All posts by juliestanley2013

Gardening with Dwarf Conifers for Mother’s Day

I celebrated my second Mother’s Day this year. Last year we spent the day on a five hour car ride, so this year my sweet Husband offered that we could do whatever I wanted. What I wanted was spend some time outside in my garden.

We decided to change up things in the front yard, so that meant these dwarf conifers were out of a home. We potted them up and then I went to work designing some color spots for the backyard patio.

Backyard Patio Container 2Backyard Container 1

Earlier this year I talked about garden inspirations. I posted that back when it was still just the beginning of winter. So many of us had such a long, cold winter that I could no longer imagine our space as crisp, green and white like I had envisioned. I want color. I want color now! What are some good ways to add color to your garden?

Perhaps we should cover a little color theory.

This is a color wheel:

Color Wheel

It shows all the colors- Primary: Red, Yellow and Blue. Secondary: Green, Violet and Orange. Tertiary: Blue-Violet, Violet-Red, Blue-Green, Yellow-Green, Orange-Yellow, Red-Orange.

How can looking a color wheel help with adding color to your garden? Consider the wheel when looking for pairings. There are a few tried and true schemes that always look great.

  • Monochromatic is when you choose all one color. For example, planting several different plants in one color- like green.
  • You can also go with one color family, like cool (Green, Blue, Violet) or warm(Yellow, Red, Orange).
  • You can pair one color with a neutral like yellow with white.

Or you can use a complementary scheme.

complementary-wheel

These are colors that are opposite on the wheel. They make each other look brighter and bolder when paired together.

So I considered these principles when I planted my pots on my special day!

Here are the final products:

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This pairs green and white with bright pink. White is a neutral that makes the pink and green pop. Pink is a tint of Red (Red mixed with White) and Red is a complement of Green. The dwarf juniper has a silvery color to it that pairs beautifully with this scheme and it works great in containers. I picked out some begonias, snapdragons and dahlias to complement it because they are my favorites.

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Here I planted a different dwarf juniper (‘Gold Cone’) with a yellow color on the leaves.  I added all red, orange and yellow color spots to create a pot that looked like it was on fire. There are more snapdragons, begonias and dahlias as well as a carnation. I can’t wait to see how this looks at the end of the summer.

Did anyone else get to spend some quality time in their garden this last weekend? How are you incorporating color into your outdoor spaces?

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Spring DIY- Easter Centerpiece

Each year we host an Easter get together for our families, and each year I try to think of new and interesting ways to decorate my table. This year I decided to try a little DIY centerpiece and let that be the focal point of the entire table.

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Here’s how it all came together:

First, I started with a basket that I had laying around from a left over Christmas care package.

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I pulled out my trusty craft paints.

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And I started painting, working my way from the bottom up. I chose a mix of pastels, because it felt very festive.

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Then I took it outside, added some soil and potted up the plants. First the conifers, then filling in with flowers.

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I used the following plants:

Cham pisifera `Plumosa Compressa Aurea’– a good little color spot to offset the flowers.

Cham thyoides `Little Jamie’– I loved the blue-green leaves that worked in with the colors of my basket.

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I also used a variegated pansy and an impatient, but you can use whatever you like, or has great colors for your basket! Of course, I also tucked in a cute little bunny figure I already had in my holiday décor, but he came from Cost Plus World Market if you’re looking for a source. I also added a plastic egg, because we do an egg hunt for the kiddos.

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This was a really quick little project and already looks great on my dining room table. I plan to move it outside after the holiday, but for now it sits here.

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I think I’m most excited to see how this transitions from ‘one-time use’ to something fun for the patio this summer. What are some other ways of incorporating dwarf and miniature conifers into centerpieces?

Saint Patrick’s Day Fairy Gardens

It is nearly time to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day! Whether you’re a lover of the color green or the Green Isle itself, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Most of all, it is a great time to plant and enjoy a Fairy Garden!

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I pulled together a little history for you:

The Leprechaun – The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.

Long since medieval times, mystical fairies have flitted across gardens worldwide. Fairies are magical miniature creatures of good will that bring luck, prosperity, and good health to the chosen few whose garden they inhabit.

Fairy gardeners can surely expect to awaken to mysterious disarray in their gardens after a night of mischievous fairy dancing. Fairies are also symbols of good luck and prosperity. Fairies are often said to dwell in fragrant herb gardens to ensure that herbs will flourish and protect humans from illness, danger and stress. Herb gardens were essential in ancient times as they were sources of medicine and culinary delights.

What a great inspiration to get started on a Fairy Garden celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day! Here are two appropriately named miniature hinoki to get your creative juices flowing:

Cham obtusa ‘Leprechaun’

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photo: American Conifer Society

Cham obtuse ‘Stoneham’

Cham Obtusa Stoneham

Consider adding some gold dust or glitter to make it extra special and leave something for all the leprechauns to play around in!

Before I sign off, I wanted to point out the cover of March 2014 Better Homes and Gardens, featuring ‘Wilma Goldcrest’. This dwarf cypress is bright yellow with a green tint and perfect for topiaries and patio containers. No wonder they used it on their cover, it is gorgeous!

BHG March 2014 Page 68

Cupressus macr Wilma Goldcrest

Have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrating with Dwarf and Miniature Conifers

We’ve been cooped up in the house for the last few weeks due to some uncharacteristically cold weather. Now that the snow has melted, I can truly enjoy one of my favorite holidays- Valentine’s Day.

Here are some appropriately named dwarf and miniature conifers in celebration of Valentine’s Day:

Here’s hoping that everyone has a special someone today.

Abies lasiocarpa `Alpine Beauty’

Alpine Beauty

Some of you might be gifting things like this:

Abies concolor `Blue Sapphir’

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Cupressus macr. `Fine Gold’

Cupressus MACR Fine Gold

Cham lawsoniana `Treasure’

Treasure

You might be dining at some fine establishments and enjoying some sweet treats.

Cedrus deodara `Creampuff’

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Cham obtusa `Cream Tart’

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I’ll be celebrating with my little girl. Her first Valentine’s Day!

Larix kaempferi `Bambino’

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Above all, hopefully no one has “The Blues”!

Picea pungens `The Blues’

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Since we are having more and more cold weather across the country, see here for my cold weather tips for dwarf and miniature conifers.

I hope everyone is enjoying Valentine’s Day!

Fresh Start- Garden Inspirations and Weathering the Cold Spells

I always look forward to the beginning of a new year. There is something really exciting about a fresh start. I specifically find the month of January to be a great time to look forward and think about all the things I want to accomplish throughout the year. I know the thought of planning out the entire year can seem really daunting, but when it comes to setting goals it is really helpful!

Nothing brings me more joy than spending time outside with my family.  There is something magical about planning, planting and then finally enjoying our outdoor spaces.  Spending long summer days in the garden are my favorites and this year I cannot wait to introduce my daughter to joys of gardening and watching things grow.

There is no better place to collect ideas and dream a little bit than on Pinterest. So, here are some things that are inspiring me for 2014:

Playing ‘dress up’ with my yard. One big trend this year is incorporating everything from decorative throw pillows to decorative insect traps and shabby-chic mason jar humming bird feeders. Who wouldn’t want their yard to have a ‘personal stamp’ on it?

A sweet looking Fairy Garden, in a planter that my Mom and I love:

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Of course, we would have to fill it up with gorgeous and fun dwarf and miniature conifers. This set would be perfect and is a collection especially for Fairy Gardening!

Fairy Gardening Collection of Dwarf and Miniature Conifers

I love the Thuja occ`Amber Glow’ ( a mini arborvitae) and Cham lawsoniana `Ellwood’s Nymph’ (a mini Port Orford cedar)  that come in this box. Can’t wait to get started on this project!

A Fun DIY project for later this season:

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We are looking to work on expanding our deck and this is a beautiful example of planters incorporated into the deck.

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However, in order to get to warmer weather, many of us have to endure severe temperatures and bone-chilling conditions this week. Just a small reminder- don’t forget about your plants!

Here are some cold weather tips for your dwarf and miniature conifers:

–       Dehydration- This is a problem for plants too! They lose moisture and will need a good watering after the cold spell breaks.  Just tread lightly, if you think there may be root damage, don’t over do it. You don’t want  over watering to cause rotting.

–       Root Temperature- If you have dwarf or miniature conifers, consider bringing containers inside into a garage if possible. Light is not necessary, just aim to protect the roots from the cold. In some cases, when you bring plants indoors, you might also need to worry about critters getting into them too. Its amazing what creatures turn up when the weather turns nasty.

–       Wind Damage- Wind is drying and causes dehydration. It will also burn foliage up. If you can’t move things, consider trying to shield them.

What are some of your 2014 inspirations? Any tried and tested cold weather tips? I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying a Happy New Year!

The Season of Giving- Dwarf and Miniature Conifers as Gifts

I look forward to December all year. Before I know it, it is time to trim the tree, bake cookies and decorate. December is also a time for giving thanks and appreciating those around us. I like to show my family and friends how special they are to me each year. But finding just the right gift is sometimes a daunting task.  It turns out; dwarf and miniature conifers make great gifts.

When my Mom asked me to help her find a gift for her sister, we put our heads together and came up with this:

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This includes the Ilex X ‘Rock Garden’ miniature Holly that I talked about last month.  This box also includes Cham thyoides `Top Point’ and Cham obtusa `Gold Fern’.  We dolled it up quickly with our Wine Cork Reindeer, some ribbon and mini ornaments.  I found the mini ornaments in the Dollar spot at Target. Sometimes the perfect adornments can be found in the most surprising places!

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While we were at it, I also let my Mom help me make a box for her. Her box contains Cham obtusa `Jan Verkade’, Cham lawsonia ‘Rimpelaar’ and Cham lawsoniana `Treasure’.

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She sent me these adorable photos of her front porch all decked out for the holiday season. I have to say, I absolutely love it!

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What kinds of things do you do to decorate for the Holiday Season? Do you incorporate your dwarf and miniature conifer gardens in your decorations?

Happy Holidays to you and yours! I hope you are enjoying the season and finding new inspirations for your dwarf and miniature conifers.  When we return in the New Year, we will be taking a look at more ways to get inspired with your gardens.

Miniature Conifers- How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have so much fun planning my gardens and planting dwarf and miniature conifers. I just love picking from the different textures, colors and types. It is so satisfying to see all of my hard work pay off with a beautiful landscape or container.  But sometimes I get lost in the here and now and forget about what things will look like down the road. A big question when I’m working on something new is always “How big will that get?”

So I thought about how to give an accurate account of what things might look like in a few years and I came up with this. The following is a series of photos with real life size comparisons to give you an idea of how big things will become.

I used an Ilex X ‘Rock Garden’ miniature Holly.  This lovely is going to be a part of a gift for my dear Aunt, which I will reveal soon. It will be so sweet with tiny red berries!

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By best guesses, it is about 4 years old and currently the size of a tennis ball.

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In about 10-12 years it will be the size of a basketball.

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Here is a look at how that would fit in a medium to large patio container.

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In addition to considering the size of plants and how they grown, here are a few other tips for planting your dwarf and miniature conifers:

–       Don’t plant on flat ground, mounding them will protect them from animals and provide optimal drainage.

–       Use a ground cover like small decorative rocks. This will keep rain from bouncing dirt up on to the leaves.  When this happens the dirt solidifies between leaves and browns things out, which can kill these tiny treasures.

–       Consider using a dwarf in the background for proportion. Dwarfs will grow faster than the miniatures, filling things out. Also consider using miniatures that grow at different rates to keep the container looking mature, even right after planting!

I hope this helps you keep size and proportion in mind while planting your dwarf and miniature conifers.

Tutorial- Holiday Trimmings for your Miniature and Dwarf Conifer Gardens

There is no way to escape it- the holiday season is upon us.  It seems like everywhere you turn these days there are santas, ornaments and holiday trimmings as far as the eye can see.  I’m always looking for a cute craft to help me embrace the season before the carols overtake the radio and the mood turns from delightful to slightly frenzied.

When I was browsing Pinterest the other day, I found this adorable little craft that I thought would be great for my small patio container. I like to move my patio container from my back porch onto my front porch as soon as I put my wreath up in December. It is fun to find new ways to incorporate my miniature and dwarf conifers into my decorations each year.  I try to put extra effort into my front porch and I always get complements on my decorations.  Last year my Father-in-law found some adorable little holiday critters to adorn my container. This year, I thought I would surprise him with some of these little beauties!

For the tutorial on how to make the reindeer, I followed this blog. Here is the pin where I found it.  Finally, here is how my little reindeer project turned out. It was very easy and it only took me about 10 minutes to make both Reindeer.  Wouldn’t it be so fun to have these guys around a mini railroad set at the holidays? These mini conifers make this adorable.

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For fun, here is a photo of the container from last year.  The mini snowmen and nutcrackers came from Walgreens, of all places. They have a great selection at really reasonable prices.

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For anyone who is interested, here is a list of the plants in my container. Clockwise from top left:

Cryptomeria japonica`Tansu`
Juniperus communis `Compressa`,
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana `Treasure Island`,
Cryptomeria japonica `Tenzan`,
Juniperus horaizontalis `Blue Pygmy`

How are you getting ready for the holidays? Are you using dwarf and miniature conifers in your preparations?

Tutorial: Updated Container Gardening

While browsing my latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens, I came upon an article on “What’s Hot” in Container Gardening. Right now, monochromatic plant combinations are in! Blend foliage in similar hues but mix in shapes, sizes and textures for interest.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, fall and winter can be drab times. Take hold of the last bit of nice weather and use this as the perfect way to update your containers for the season. All you need are some cute little dwarf and miniature conifers in rich hues to keep things cheery and fresh throughout the coming season.

When you are searching for the perfect plants for your update, consider these helpful tips:

Add texture.  Abies koreana `Blauer Eskimo’ is a miniature, blue, globe form of Korean Fir. The spiny texture adds dimension to your garden.  Very hardy, and growing just one inch a year makes it a perfect plant for rock gardens or troughs.

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Do more with a column or spire.  Height adds drama and makes any freshly planted container look more complete. A great choice is Juniperus communis `Compressa’.  This is the best columnar plant for trough or rock gardens. It has silvery-blue foliage on a tight, columnar arrow.

Compressa

Variegated colors. Staying in the same color family, but adding a little variation will complete the look.  Each of these plants has a silver-blue hue to them. Picea glauca `Blue Planet’ is a miniature Alberta Spruce. It might be just a tight little compact ball, but its showstopper leaves have tiny little buds and steel-blue foliage. This plant is a miniature and in three years it will only be the size of a quarter.

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Each example above has a blue hue to it. There are many color choices for dwarf and miniature conifers, head to your local garden center for more information.

One last handy tip: plant in odd numbers for the most visually appealing arrangement. Groups of 3, 5 or 7 will be the most pleasing!  Try 2 textures, 2 variegated colors and a spire for a well-rounded container.

Keep posted here for more tips on how to transition these containers through the holiday season and into spring.