Tag Archives: Planters

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.

Planting for Butterflies

This spring, a large amount of our kids’ time has been spent trying to catch backyard wildlife to bring inside as “pets”.  Currently in my backyard I have four “traps”.  We hung a bird feeder, which is currently populated by sparrows.  I’m not sure how long it takes for word to travel amongst the sparrow population, but eventually they may figure out that each time they land for a snack, two eager preschoolers come running out the door to try to grab them.  I have an ant trap on the patio.  Not an ant-trap filled with poison, but rather a welcoming home for them made from a sandwich container, and filled with rocks.  A similar ladybug home sits nearby, but filled with dust from last year’s sidewalk chalk remnants (because of course that’s appealing to ladybugs!).  There is a worm farm on the deck (from April’s Young Gardeners’ workshop).  There are old carrots lying around, which I am under strict instructions are for the bunny, who we will (apparently) catch and bring inside.  However, all the efforts to attract wildlife to the yard are not just the kids’.  I also have made a contribution, in the form of a butterfly planter. I’m not about to advocate feeding the neighbourhood bunnies with your leftover veggies, but making an area of your garden attractive to butterflies is much less damaging to the other plants in your yard.

butterfly with caterpillar

Butterfly planters or gardens need to be in full sun, and may contain a variety of trees/shrubs, annuals and perennials.  The plants can reflect the needs of either the caterpillars, or butterflies or both!

Plants that caterpillars love: blueberries, cabbage, cherries, dill, hops, grasses & sedges, milkweed, parsley, pussy-toes, sunflowers, violets, wild mustard, and wild plums

Plants that butterflies love:

Annuals: ageratum, alyssum, butterfly weed, cosmos, dianthus, geranium, heliotrope, impatiens, lobelia, marigold, milkweed, nasturtiums, petunia, salvia, verbena, zinnia

Perennials:  asclepias (butterfly weed) asters, black eyed susan, coneflower, daylily, gaillardia, goldenrod, lavender, monarda, sunflower, wild bergamot

Trees & Shrubs:  chokecherry, crabapple, lilac, honeysuckle

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When attracting butterflies to your yard, you can also include some homemade butterfly nectar, and food.  Butterflies love rotting fruit, especially bananas.  If leaving fruit out, remember to replace it once it dries out, or becomes mouldy.

Homemade Butterfly Nectar:

Mix 10 parts water with 1 part sugar, boil for 2 minutes.
Let cool and place in a shallow container (like a plant saucer).
Add a paper towel, saturated in the mixture, or a bright orange/yellow scrub pad.  The bright colour will help attract them, and provide a place for them to rest on.
The saucer can be placed amongst flowers, or on a post, or table nearby.
Extra solution can be stored in the fridge, and used to replenish the saucer as needed.

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Once you’ve made your planter, sit back and watch carefully and patiently for the butterflies to arrive. And if you are so inclined, feed the bunnies, trap the ants and ladybugs while you’re at it!

What to Plant in Sunny Planters

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Last week, I outlined some basic ideas for containers in shady spots.  The same principle of “thriller, spiller, and filler” applies for sunny containers too.

Sun Plants:

Thriller: Plants that add height and a bit of unique appeal.

Dracena (spikes), Ornamental Grass, Canna Lilies, Banana, Gaura, Cleome, Geraniums,                   Kanga Paw

Filler: Mounding plants that won’t reach the height of your thriller, but will fill in around and in front of the thriller.

Geraniums, Angelonia, Annual Daisies, Alternanthera (red threads), Potunias

Spiller: Adds interest and flows out of the pot. Can be either flowers or foliage.

Lobelia, Bacopa, Wave petunias, Million Bells, Silver Falls/Emerald Falls, Creeping Jenny

 

The thriller is usually placed in the middle (if seen from all sides) or towards the back (if front/side views only). Then moving outwards/forwards add the fillers. Then finally along the outside edges add your spillers.

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12″ pot= 5 plants

14″ pot= 7 plants

16″ pot= 9 plants

 

Remember, when you first plant your containers they will look sparse. They will fill in as the plants mature. Try not to over stuff them as it can result in over-crowded and unhealthy plants.

 

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Bacopa

bacopa

Bacopa is a long-time favourite plant to fill the role of “spiller” in container planting.   Its bountiful white flowers are eye-catching and dainty

Scientific Name: Bacopa Sutera cordata

Plant: Sun/Part sun

Grows: 4-8″ (10-20cm) tall and trails up to 36” (90cm)

Bacopa is a low-maintenance plant, requiring no deadheading to remain in bloom all summer long.  It does like to be evenly moist, and long periods without water can cause it to drop blooms and buds.  Luckily, after a few weeks of regular watering, it will recover nicely!

 

What to Plant in Shady Planters

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I love planning out our containers to plant each year; trying out new combinations of plants, and configurations makes the yard seem new and unique each year.  I certainly have some standby’s that I use each year, but trying something new is always fun! If you’re new to gardening or have been planting for years, I think it is always nice to have a fresh perspective to add ideas.  I’ve gathered a few ideas here for some shade planters to help inspire you as we wait for spring to arrive, and more importantly, stay!

The general rule for planters is to include a “thriller, spiller and filler”.

Shade Plants:

Thriller: Plants that add height and a bit of unique appeal.

Dracena, Ornamental Grass, Palms, Gartenmeister Fuschia, Elephant Ears, Coleus

Filler: Mounding plants that won’t reach the height of your thriller, but will fill in around and in front of the thriller.

Begonias, Impatiens, Fuschia, Coleus, Ferns,

Spiller: Adds interest and flows out of the pot. Can be either flowers or foliage.

Ivy/Vinca Vine, Torenia, Nico, Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Silver Falls, Lysmachia

 

The thriller is usually placed in the middle (if seen from all sides) or towards the back (if front/side views only). Then moving outwards/forwards add the fillers. Then finally along the outside edges add your spillers.

 

pot_placement

12″ pot= 5 plants

14″ pot= 7 plants

16″ pot= 9 plants

 

Remember, when you first plant your containers they will look sparse. They will fill in as the plants mature. Try not to over stuff them as it can result in over-crowded and unhealthy plants.

 

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Alternanthera Red Threads  

alternanthera

Red Threads is a new variety to Lacoste; we carried it last year and it sold out very quickly.  It’s a great choice for container planting as a “filler”.

Scientific Name: Alternanthera ficoidea

Plant: In sun, 16’ (41cm) apart

Grows: 10 - 12″ (25 - 30cm) tall by 16 - 18″ (41 - 46cm) wide

Red Threads grows in a tightly mounded shape, and thrives in hot sunny conditions.

 

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Digiplexus

digiplexis

A new plant this year at Lacoste! Digiplexus has long lasting tubular flowers in a stunning shade of rosy orange that last all summer long! This is a very large plant that looks exceptional both as a centrepiece in a container, or in the garden as a mass planting.

Scientific Name: Digiplexus Illumination flame

Plant: in Sun

Grows: 36″ (91cm) tall by 18″ (46m) wide

Grows best in full sun but tolerates partial shade locations as well.

‘Illumination Flame’ has proven to be a bee and hummingbird magnet and is otherwise care-free.

Should be are watered and fertilized regularly; ‘Illumination Flame’ can be a thirsty plant during hot and sunny weather.

Spring Kick-off

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This morning as I walked out my front door, past my sad empty planters, and into the bright morning sunshine, I made a decision.  This is the year I’m going to gamble.  I’m going to plant at least a planter or two this weekend.  The last year we had a warm April, I debated planting early and did not, out of fear of frost.  My neighbour did plant early and his tomatoes were safe.

I’m not going to plant in the ground just yet, but planters can be easily moved inside if necessary, and maybe just maybe they won’t need to be!  There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to when to plant and when its safe; there are so many “rules”:  . . . May Long weekend, or the first moon in June, after the last frost.  However, there is no “garden police” that will come and tell me that I’ve planted incorrectly, so I’m going to try it!

The added benefit of planting early will be that all the beautiful, new, unique plants will still be plentiful. Come by this weekend to check them out, and while you’re here, grab a hotdog and make a donation as a part of our annual charity kick-off BBQ!  In addition to the BBQ, as always there will be great kids activities, and tons of beautiful inspiration to see!

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!

 

Fall Garden Clean-up Checklist

We can certainly all remember the joy of jumping into a pile of freshly raked up leaves, and perhaps we can also remember the frustration of having to rake up that pile again and again and again.  However there is more to fall clean-up than simply raking.  A bit of searching around online, I’ve compiled this list which will hopefully assist in your end-of season tasks!

Not included in the list is of course, the fact that you should be rewarded at the end of all the work with a bonfire with friends, while drinking some warm apple cider (or Pumpkin Spice Latte, if that’s your style ;))

Bulbs

*Fall is the time to plant many favourite spring flowers.  Crocuses, tulips, allium and daffodils are all planted in the fall.

*Dig up tender bulbs (Canna Lilies, Calla Lilies)

Trees

*Rake leaves

*Rabbits love to chew the bark off of newly planted trees, but damage is easily prevented by wrapping the trunks.

*Springtime damage from cankerworms is also easily prevented by banding with Tanglefoot

Perennials

* Fall is a great time to both divide and plant new perennials.

* As perennials finish, trim off the dead foliage. You can compost the healthy trimmings to continue the cycle of nature.  Alternatively, some perennials, if left alone, look great as winter interest and can provide winter food for wildlife. Leaving the perennials can also ensure greater snow cover, which can help protect tender perennials against winter kill.

*covering any marginal (tender) perennials with mulch will also protect these plants from exposure to the elements

* Clean away any and all diseased plants and dropped leaves.

Vegetables

* Vegetable gardens are best completely cleared up to prevent any disease or pest overwintering.

Tropical Plants

* Tropical plants should be brought inside before the first frost

Miscellaneous

* Tools should be cleaned and sharpened so they are ready for action in the spring

* Containers should be emptied, at least partially and covered to prevent cracking

* Even the best quality cushions on lawn furniture need to be dried and stored inside