991...Inside the Greenhouse

1991…Inside the Greenhouse

It’s the employees that have come and gone through the years, each having brought their unique personalities, talents, and humor to their jobs, making each day one to look forward to.  The ones that have moved on and those that have stayed are all players in its history and have contributed so much.

Looking through various assorted pictures, it’s obvious there are gaps. 30 years ago we didn’t have ubiquitous cell phones out and ready to capture every moment. It took effort and thought to remember to bring the camera, get some photos, and hope our chosen shots turned out.

1991 - At the end of the nursery by what is now Dyron's.

1991 – At the end of the nursery by what is now Dyron’s.

So Billy Angell established Oak Street Garden Shop without any fanfare on a chilly day in March, 1990, by putting up a yellow tent and setting some flats of bedding plants on the table he’d set up under it. His greenhouse was nearing completion, and he was sitting in the middle of what used to be a parking lot in the center of Crestline Village, in his hometown of Mountain Brook, Alabama.

He had aptly named this new venture Billy Angell’s Oak Street Garden Shop. Outwardly he exuded confidence, but he also knew he had to succeed, since he had a mortgage, 2 children, and a wife to support. At the end of each day of business he rolled down the sides of the tent, picked up the cash drawer, loaded it into his car, and went home.

1991 - See the red lines outlining the "beds"? Shade house is flat...covered by shade cloth.

1991 – See the red lines outlining the “beds”? Shade house is flat…covered by shade cloth.

The first project on this site had actually begun earlier with the design and building of a shade house, constructed on weekends. This was a simple flat structure, with a shade cloth laid over it, to protect plants from the hot sun and scorching heat that radiated off the asphalt of the old parking lot.

He worked steadily, as curious people watched  and asked questions. One day two young women walking by stopped and asked him what he was building. “I’m going to open a nursery,” he replied. They smiled and walked on, then turned around and came back. “What ages children will you be accepting?”

Billy and Ellen.. 1991

Billy and Ellen.. 1991

That January, he left his other job for good and was ready to begin building his greenhouse. It would have just enough room for a tiny office and restroom tacked on to one end (Until it was completed, the  “facilities” consisted of a port-a-john and plants were watered with a hose hooked up to the restaurant next door). The greenhouse was finished that fall having been completely built by himself and a young boy, Tanner Broughton.

Oak Street Garden Shop was now officially in business with full time help from a former employee, Ellen Riley, and part time help from a neighbor. Having run a much larger nursery and landscape company previously, his smaller version was the perfect fit for him and the community,  nestled next door to a favorite local restaurant and situated  across the street from Mountain Brook’s City Hall and fire station and the much loved Emmet O’Neal Library. It was truly a neighborhood garden shop.

Vignette at the end of the nursery...early 90s

Vignette at the end of the nursery…early 90s

As that first year progressed, it seemed the local residents enjoyed having plants available in their community, and they supported their hometown entrepreneur. The Birmingham News even came out and took a picture. He outlined “beds” in paint to delineate where “paths” through the nursery should be, envisioning an English garden with perennials, shrubs, and planters eventually filling in the empty spaces…and, slowly, they did.

The next year it was apparent that business was going well, and the addition of a second full time employee was warranted. This was more than a little nerve-wracking for Billy, as he wanted to get just the right person for his brand new business. Many people applied for the job, including me.

1991...Kris at the first cash register...

1991…Kris at the first cash register…

The day I applied I had gotten lost and pulled into the Fire Department to ask where Oak Street Garden Shop was located. The fireman grinned and pointed across the street. “Over there,” he said. I looked, there was no sign yet, just a few plants and a greenhouse (How did I miss that?!).  I was the most persistent applicant it turns out,  and it paid off, as he wasn’t entirely sold on me, but gave me the job anyway. He tells me now that Ellen had to talk him into giving me a shot.

My first days at Oak Street Garden Shop were rocky. Asked to weed a pot in the nursery, I dutifully grabbed a handful of weeds and fire ants raced up my arm, stinging me to pieces. It also  took some  time  to acclimate to working virtually outside through the heat of summer in the south, as I was from the relatively cooler midwest. But I hung in and slowly but surely became hooked.

As the years progressed, we weathered the historic Birmingham blizzard of ’93, (We’ll explore that in a future post.) more employees came, a new shade house was built, customer’s tastes dictated more planted containers, a fresh produce area was added, and a garden came to life across the street. More on these developments in the next posts. 

Do you have a favorite memory of Oak Street Garden Shop? We’re compiling thoughts from customers and vendors and will print them in a future blog post. Send us your thoughts, either by mail to Oak Street Garden Shop 115 Oak St. Birmingham, Al 35213 or by email to oakstreetgardenshop@gmail.com  

We look forward to hearing from you!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl Statuary 2020

A Sampling of Statuary and Planters To Start The New Year

Outdoor Planters 2020Statuary 2020

 

 

 

 

Each January the first shipments of planters and statuary come in, and we try to mix it up a bit, ordering some things we haven’t had before along with others that are tried and true.Garden Spheres 2020Statuary 2020Outdoor Planters 2020Planters 2020Statuary January 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whimsical frogs, little animals, a bench for the garden, and more are displayed at the end of the nursery, and they’re easy to browse, especially in the winter months before we fill up with the plants that will take center stage through the spring.Owl Statuary 2020Outdoor Planters and Statuary 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a glimpse of the offerings so far. More will come in as spring approaches, and don’t forget to take a look in the greenhouse as well for all kinds of smaller pots and fountains of different sizes.Statuary 2020Statuary January 2020Statuary January 2020Outdoor Planters 2020Statuary 2020

 

Winter Wreath

Creating A Grapevine Winter Wreath With Nature’s Offerings


Winter Wreath with Lichen and BirchGrapevine wreaths offer rustic beauty any time of the year. We had a few still in stock from the holidays, and I decided to dress this one up with lichen, birch bark, moss, and branches to make it a wintry white wreath full of texture and color.

Birch bark is a favorite to work with, and it brings back fond memories of family camping trips in the upper midwest with my family. The papery white bark seemed to glow in the afternoon light, a beautiful sight through all the seasons in the northern woods.Winter Wreath

The birch tears easily and can be curled through the wreath or glued on as well. I worked three pieces onto the grapevine fashioning a “bow” of sorts and added smaller pieces halfway around the grapevine, gluing and tying them in place.

Winter Wreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Wreath Closeup

 

Branches covered in lichen and moss are another favorite design element, and we still had a few beautiful ones that I placed onto the grapevine next. Once those were attached,  it still needed a few more pieces of lichen in spots, but it was almost complete.Winter Wreath Closeup

Finally I tucked some dark green reindeer moss where I thought it needed a bit of color, and for a finishing touch slipped a few popcorn stems into the grapevine to add a pop of  white.

If you want to try a project like this, remember that nature always offers the best decorative elements, and you just might find them in your own back yard. Don’t want to make your own?  Come see us if you’d like one of ours!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

Leaf Stacking Design


All the best gardeners I know have a great eye not only for finding the right place in their landscape for plants they love but also for combining them in a way that shows off leaves as well as blooms.Woodland Garden


Thinking about this I walked through my garden picking leaves at random, noting their shape, color and texture. I laid them on the ground and created a design of sorts – a fleeting collage of color. It became even more brilliant a few days later after a rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there’s no playing with leaves today. Today is the day to prepare  for the first hard freeze of the season. Tender plants moved into the garage for the winter, special plants saved for the next growing season, and outdoor pots and newly planted beds watered ahead of the cold.

 

I know I’ll take another walk though weeks from now, after all the leaves have fallen, been raked and piled, and become compost gold. As I walk my eye will fall on evergreen trees, shrubs, and  ground covers, the workhorses of winter and  the “bones” of a good garden. Perhaps I’ll choose a few to make a winter leaf design…

 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 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.

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 the beginning of 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

 

Fall Is Here, And The Harvest Is In!

Fall seems to have arrived, at last! When temperatures slowly drop after the sweltering long, hot days of summer, we all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year the heat felt like it would never let go, and we were unloading the harvest coming in from Tennessee as the temps soared higher and higher, nearing the 100 degree mark daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still it’s an exciting time, unloading by hand (It’s quite the workout!) all of the beautiful and unusual pumpkins and gourds. How could anyone imagine the variety and intricacy of each one? Each one individual, and, I dare say, even exhibiting personality if you look closely enough.

Speaking of personalities, the ‘Lunch Lady’ gourds really show off theirs (They also have my favorite name!). The other day a woman walked by with her ‘Lunch Lady’ purchase, one whose neck was turned back against itself exactly like a swan’s. I practically tackled her as she walked out the door, exclaiming that she’d found the best one and if I’d spotted it I’d have designed something with it for sure.

She laughed, agreeing that it did look just like a swan, and left. A few hours later she returned, saying she wanted to use her “swan gourd” on the center of her table and she had a silver platter she’d like to put it on, could I design something for her? I include the pictures of it in this post so you can see how it turned out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacking pumpkins is still a “thing”, and we have all sizes for them. Here’s an over the top giant stack, using white pumpkins with added elements and branches between each pumpkin. Other smaller stacks also incorporate gourds, smaller pumpkins, lichen, and other organic items. There’s a lot of detail in these pieces!

Succulent pumpkins also continue to be huge, though we’ve put our own twist on them, adding more to our designs besides the beautiful succulents.

 

 

 

 

This vignette was created using a customer’s large piece of driftwood. Set on a large round table, different shapes, sizes, and colors of pumpkins and gourds are nestled into the wood piece and bittersweet, moss, and angelvine complete the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using lichen branches, different dried materials, and mosses has been exciting for all of us. Stretching the boundaries is always an interesting and fun thing, and we’re so grateful to have customers who appreciate this as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are just a sampling of the things we’re doing – each piece is a custom design, carefully thought out. The addition of bittersweet adds yet more color to some pieces, like the two here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We use bittersweet whenever it’s available. We’re grateful that our supplier in North Carolina takes the time to cut long, beautiful pieces for us. We have one customer who wraps her chandelier with it each fall. She showed us pictures of it; it is beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are more examples of some things we’ve been working on. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made In Alabama, Lisa Bunting Howard Pots and Vases Are Handmade Beauty!

Lisa Bunting Howard PotsLast year we began carrying Birmingham native Lisa Bunting Howard’s beautiful handmade pots. Pictured here are some we’ve had in the past, though no two are alike and we fly through each shipment quickly.

 

 

 

 

With the publishing of this post we’re pleased to say Lisa has delivered another group of pots and even some small bud vases. We think any one of them would make a beautiful gift for someone special or to mark an occasion.

Anything of this quality and made with such attention to detail is definitely worth waiting for. We are happy to take your name and give you a call when more arrive if you come in between shipments.

Hope to see you soon!

 

 

 

Ginger Clark’s “We Bees Working” Local Honey Is HERE!

We are thrilled to announce that we are exclusively offering Mountain Brook resident gardener, bee keeper, and friend Ginger Clark’s “We Bees Working” honey at Oak Street Garden Shop and Local Market.

Stop in and try some next time you’re in the neighborhood. Her honey is tasty and the packaging is beautiful as well, so either size make the perfect gift too. We’ll also offer honeycomb as it is available.