Category Archives: Christmas

Making Winter Planters

Planter Christmas planter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that there’s snow on the ground, and the pumpkins and fall mums are all put away, my front step is looking awfully barren and boring.  Luckily for me, I have the great opportunity at Lacoste to have our designers make up a winter planter for me to bring home and pop onto the step!  Luckily for you, you can too! We offer both custom and pre-made winter planters that will add colour and flair to your outdoor Christmas decorating.

However, I know that many of you are fantastic diy-ers, and can create your own fantastic arrangements.  If you’ve never tried before, here are some tips from our expert container designers!

The Container

First, consider the planter that you’d like to use.  I typically re-use the same containers that I plant with in the spring.  Re-using is great, because it means that it already has weight in the bottom, AND I don’t have to move anything around!  Just make sure that you empty out the top bit of soil from the planter when you remove your plants, to make room for your greens, and to make sure that the planter doesn’t crack as the soil freezes.

The Greenery

Evergreen branches and boughs typically provide the main structure of a winter planter. Cedar boughs offer soft draping texture, and spruce and pine will create a sense of structure or height.  The different tones of each of these boughs will give texture and depth to your arrangement.  In our arrangements, we try to use a little of each!

In addition to the greenery of coniferous boughs we often add in twigs and large branches to create height in tall containers.  Birch trunks are a local favourite, but red and yellow dogwood, and twisty willow are some other great choices.  Including both in your planter can balance a tall design.

The Bling

My favourite part of every winter planter is the bling and accessories.  This is where you get a chance to express your style and personality! By using similar elements from your interior décor, you can create a sense of cohesion from outside to inside. The options are as endless as there is variety in Christmas décor.  Seed pods, berries and pinecones will enhance the feel of an outdoor Christmas, but it doesn’t need to stop there.  Sparkly twigs, artificial flowers, shiny ornaments, and lights and lanterns all add colour and style too!

The Design

The biggest consideration in creating the arrangement is proportion.  A balanced arrangement is generally two-thirds the size of the container, and widest at the bottom

Begin by outlining the container with evergreens draping over the edge of the container.  Once the outline is complete, fill in the rest of the shape, working in groups of three, five and seven.  Using a variety of lengths and types of evergreens, and branches, fill the container as much as possible

Once your arrangement is well formed, add the embellishments.

 

 

winter planter how to

Creating your own design is easy and it adds a personal touch to your decor. With very little effort you can have a gorgeous container to beautify your garden until spring arrives.

Christmas Open House

When do officially start you start your Christmas season? In my daughter’s Clifford Christmas book, Emily Elizabeth declares that Christmas starts at the Thanksgiving parade, when Santa comes to town.  My American relatives agree.  Growing up, we wouldn’t listen to Christmas music prior to Remembrance day, but decorations didn’t even begin to emerge until December 1st.  According to the church calendar, there are four Sundays of Advent, prior to Christmas Day.

If you’ve been to Lacoste lately, you’ll have noticed that we have officailly started our Christmas season.  Our wreath/swag making workshops have been filled, with the exception of a few remaining spots,  and our “Jingle and Mingle” family and friends night has passed.  However, coming up this Saturday is one of my favourite Lacoste events of the year.  The annual Open House has evolved from a small kids craft and some food samples, to a much fuller event.  We still have a kids craft, but now there is also face painting, and snacks.  There is, of course food samples, along with hot chocolate and hot apple cider.  There is a petting zoo with sheep, and chickens and usually a goat that comes to visit.  However, most importantly, Santa and Mrs Claus come to visit and read stories with the kids. It really is a great day to come with the family, choose a tree, maybe roast a marshmallow or two, and get into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Open House2015

Times to note:

We are open all weekend:

Saturday 9-8, Sunday 9-6

Santa and Mrs. Claus visit:

Saturday, Dec 5:  10-3; Sunday Dec. 6: 11-3; Sunday, Dec 13: 11-3

Petting Zoo:

Saturday, Dec 5: 11-2

Kids Crafts & Activities:

Saturday, Dec. 5: 10-3

Here are a few pictures from last year:163 171 177

 

What to Serve at a Christmas Party

veggies

For the past several years, we have hosted at least one Christmas gathering at our house, sometimes it’s a family gathering, sometimes friends, and often a work gathering as well.  Our friends-gathering started out as a retro-chic fondue party, but after a spilled pot of fondue oil, we’ve moved on to more casual gatherings for that particular group of people! The work-gathering occurs in conjunction with our Christmas party, so it is typically a little more formal.  The family gathering is somewhere in between, no fancy dress clothes, but typically a lower risk of spills (at least until all the babies are more mobile!) Each of these parties has its unique set of preparations that are required, however no matter what type of party you are hosting, making a plan in advance is a preparation that is essential everytime!

In October’s issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, Belle Cushing outlines 15 ideas for how to ensure a holiday dinner party sets off on a fun note.  As I was reading through the article, some of the tips seemed pretty straightforward, things like “make sure you have enough ice” and “good tunes are essential ”.  However, I was surprised that in a magazine that often seems to be on the far edge of new food trends, three of the suggested appetizers were Cheese Balls, Crudites (a.k.a. in my house as “Veggies and Dip”), and Shrimp Cocktail.  I had mentioned in a previous blog that the 70’s era houseplants are re-emerging as popular favourites.  I’m glad to see that the familiar appetizers from every single family gathering of my childhood are still popular favourites!

Of course, being a food/recipe/style magazine, the author had great suggestions of recipes to try for each of these appetizers.  However, realistically speaking if I’m hosting a dinner party and have determined a menu to cook, and cleaned up the house, it is very likely that I’m going to look for a bit of a shortcut where I can.  Luckily for me (and you too!) it is very easy, and just as tasty to pick up a Gourmet du Village dip mix, Cheese ball kit, and all sorts of sauces and preserves at Lacoste.  And because you mix them up yourself, you can embellish them and make them a part of your own secret recipe!

http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/parties/article/dinner-party-starters

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

For some members of our family decorating the Christmas tree opens up a whole argument dialogue about personal style.  Some prefer a mish-mash of decorations old and new, home-made and store bought, lights multi-coloured and blinking.  Others prefer a much more designer looking tree with matched ornaments, lights, ribbons, and wrapping paper. I would never ever dare to tell anyone which is the correct way to decorate a tree.  In my mind, both decorating strategies have their merits, I love looking at all the old memorable ornaments on my parents tree from before I was born, but also love the coordinated look of a themed tree.

IMG_5880

Decorating a tree, whether themed or not can be an overwhelming process, that often takes 2 or 3 times as long as I plan for.  To make it a little easier, one of our suppliers of Christmas décor has provided this guide on how to decorate the perfect Christmas tree

HowToDecorateATree

Custom Christmas Planters

When it comes to home decor, especially at Christmas time, sometimes I get an idea in my head of something I’d like, and search and search and search for it, never ever to find exactly what I’m looking for.  Times like these, I pull out my DIY skills, and attempt to make it for myself.  Sometimes this works very well (I love the embroidery hoop frames in my daughter’s room), and sometimes it’s a bit of a disaster (one Halloween I thought I was dressed up as a tomato; kids thought I was Lady Gaga).

I have similar (mis?)fortunes when it comes to my Christmas décor. I’ve attempted to make wreaths and winter planters, but my results are often not quite as elegant as I picture.  Last year, I discovered a secret.  It’s a secret that I should have known about, as I see it happen all the time.  I talk about it to customers and friends.  I post about it here, and on Facebook.  I see the fliers on the doors at the store.  It is all over lacostegardencentre.com.  (Can you see a theme….it is not such a big secret!) At Lacoste we offer workshops for fresh greens! You can attend one of these workshops on your own, with friends, or even book your own private party (schedule can be found here).  At these workshops, you get to design your own planter, or wreath, or swag.  You can choose from all of the accessories we have on hand.  AND best of all, you can draw on the experience and style of the wonderful ladies who make all of our ready-made greens!

Last year, I found a picture of what I wanted for outdoor planters, and brought it with me:

Christmas planter

What I ended up with was wonderful!

PlanterEdit: I wrote this post in advance, and apparently all of you wonderful people have discovered our workshops already!!  I hope your planters are turning out as wonderfully as mine.  If you are feeling rushed, or overwhelmed at the idea of making your own, there are many beautiful  planters to choose from!

 

Christmas Trees: Fir? Balsam? Pine? What are the Differences?

December 012

Our Christmas trees arrived earlier this week, and the greenhouse is becoming its winter-y Christmas-y forest-y self.  Whether you are a veteran live-tree customer, or this is your first time shopping for a “real” tree, here’s a quick summary of the different varieties you can choose from.

The Scotch Pine is the tree that many of us grew up with.  It has prickly needles and strong branches.  It is fantastic for holding heavy lights and decorations. It is not a very fragrant tree so if you that fresh Christmas tree smell is something you need to have, this tree may not be the best choice for you.

The White Pine is most notably, the softest of the Christmas trees, with very long needles.  It holds those needles very well for the length of the Christmas season.  The branches on the White Pine are quite light, and will not be able to support heavy ornaments. The White Pine is perfect for decorating with garland and lights.

The trees of the fir family are the more popular choices for Christmas decorating.  All the fir trees have branching right to the trunk of the tree, giving a much fuller look than the pine trees.

The Noble Fir is a perfect “not perfect” tree, if you prefer a tree with a little more character.  When these trees are grown, they are not sheared heavily, so the branches have more irregularities.  These irregularities are great for providing little nooks to showcase your special ornaments! While not traditional to most Manitobans the Noble Fir is quickly gaining popularity due to its unique and beautiful look

The Balsam Fir is a thicker tree than the Noble, because it is heavily sheared while it is growing.  The shearing process encourages the tree to produce more branches (like pinching a Basil plant). It has fantastic needle retention, a straight trunk and is very fragrant.  For all these reasons, it is our most popular Christmas tree!

The Fraser Fir again has thick branching, is fragrant and has good needle retention.  This tree is unique, though in that the undersides of the needles have a beautiful silver colour! The Fraser Fir is noted for having the best needle retention of all the trees. While similar in look to the Balsam it differs in that the branches are stronger and slightly sparser, leaving plenty of room for ornaments.

The Nordman Fir, like all the rest, is fragrant, thick branching and good needle retention.  What you’ll notice right away about this tree though, is that it is a very dark green.

Once you’ve selected your tree, there is one key point to remember before you bring it into your house; make sure you cut off the bottom ¼ -inch of the trunk. You can simply ask us and we will gladly do it for you before we tie it to your roof.  This will open up the bottom of the trunk to allow it to absorb as much water as it can.  If you provide your tree with adequate water, never letting it become dry, your Christmas tree can easily last up to 4 weeks!

An added tip: if you’d like to refresh the scent of your Christmas tree before a gathering, fill a spray bottle with water, and give the needles a good spray!

Planting Christmas Bulbs

Do you think of houseplants when you think of Christmas décor? At first, it may seem easy to relegate them to background status, behind the traditional boughs, wreaths, and of course, the tree.  But Christmas bulbs are a great way to incorporate some extra colour and life to your Christmas décor.  Amaryllis, Narcissi, and Christmas Cacti are the traditional choices, but recently I’ve noticed a lot of Orchids popping up as centerpieces and table toppers.

Winter Bulbs

Amaryllis and Narcissi (Paperwhites) typically appear with the fall bulb displays.  I usually don’t think of them when I’m picking my tulips and crocuses, but it would seem that I’m not the only one, as there are still plenty to choose from even now!  Both require between 6-8 weeks from the time of planting until they reach their peak bloom. That means now is the best time to plant! Amaryllis and Paperwhites both are easy to start, and only require minimal care; water and sunlight is sufficient!  The only additional tip for growing Amaryllis, is that the stalk will grow towards the light, so it is important to carefully turn the container periodically.

Christmas Cacti are so-called because they typically bloom around Christmas time! Their blooming is dependent on the amount of sunlight they receive, rather than any particular efforts on the part of the gardener.  As long as the plant receives plenty of bright indirect light, and the right amount of water, it should bloom for you.  An important note about Christmas Cacti is that they are tropical cacti, rather than desert cacti, which means that they benefit from regular watering.  Specific timing will depend on the humidity of the house, but we typically water most of our houseplants every 10-14 days. Watering them when the top inch of the soil is dry is a good schedule to maintain.

This year, at our house I’m excited to use my moderate crafty skills and am going to make a table top orchid display, something like this:

Orchid Centrepiece  I’m thinking a few white orchids, with red and white sparkled ornaments.  Luckily there’s plenty of time to work out the details!!

How to Choose a Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
 

It would be so easy to choose a Christmas tree, if all you were concerned with was whether or not it’s branches were a lovely  green! Choosing a tree by that criteria alone would mean all that you’d need to do is walk up to any tree and take it home!

The first step is the simplest; what size you need? Taking a quick measurement of your ceiling height will save you some frustration and a Clarke Griswold moment of discovering your tree is much too large for your space.  After that, the choices are purely aesthetic!  At Lacoste, we have two basic categories of trees: pine and fir.

The Scotch Pine is the tree that many of us grew up with.  It has prickly needles and strong branches.  It is fantastic for holding heavy lights and decorations. It is not a very fragrant tree so if you that fresh Christmas tree smell is something you need to have, this tree may not be the best choice for you.

The White Pine is, most notably, the softest of the Christmas trees, with very long needles.  It holds those needles very well for the length of the Christmas season.  The branches on the White Pine are quite light, and will not be able to support heavy ornaments. The White Pine is perfect for decorating with garland and lights.

The trees of the fir family are the more popular choices for Christmas decorating.  All the fir trees have branching right to the trunk of the tree, giving a much fuller look than the pine trees.

The Grand Fir is the most similar to our native fir trees; it is long needled, and is very densely branched, and fat.  It holds its needles well throughout the season. It has a slightly different scent than the other trees, almost smelling citrus-y!

The Noble Fir is a perfect “not perfect” tree, if you prefer a tree with a little more character.  When these trees are grown, they are not sheared heavily, so the branches have more irregularities.  These irregularities are great for providing little nooks to showcase your special ornaments! While not traditional to most Manitobans the Noble Fir is quickly gaining popularity due to its unique and beautiful look

The Balsam Fir is a thicker tree than the Noble, because it is heavily sheared while it is growing.  The shearing process encourages the tree to produce more branches (like pinching a Basil plant). It has fantastic needle retention, a straight trunk and is very fragrant.  For all these reasons, it is our most popular Christmas tree!

The Fraser Fir again has thick branching, is fragrant and has good needle retention.  This tree is unique, though in that the undersides of the needles have a beautiful silver colour! The Fraser Fir is noted for having the best needle retention of all the trees. While similar in look to the Balsam it differs in that the branches are stronger and slightly sparser, leaving plenty of room for ornaments.

The Nordman Fir, like all the rest, is fragrant, thick branching and good needle retention.  What you’ll notice right away about this tree though, is that it is a very dark green.

Once you’ve selected your tree, there is one key point to remember before you bring it into your house; make sure you cut off the bottom ¼ -inch of the trunk. You can simply ask us and we will gladly do it for you before we tie it to your roof.  This will open up the bottom of the trunk to allow it to absorb as much water as it can.  If you provide your tree with adequate water, never letting it become dry, your Christmas tree can easily last up to 4 weeks!

An added tip: if you’d like to refresh the scent of your Christmas tree before a gathering, fill a spray bottle with water, and give the needles a good spray!

Christmas Preparations

There is a hotly debated topic that appears this time every year. I’m not talking about the husband/wife debate about the “attractiveness” of the “Movember”  ‘stache. How soon do you start preparing for Christmas? I’m usually pretty strict about December 1st being the earliest for decorating around the house, but I’m already starting to get antsy.

Our staff Christmas party is this Saturday (we do it early so that we can be ready to help you get in the spirit!).  In preparation for that, I’ve brought my front door planters in to the greenhouse, ready to be decked out in their winter finery.  I’m hoping that this will help me wait the next 2 weeks before my self-imposed decorating restriction will be lifted J

If you’re looking to begin your decorating outside, but need inspiration, you should definitely come to our friends and family night next Thursday.  Our greens are ready, workshop schedule is posted, and Christmas trees will be hanging.  We have all the accessories you’ll need to create your own wreath/swag/planter.  Or,  if you’re like me, and need to see a finished product, we have tons premade!

 

Poinsettias

Every year, in October, many stores begin setting out their Christmas merchandise.  Every year somebody will comment on how early it seems to be getting ready for Christmas.  This catalogue arrived on our doorstep the other morning:

In the plant world, procrastination is not really an option, and since we grow many of our poinsettias, now is the time to begin the preparation for Christmas.  Right now, even as I write this, Becky is ordering our cuttings.  New to us this year is a variety called “white glitter”, very cool!  She’ll begin planting them up in July, and then in November, they’ll be all set to deck your halls!

So while you’ll be enjoying all your annuals and perennials in the bright summer sun, we’ll be thinking about Christmas, and looking forward to seeing you all again!