Heaven let your light shine down

Had a friend compliment me as a modern day “Ansel Adams.” I don’t deserve that high praise however if it means my love for nature, writing and photography is appreciated I’ll accept that. Here are some Pere Marquette Lake Michigan shoreline photographs I took on Christmas morning 2017.

Heaven let your light shine down





Reflections on a morning walk
Nature’s Christmas icicle ornaments






Turning water into ice

Holiday Hanging Baskets

Why should the seasons of spring and summer get all the fun when it comes to hanging baskets? A holiday basket can be made incorporating materials from the landscape along with some ornamentation to make a hanging display for porch or patio. The arrangements are a unique and festive welcome to guests who arrive and an enjoyable everyday sight for you. View from indoors looking through the window as it hangs in an entryway or on a deck.

Holiday Hanging Baskets

These holiday baskets use natural materials featuring aromatic boughs of evergreen. The gift that keeps giving they are inviting and attractive from November through February. As Jack Frost adds his natural touch in the cold months the basket will glisten and dazzle. Their appeal and glitter is enhanced by the natural movement of a hanging arrangement versus a static pot or planter.

Position basket in a pot at table level to make arranging easier

Place the basket to be arranged in a pot on a table to make arranging easier.

Light weight potting soil is added to the hanging basket first to provide the foundation for the stems and branches. Once placed outside this is the soil that will freeze and hold the branches and stems in place for months.
Next, as we do with spring planters, work from the center to the outside of the pot thinking “Thriller” in the center, “Filler” as the next layer and then finally “Spiller” as we work to the outside rim of the basket.
Branches for the basket should be cut at a 45 degree angle making them easier to press into the soil until firmly in place.

This basket “pines” for your attention

“Thriller”: Branches of Birch, Scotch Pine, Willow, Red or Gold Twig Dogwood are examples of “thriller” centerpiece visual vertical placements in the center of the basket. These are the first additions to the basket working them into the center of the arrangement.

“Filler”: Working towards the outside of the basket we now fill with evergreen branches. Fraser Fir, Scotch or Austrian Pine, Douglas Fir, Colorado or White Spruce branches make great filler branches making up the bulk of the basket. These aromatic evergreens provide the gravitas for the visual mass of the holiday arrangement.

The addition of some LED lights gives the basket glitter

“Spiller”: White Pine with its long needles and nostalgic look provide a perfect addition as their pendulating look will crook or spill over the side increasing the size of the basket well beyond its borders. Adding some Cedar or Juniper provides visual interest whether used to augment the filler portion of the basket or as a spiller.

This basket will “spruce” up the place!

Finally comes the ornamentation portion of the project giving the basket your personal touch. Pine cones or Berry stems provide a natural means of ornamentation. Unbreakable plastic color ball ornaments can be wired to the branches using multi-color or a themed single color. Florist wire available in many bright colors is easy to work with and can weave throughout your arrangement adding additional interest. The addition of LED lighting in the basket will make it glitter in the nighttime hours, especially when nature adds the frosty touch.

Check it out…as easy as One, Two, “Tree”

LED lights are available in miniature so they subtly add to the feel of the basket without sticking out. You can avoid outlets or extension cords by purchasing some battery operated sets to nestle between the branches or your basket.
Deck the halls with some Holiday Hanging Baskets this season. “Season’s Greenings” and Happy Holidays with a little help from Mother Nature.

October how I love thee…let me count the ways

How often do I hear people say “I just love the fall season.” There is so much to love about October in the garden. From pumpkins and gourds to fall foliage color and crisp refreshing air we fall in love with time outdoors. Aside from being a beautiful time of the year, it is also the perfect time of the year to rejuvenate or establish your landscape. Let me count the ways oh October how I love you. In the words of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…..10 to be exact why October is a kick in the plants out in the garden.

Fall is for lawn and landscape maintenance and improvements!

1) Plants put in the ground in October focus on establishment; the soil is warm for roots while the air temperature cools reducing stress. Don’t pack away the garden hose. Dependent on weather conditions a supplemental deep watering for landscape plants and trees may be needed to avoid having plants enter the winter season under stress.
2) Bulbs! Plant Tulips, Daffodils, Alliums, Hyacinths, Crocus and more now for spring color.
3) Mum’s the word. Chrysanthemums provide vibrant color and come back year after year. Give Asters a try too; today’s new varieties are reliable bloomers!
4) Weed control is effective in fall. Weeds just like the trees are moving food reserves into their root systems for winter so herbicide sprays are more effective when applied in fall. Weed control will also knock out winter annual weeds now so they don’t appear in spring.
5) Fall annuals like Pansies or Ornamental Kale are frost tolerant and provide color well into November.

Enjoy some pansies for color during the fall months!

6) Lawns like plants focus on root establishment in fall because of the warm soil and cool air temperatures. Feed your lawn and overseed and it will reward you next spring with thick lush healthy growth. Consider core aeration in fall especially if your soil is clay-like in nature.
7) Shrubs and Trees establish well in fall, again the roots will establish in the soil without energy put into top growth. Fall planted landscape plants establish quicker the following year than spring planted material.
8) Exercise your green thumb as in dollar savings! Deals are generally available in fall to save you money.
9) Money grows on trees. Leaves have natural nutrients and organic structure to improve the tilth of your soil….and they’re free!

Money does grow on trees! Use falling foliage to improve your garden!

10) Maintain your “composture”. Start a compost pile for your garden next year, no time like the present and October is a great time to start!