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November 2011
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January 2012

December 2011

Terrariums

IMG_5784Gardening under glass has a mystique all its own. Intriguing micro-climates of miniature glass gardens never fail to elicit a comment or a second glance. Some terrariums can stop you in your tracks as fast as any brightly colored jewel or objet d'art to which you are drawn. Every one of us has his or her own personal passion and for gardeners, terrariums are a treat to the senses. In the midst of a New England winter, a terrarium glows on a windowsill or table with serene green growth so very absent in the outside landscape. A terrarium is, typically, an enclosed glass container for growing plants. Not all plants are suited to the rain forest atmosphere of a terrarium but many will thrive in an uncovered container where the humidity levels are more moderate. DSC_0016I made four for Christmas gifts this year. They were fun to make and the biggest problem is finding plants which are small enough for available containers. I started with three glass containers and one small cake stand.  Two had no covers and two had lids. While all of the glass containers have moss, two hold only moss and moss benefits from a bit of air circulation so a container without a cover can be a good choice for a moss garden. The cake stand was planted with all moss and instructions were provided to remove the lid occasionally. This container was shallow and really should be thought of as a temporary dish garden.  You can read more about moss gardens here. DSC_0018I cleaned the containers and added colored glass to the bottom area where water can collect. Next I added activated charcoal which serves to filter the water and help prevent fungal diseases which can occur in overly moist containers. DSC_0019I then added a good quality potting soil which is usually a soilless mix. This one was bagged by a reputable nursery and contains perlite, peat and perhaps vermiculite. It matched the soil of the plants I added. One aralia and one wide leaf fern were added to different containers. Moss was used for a ground cover and stone, pieces of moss covered wood and lichens were added for more interest. DSC_0028Nature in a bottle. The cake stand was offered at a Holiday Yankee Swap and it traveled the room until the last person to play ended up with it. Choosing a gift which moves about the group is always desirable and while this was a group of gardeners, one of the husbands was overheard to say 'Who would want that?' That made me laugh. Not everyone sees things with the same level of desire. DSC_0024If you have a bit of time on your hands, a glass container and the desire to create a living ecosystem, try making a terrarium. They can thrive in our homes which have low humidity in the winter and they can allow you to expand your palette of plants.  I did receive a new book for Christmas,  IMG_5957'The New Terrarium' by Tovah Martin.  I always enjoy reading anything by Tovah Martin. The author of several books, she is well known for her horticultural knowledge and she writes in an easy, informative and engaging style. This book contains wonderful pictures in addition to instructions for making a terrarium. It also informs the reader as to which plants will thrive in the humid atmosphere of an enclosed terrarium along with those that benefit from a bit more air circulation. My next attempt at terrarium making will be that much more informed after I digest the contents of this book from one of my favorite gardeners.  Have you made a terrarium lately? 


Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - December 15, 2011

DSC_0007It is not often that one finds flowers in New England on December 15th. This year, there are two here in the garden. The above calendula which is tattered but still holds color and this Helleborus foetidus. DSC_0004
This hellebore holds its lime green flower buds through the winter to open just around St. Patrick's Day. You have seen it before and you will see it again but I never tire of it. The deer do not eat it and the foliage is fabulous all year long. I am looking forward to seeing your December 15th blooms. Hop on over to May Dreams and thank Carol for another Bloom Day. They sustain my need for color at this time of year.


Rockspray

CotoneasterA ray of morning sun hit the rockspray cotoneaster causing me to pause, grab the camera and head outside. It is a challenge to find interesting bits and pieces in a garden which has gone to sleep.  We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year. Helleborus foetidusThere is a bit of fresh green on the hellebores and the buff of the grasses add interest to the minimalism of the garden. Buff grassesMost of the year the rockspray cotoneaster, Cotoneaster horizontalis, is overlooked in favor of the flowering shrubs and perennials but this shrub has backbone. Frost on cotoneasterThe branching structure does look very similar to a boned fish. Rockspray cotoneaster has very small flowers which do attract bees (Note to self: make sure to get a picture of the flowers next year) but the subsequent berries which are quite prominent now, are red and borne in abundance. Cotoneaster horizontalisI did witness birds taking cover in the tight branching of this low growing, compact shrub. This is a very hardy shrub, hardy to Zone 4. It is said to be prone to insect infestations but I have not had an issue with it probably due to its open location in the rock border. Most of the year this plant goes unnoticed. This time of year, it is much appreciated.