It’s Friday and the Holiday season, time to ‘paint the town red!’ Be festive.
There is so much history and symbolism to the immensely popular winter holiday/Christmas wreath I’ve decided to do a tribute to it. For the next 28 days, I will post a photo of a holiday wreath I’ve spotted and found particularly inspiring. Maybe from a symbolic, creative, classic or simply pretty, point of view.
These days holiday wreaths are ubiquitous, hung on front doors as a sign of welcome, used in religious traditions such as the Advent wreath, strung on city lampposts for adornment and somehow attached to Jeep Cherokees (I swear the most popular vehicle to sport one) to show “mobile” holiday spirit. And these are just a few uses that come to mind…
So how did the wreath gain such popularity? Is it just because of Christmas and other winter holidays in December? Of course, not! Here’s a quick bit of history on the emblematic wreath.
The wreath has been an enduring sign with various meanings in many different cultures. In Pre-Christian or Pagan times much importance was placed on the Winter solstice. It was viewed as a time of death and re-birth and the passing of the shortest day of the year called for much celebration. Evergreen wreaths were a part of these celebrations as a sign of ever-increasing light and the promise of Spring.
Likewise, the wreath has a prominent place in the stories of ancient times. In the Persian Empire, wreaths were symbolic of importance and success and worn as headbands. Maybe more familiar…ancient Greeks placed wreaths on the heads of victorious athletes in their Olympic Games. And in Roman times, wreaths were worn similarly to crowns and hung on doorways as a sign of victory.
In modern times, the Christmas wreath has come to convey a number of meanings, the primary one being the circle or ring shape, that has no beginning and no end, is viewed as symbolizing eternity or eternal rebirth. This seems that it could be related to the Pre-Christian cultures’ interpretation of the evergreen wreath representing the end of darkness and over time and history has evolved into a representation of life everlasting.
Most definitely, wreaths have many connotations and uses, but isn’t it interesting to realize this symbol that we casually think of as an acknowledgment of holiday cheer has been sanctioned for eons of time by people gathering in celebration of life and the days to come? Wreaths on front doors, now make me think a bit more about the people behind the doors and the hopeful celebration they will participate in and the excitement they will share together this season.
How about you? Do you hang a wreath or maybe a few in December? Does the wreath have a special meaning in your culture, family or group of friends? Have you ever made a wreath? If so, what was it made from?
An absolutely lovely day in McMinnville, Oregon where my family and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with some extended family. And on this beautiful day it is simple to “see” and feel the bounty of life. Tasting delicious food and drink from the garden just outside the door and the local area, while looking around the table at the loving, substantive, people that I am privileged to share days with and feelings of gratefulness fill the heart and mind. Stepping outside to see a bit of nature’s beauty, I find this oak tree being soothed by the sun and think…I am grounded with gratitude today and just like this oak, have a good, strong life.
Heartfelt thanks to all who have shared a bit of their life via this blog and wishes to always “see” and feel life’s bounty.
Oh my! If every month were like October, Boise would be a gardening mecca. With temps between 60-75° every day, no wind – just the occasional breeze, and a landscape so brilliantly colored that all kinds of people are snapping photos of trees, shrubs, flowers and the like…it would be inevitable.
You see, the loooong warm days and cool nights that turn plant foliage so many shades of autumn (way more than 50) trump dry, hot conditions that were top of most peoples’ minds just a few weeks back. When October rolls around and incredible colors are set against a brilliant, blue sky day-in and day-out regular people (you know, non-garden types) start paying attention to plant life and becoming inspired.
Should we get a new tree? What kind of shrub do you think that is? What else flowers in fall besides mums? There are fall raspberries? Maybe we should plant some lettuce now?
I love hearing these musings and I too am usually caught up in the seasonal celebration planning way too many garden projects. I have to remind myself that not every day will be like the month of October and that time is limited and therefore so must be my project list.
So this October I prioritized a new mediterranean-inspired garden bed in the front of my house.
To start the project, I had to finish moving the heaviest permabark ever. If you don’t know what permabark is - be happy. Here is a photo of it and it is a gardener’s nemesis.
It is heavy and hard to get on a shovel. When you do get it in a wheelbarrow you have to be careful to not fill it (the wheelbarrow) more than half full or the load is so heavy you can’t move it. Aarrgh!
Once the rock was abolished, I pulled up the weed barrier (always comes with permabark, another ill landscaping technique) and finally the soil could breathe. Next, some soil amendments. For my heavy clay soil I used peat moss, my homemade compost and a bit of elemental sulphur.
Generally speaking, the heavy clay soil in the Boise area is at the higher end of the pH scale making for soil conditions that tend towards alkalinity. If the pH gets too high many plants cannot access various micronutrients of the soil, especially iron, which leads to a decline in health and possibly chlorosis. Adding sulphur and peat moss adds organic matter to the soil and breaks up the heavy clay particles while helping to maintain or lower pH levels. I’m careful not to go overboard with the sulphur but mix in 2-3 8 oz cups into to each wheelbarrow as an additional amendment.
Next comes the fun – planting in fresh ”groomed” soil!
There were a few plants already growing in this area such as fothergilla gardenii and reed feather grass (calamagrostis x acutiflora) ‘Overdam’ so they were kept and I added a few more of each.
My plan was to add mostly low water plants that can take really hot sun all day (Zone 6 hardy) and offer interesting textures. For blooms the color palate is primarily blues, purples, reds, oranges and a little yellow. This bed is pretty much three season interest, unless you count the grasses as the entire show for the fourth season – winter. :)
Here are some of my selections. (Starting at top left and moving clockwise.)
I really won’t know how happy I am with the results until things start percolating next Spring. But for now, I am happy to drive up to my home and see a garden in the front instead of a few plants held hostage in a prison of permabark!
And as for the rest of October, well I was outside a lot…closing down the garden…picking the season’s last tomatoes, harvesting fall lettuce, dividing and moving perennials, composting, digging tropicals…you know the drill.
September is always one of the busiest months in the garden and that is one reason why I have been away from my garden speak for so long. Of course, the last hurrahs of summer, the beginning of school and the holiday weekend kept me spinning until about the 10th when I finally took stock of the garden and realized it was time to get the gloves on!
I’ll state up-front that this post is not “filled” with lots of pretty photos of the “September stars of the garden.” A surprise hail storm, stormed (more like slapped, beat, kicked, punched) my garden a couple of weeks ago destroying all of the beautiful growth. Watermelons were knocked off the trellis, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes pelted until they split, perennials deflowered, leaves punctured, ripped and torn. I’m sure you get the idea…
It was a sad couple of days clearing all of the destroyed plant material and fresh produce and grimacing all the while that I didn’t get out and get photos of the late season beauties. The old saying, “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” was ringing throughout my thoughts.
But on to better days and better activities like the daily harvest of Sungold and Juliet tomatoes, and the everbearing raspberries. Here’s to shades of crimson!
By the 15th, I had ignored the ever growing pile of compostables long enough (for about 3 months) so I emptied the raw material bin of my three-bin system and re-constructed the pile properly, mixing browns and greens throughout and making sure everything was damp. Of course all this pitchforking aerated the pile as well, giving it perfect conditions to cook away.
Around the 20th I started to see some prettiness again – from the asters. I have three varieties in my garden but am thinking of getting more if I can find some space.
Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ is vigorous and I love the purpley/blue color of its jillion blooms and the long bloom season. The only thing I don’t care for is its tendancy to fall over even though I cut back the stems twice this year to make them stronger. It is still a beaut of an aster though and I think I’ll try a little less water next year to see if that helps. Has anyone tried aster ‘Wunder Von Stafa’ as an alternative to ‘Monch’? I’ve read this sister plant has stronger stems.
Aster lateriflorus ‘Prince’ is an all-time favorite for me. I love it’s black, black foliage, ability to take full sun and gazillion white and ruby blooms. I haven’t yet found the exact right companion plant for it though, something that can highlight its foliage and bloom. Suggestions are welcome!
Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ offers blackish purple foliage and zillions of white and blush blooms. It is much taller than ‘Prince’ but has a graceful growth habit. It takes quite a lot of room and has been on the “take it out ” list a couple of times but its unique foliage and time of bloom has kept it secured.
Now it’s the 29th and I’m out of the garden visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming and it’s amazing natural beauty. (Attending my daughter’s soccer tourney too.) So clearing, harvesting, composting and enjoying the asters has been the mix of activities in my garden this September.
Dividing perennials, planting garlic, adding new plants and working on a new mediterranean inspired front garden are on the agenda for October.
How about you? What was the mix of activities in your garden this September? Did you enjoy any particularly large harvests or suffer any surprise weather conditions?