Tulip Time Appearance

Listen to my “two lips” as I tell you I look forward to speaking at Tulip Time this year! I will be speaking Saturday May 7 at 2 PM….get ready for a real kick in the plants….hope to see you there! Here is the link to buy tickets on the Tulip Time website : http://www.tuliptime.com/events/kick-in-the-plants/

Rick Vuyst

Rick Vuyst

 

Air out your “Green”-ance

Once the holidays are over I’m sure if I had to do it all over again I would over do it. So I’m grateful for a month like January where I can get grounded and renewed for the seasons ahead. Before you know it spring will be here. Winter is a good time to reflect and dream with new ideas for the warmer seasons to come, to think of changes in your personal landscape and environment. Being surrounded by healthy plants both indoors and out is known to improve our daily lives. To thumb through articles and look at pictures of landscapes, flowers and plants is a winter tradition. Maybe consider adding some foliage plants to our indoor rooms. Sprouting new ideas for our surroundings is therapeutic. I read the other day that new ideas are just like babies….messy, confused but full of possibilities! January is a month for what I call “wet cement” ideas….some dreaming for possibilities are formed but not yet written in stone. Maybe some seed catalogs will plant a seed in your imagination. Imagine some change in your surroundings and landscape and dare to dream for this year!
If you are looking to add some living plants to your home and office but don’t have a “green thumb” you may want to consider Tillandisia.

Tillandsia and moss in glass globe

Tillandsia and moss in glass globe

Tillandsias are what some would call “air plants” and what is more readily available than air? This plant is a great way to air out your “Green”-ances. Tillandisias are low maintenance plants that only require some water. Most varieties do fine with a weekly misting or take it in the shower with you.

Tillandsia

Tillandsia

Larger plants should be dunked into water in a sink for 10 or 15 minutes a week. Bright light, but not necessarily direct sunlight is recommended, which will produce some color in the plant. After soaking the plant drain the water out of crevices. Tillandsia will also at times produce a bloom that will flower. They also produce pups or “babies” that create a whole other plant.
When using Tillandsias for terrariums or art projects they cannot be used with potting soil or dirt (they are airplants). You can use sand, rocks, pebbles or bark chips. You can also creatively mount the plants on a wire frame, or glue them with a Tillandsia adhesive on wood such as a favorite piece of driftwood.

Tillandsias make good companions for office, kitchen, bathroom

Tillandsias make good companions for office, kitchen, bathroom

There is a plant for any season and any place, even in the dead of winter. A friend told me recently that plants aren’t that hard, you just have to think like a plant. And they make great friends during the long winter days indoors.

Avant Garden

If Avant-garde is the act of new and unusual or experimental ideas, then the months of winter are “Avant-garden” or “Avant-yard” as we all anxiously dream and await the arrival of spring.

There is always "bloom" for improvement in our landscapes

There is always “bloom” for improvement in our landscapes

After the cold of winter we look forward to getting active outdoors again and getting our hands in the dirt. Home and Garden shows whet our appetite for what is new and interesting for our outdoor living space this year. A season of promise and renewal awaits our foray into the landscape of great potential.
As we dream you may find you can relate to some of the garden trends for 2016. Among these trends are “Dogscaping”. That’s right you’ll be barking up the right tree with this trend because it is estimated 65% of households have some kind of pet! Toxin free spaces for pets to roam and explore are in demand as pet owners invest in their pets.

Dog days of summer

Dog days of summer….Friendly landscapes for your pet is a gardening trend.

The wellness connection and health benefits of a landscape and vegetation is well noted and a continuing trend. Within the trend is a group of people called “Makers”. This group of “entremanures” goes beyond the fresh air and exercise benefits and harvests everything from hops to tomatoes to berries. They are interested in plants that go beyond aesthetic benefits and provide healing benefits.

Preserving and rebuilding healthy soils is a continuing trend with real interest tied into healthy eating. Not only does good soil have anti-depressant qualities, it is understood that soil is the “skin” of the earth. I read someone say that depletion of that “skin” has led to the collapse of civilizations! Well that is dramatic however you can make a difference in your own backyard. A healthy soil produces healthy plants and healthy produce.

Healthy soils, healthy plants and healthy you

Healthy soils, healthy plants and healthy you

Succulent mania continues where even outside the parched landscapes of California, people have cultivated an appreciation for the diverse and interesting collage of succulent plants.

Succulent mania

Succulent mania

Easy to grow and arrange, if you don’t over water them your green thumb will flourish.

Community planting of trees is also a continuing trend. Neighbors not waiting on municipalities to fund or plant trees, but rather taking it on themselves to plant trees in the community.
LED lights, outdoor sound systems, furniture and cooking areas are creating multi sensory opportunities in the landscape beyond what the typical yard has encompassed.
There is also a trend to go back….a trend for nostalgia to invoke pleasant childhood memories. Maybe a plant Grandma had in the garden, Mom’s vegetable garden or summer holiday memories of lounge chairs and grilling. I believe that as a child, if you take a deep breath of an aroma, it is locked in your memory for life. Maybe it was the bouquet of lilac blooms in a glass of water on your Grandma’s kitchen table that take you back.

An aroma from your childhood is locked in your brain's memory for life....like the blooming lilacs in Grandma's garden

An aroma from your childhood is locked in your brain’s memory for life….like the blooming lilacs in Grandma’s garden

Hardy gardens are a definite trend, especially in areas of the country where water is scarce. Also known as “legacy” gardens the plant material is intended not just for our benefit, but also for future generations. Small space or container gardens continue as a trend for both aesthetic as well as edible plants. Small space gardens can brighten our little corner of the world and yet are easy to control or maintain within our busy lifestyles.
Dare to dream during the winter months and plan for something simply “Avant-garden” this year.

The Gift that keeps giving

The Gift that keeps Giving
Indoor plants today provide style to the home. Indoor plants provide a transition from nature to our domestic living space. Indoor plant arrangements in diverse and creative containers have gained popularity. As opposed to being innocent living defenseless and sympathetic individuals stuck in a corner, today’s indoor foliage breathes life into a home. Indoor plants help clean the air, provide oxygen and brighten our spirits. This can be done in a stylish way. It wasn’t always that way.

Foliage plants like these Sanseveria (pictured) are a welcome and healthy addition to any home!

Foliage plants like these Sanseveria (pictured) are a welcome and healthy addition to any home!

Years ago indoor gardening meant a Ficus, Dieffenbachia or Dracaena plant stuck in a corner losing half its leaves in winter. A token Fern basket would hang deprived of the humidity it needed because of dry furnace air and then maybe a Christmas cactus and an African violet on the windowsill. Today Orchids, Tillandsia, Succulents, Herbs, Fiddle leaf Fig, Sanseveria, Palms and more to name a few have become main stays of the stylish indoor garden.
If you are prone to an eclectic mix of plants I have a suggestion. Most people tend in this direction because most plants are purchased without a plan. Inspiration and impulse influence our plant purchases. That’s OK because a mix of textures and sizes in plants gives depth to your décor. I would pay attention and make investment in the containers, the “homes” for your houseplant friends. A good quality container has enough space for roots to grow and allows for drainage. A good quality container also adds to the style of your interior plant arrangement. With a variety of colors, textures and forms to your plants you can unify your living space by coordinating the containers. Even though the plants are varied, a consistent style and color of container in various sizes can unify or pull the whole décor together. As a matter of fact, I recommend for the interior what I recommend for our outside landscape. Monocultures are not a good idea. When a problem develops it spreads like fire in a monoculture. Diversity is a good thing. Celebrate it with your plants and visually tie them together with a consistent planter theme.
Finally don’t forget about Poinsettias to add color to our indoor plants in December. Today’s varieties of Poinsettia are colorful with long lasting bracts. They like other houseplants don’t like cold drafts. Don’t place them near heat registers, room temperature will do just fine for them. Don’t overwater them (too much water is the number one killer of houseplants) and make sure to provide drainage if they are foil or deco wrapped in a fancy pot cover.

Proper care for Poinsettias...don't over water and avoid cold drafts

Proper care for Poinsettias…don’t over water and avoid cold drafts

Indoor plants are our friends and help bring an interior space to life. They truly are the gift that keeps giving.

Peas on Earth

“Peas” on Earth
I have a holiday and Christmas wish for Michigan this year. An El Nino’ winter because my opinion is we deserve it after the last two winters we’ve all endured. I remember past El Nino’ November months in West Michigan. Wearing short sleeve shirts as we put the garden to bed for winter and stringing lots of Christmas lights outdoors to celebrate the holidays ahead. We would unload Christmas trees, in by November standards, warm temperatures. These were the years that due to a lack of ice and snow people would be inclined to string a lot of Christmas lights on the home and in the landscape. The final leaves of fall are raked in November and tilled into the garden. Anticipation of the upcoming holidays builds as we begin to decorate indoors and out. I am not a meteorologist, but when scientists predict an El Nino’ winter due to warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures it gets my attention.

After two very cold winters could the winter of 2015/2016 be an El Nino winter in the Midwest?

After two very cold winters could the winter of 2015/2016 be an El Nino winter in the Midwest?

Warmer November temperatures allow us to “hoe hoe hoe” extending the gardening season in West Michigan and get the ladders and extension cords out to string some “electric ivy”. I call it “peas” on earth and good “till’ towards men and women to enjoy the great outdoors in November.
November is a great month to take cuttings from the natural landscape to add to fresh greens for Porch Pots. These entry door containers are an inviting welcome to holiday visitors. Pruned Rose Hips from the rose bushes, lengths of Russian Sage, Red Twig Dogwood branches or Birch Branches as examples are great compliments to fresh evergreen boughs in containers for entryways. Now that the flowers are frozen but the soil is still workable, arrange the branches in these containers and they will look great through the holidays into February.

Porch Pots provide a great natural welcome to guests arriving at your home

Porch Pots provide a great natural welcome to guests arriving at your home

Forcing bulbs for indoor color is another way to brighten the home. Paperwhite narcissus and Amaryllis are easy to grow bulbs to flower indoors otherwise known as “forcing”. You can also still purchase Tulips and Daffodils or Hyacinths to plant outdoors or “force” indoors into bloom.

Bulbs for forcing indoors are wonderful little orbs of potential

Bulbs for forcing indoors are wonderful little orbs of potential

 

 

 

Finally don’t forget that indoor foliage plants are our friends as we spend more time indoors in the winter months. They can improve indoor air quality and keep us connected to nature as the winter months arrive. Try to give your foliage plants a brightly lit window and rotate them from time to time. Remember not to kill them with kindness as the shorter days and less light of winter causes them to require far less water than the summer months.

Foliage plants like these Sanseveria (pictured) are a welcome and healthy addition to any home!

Foliage plants like these Sanseveria (pictured) are a welcome and healthy addition to any home!