Christmas came and went, without the shop being fully dressed for winter. We had an incredibly busy season – that work has to come first. No one knows that better than I. But I have a love and a mission for making sure that our shop delights the eye of any gardener face to face with the winter season. The Branch crew constructed and hung the garland that is draped across the top of the roof boxes and all the way down to the ground on a Saturday in mid December. They added greens to the leading edge of the boxes behind the garland, for an especially lush look on the roof. That was a huge undertaking. It took 5 people just to haul it up an extension ladder to the roof. That was all we had going on for at least another week. The next Saturday all of the window boxes were filled with greens, and the 2 pots out front had twigs and greens. Christmas day afternoon, I constructed and set all of the centerpieces in the window boxes, and added small scale vine garlands to the greens, and pine cones to drape. Yes, Christmas afternoon. Buck was rolling his eyes. New Year’s Eve day, I had help from a sympathetic crew. David found lights for the window boxes elsewhere, as we were out, and installed them.
I wanted something tree like at the front door. Dan and his landscape crew cut down a Siberian elm that was growing up through the gas meter at Branch, and set them into steel shoes in the bottom of a pair of fiber pots. Once the fiber pots were filled with gravel, these tall branches were stable. As I had a pine cone fest already going on, I decided to hang pine cones on these trees. Marzela and David did all of the work of it. Dan, my landscape super, named these trees Pinus Ulmus. We all found this incredibly amusing. The fun of hanging pine cones on a deciduous tree aside, I wanted to bring some of the warm orangy brown of the cones and grapevine garland onto these pale gray branches.
The centerpieces in the window boxes are largely comprised of bunches of short branches that Rob had for sale in the shop. I can’t say what they are, I was looking at the height, color, and texture, and not the species. The white tallow berry picks are artificial. They and the bleached pine cones add punch and punctuation to the mix. The roof garland features our new pin point LED lights. All of the light garlands are attached to the grapevine.
The two little leaf lindens outside the shop fence got a winter coat of natural curly willow. David got all of the bunches up against the trunk with the help of some bungee cords. Once he had every stem arranged to his satisfaction, he wired them on with concrete wire. He and I covered that wire with two pine cone garlands wound around and secured to each tree. This is a warm look for winter. Rob’s wire baskets with lights in the bottom, and a mass of twigs, got placed on either side of a birch faux bois bench.
We have a very gray and dark season ahead of us. It is a tough time for anyone who gardens in a northern climate. The dark comes on in late afternoon, and does not abate until 8 am. The cold has finally caught up with us. Michigan is renowned on the gray skies list-it ranks right up there. Having the shop with a display for winter will make the winter easier to bear. Every day when I walk to my office door, I will be glad for the warm blanket. It is as simple as that.
One of my most favorite items we sold in the shop for the winter are these strings of lights with giant bulbs. I have Rob to thank for these. The linden closest to the road will have this string lighted all winter long. I come to work in the dark, and I park my car here in the winter. The light these bulbs provide is adding lots of visual vitamin D to my daily life.