I like to decorate for every season, both inside the house and out. I’m a collector as well as a gardener, and our house is small; so changing things around every few months gives me the opportunity to rotate and highlight different collections. (Besides, it forces me to do some dusting and cleaning!)
Gardening, however, takes priority over cleaning and decorating in the spring because I have to get the seeds started and the whole kitchen garden prepared and planted (and planted and planted) as well as clean up the ornamental beds and keep up with weeding (and weeding and weeding). That makes spring the most likely season to be skipped in my decorating cycle. Usually, I’m doing good if I can just put away my snowman collection after winter and bring out the chickens that grace my kitchen the rest of the time. I’m happy I did more than that this year! And I’m happier still that besides setting out my birds and eggs, I got several things PLANTED for spring decoration.
Growing Wheat Grass
One of my favorite things to do for spring decorating is grow wheat grass for centerpieces. Here you can see a few ways that I’ve used it over the years.
I used to look for wheat grass seeds in garden centers, and they weren’t always easy to find. They were not cheap either! And then I learned that I could buy them in health food stores–any place that sells hard “wheat berries.” This year I bought organic wheat berries from Whole Foods for just $1.49 per pound. That’s much better than paying $3 for just a few ounces!
I planted them 2-1/2 weeks before Easter, and they grew well enough to need trimming a few times. Before planting, I soaked the wheat berries for several hours and prepared the containers. It’s nice if you can find containers with drainage holes that can fit inside your decorative containers. If you plant straight into containers with no drainage holes, you have to be careful about overwatering them so they don’t grow a fuzzy fungus.
I filled the containers with moist pro-mix potting soil and then spread the seeds in single layer–all just touching each other–over the top. I did not cover them with more soil because when the blades of wheat grass start to grow, they push the soil up in tiny clumps. Just a single thick layer of seeds on top of the potting soil gives a nice lush look to these. I kept them covered with plastic wrap (or the lids of the plastic berry boxes that I planted some of them in) until they germinated. Then I removed the plastic covers and placed them in bright light.
As they grew over the next couple weeks, I used scissors a couple times to trim them to about 3 inches. But then tragedy struck! Remember how I said that spring is a very work intensive time for me? Well, I let too much time go by without checking and watering the grass, which was up on the highest shelf under my grow lights. Ugh, I found them dried up just a few days before Easter!
The grass in the blue and white square pedestal container, which had no drainage holes, seemed to be a little greener than the others. I watered it and put it back under the grow lights. It was resurrected enough by Easter to use.
By the way, that yellow eggcup with an eggshell of succulents is something I bought a couple years ago at the Gardeners Flea Market. I just replanted it for this year.
Succulents to the Rescue!
Fortunately, I had a back up plan. I had seen baskets planted with succulent arrangements at Lowe’s, and I’d already decided to make my own with the ceramic basket that was currently holding dried moss and painted eggshells. (I’ve grown wheat grass in it in past years, but this year I was using it as a centerpiece on the dining table before the wheat grass was grown.) I’ve been collecting and propagating succulents in the hopes of using them in future miniature garden projects. After the wheat grass containers dried up, I found another container and made two succulent planters, one for the dining room table and one for the kitchen table. I hosted Easter dinner for our extended family, so I set both tables.
A Fresh New Look for Outdoor Containers
There was a time when I thought summer was the only season for outdoor containers. It’s hard to think about planting containers for spring when I’m already working on preparing plants for my many summer containers. Plus, I don’t want to spend much money on plants that won’t last long. And I didn’t!
All I bought was an $8 basket of yellow pansies. I planted them in the big container by our front yard bench. I was tempted to fill the middle with more plants–something tall and bright pink, like tulips. Instead I put one of my metal obelisk plant supports in the middle.
Later I added a candle lantern inside it. Made for outdoor use, it is battery-operated and has an automatic timer function. And best of all, it was only $8! Thank you, Aldi’s! I set it on top of a paving stone, not directly on the soil. I like the welcome its flickering light gives to evening visitors at Chez Rea, don’t you?
As for the deck containers, I cleared them of their winter arrangements and put my galvanized metal watering cans in them. I also added the bright metal flower stakes I picked up at the Dollar Store last year. (These kept my little cutting garden looking pretty until the zinnias grew up.)
I do have one living plant out there in early spring–the rose tree. I set it by the wall at first to keep it a little sheltered. It already has a bunch of buds on it (5/11/17), so I should move it out into its usual spot where it will get more sun.
The “Tree of Enchantment”
Before I began all this spring decorating, I picked up a little weeping pussy willow tree from the floral department at Meijer’s, labeled as the “Tree of Enchantment.” (Shortly afterwards, I saw large ones in the garden center at Lowe’s.) I thought it would make a nice living indoor decoration and that later I could plant it outside. It sat on my kitchen table until Easter, and then I moved it to the buffet table. Now I’m not even sure if it’s still alive, so I don’t know if it’ll make it outdoors after all.
Indoor Garden Clean Up
One of the ways I overwinter things for my container garden is to take cuttings in the fall and keep them in vases by my kitchen window. (After Thanksgiving those vases were slipped inside snowman buckets to fit in with my winter decor.) Not only had the sweet potato vine cuttings got raggedy looking by the end of winter, but they also were plagued by white flies. I pulled off the dry leaves, trimmed the cuttings, and gave them all a good rinse before moving them into little watering can vases on the bottom of my baker’s rack.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on the garden whenever the weather and my schedule has allowed. Planting containers for inside and outside made it seem like I was still gardening while I was decorating for spring. I already have a few summer containers started, and that rose tree is now (5/22/17) in full bloom. It looks like we’ll be frost free through the end of May, so I just started planting tomatoes. There is so much yet to do–and so much yet to tell you about! Stay tuned.
Speaking of staying tuned, I am now on Instagram and Twitter as well as Facebook. (For now you can click on those links to see my posts. When I figure out how to do it, I will add buttons for them to the sidebar, where my Facebook link is now.) I am using “the gardener wife” as my handle on these accounts because that is how my husband has taken to referring to me in his Facebook posts (most of which are public and humorous). It fits my social media persona and I like it, so “the gardener wife” I am.