How Long Will It Last?

 How long will it last?  This question is asked of me many times over the course of the gardening season.  The questions come in many forms.  The summer season is so short-can I plant my annuals the beginning of May?  How long will the annual plants bloom?  What perennials bloom all summer long?  What perennials bloom the longest?  Which varieties of tulips are perennial? How long will this magnolia bloom ?  What trees bloom all summer long?  How can I have color in my perennial garden every day?  How long will my Becky shasta daisies live?  How long do fiber pots last-can I keep them for more than one season?  How long will a fall planting last?  You get the idea.  Pictured above is the holiday wreath that I made for my front door-last year.  How long did it last?  



I put my holiday wreath in the basement in late February, as I am reluctant to let go of the holiday season.  I brought it to work, and and photographed it on my office door a week ago.  The best part of saving it was Rob’s reaction when he got to work.  He thought maybe I was making a critical statement about his dried weed arrangements.  That was not at all on my mind.  This picture just answers the question.  Many things in the garden are ephemeral.

Last year’s winter display in front of the shop took into consideration that I wanted it to last the winter.  The branches were fresh cut; I knew they would last.  The glass ornaments I prepared as best I could.  Each one had its metal cap glued on.  Enough glue was used such that the air holes in the caps were completely filled.  The day the shop decor was finished, every element looked fresh. 

Michigan winters dish out a lot in the way of stormy weather. Wind, snow and cold take their toll on everything in the landscape.  The burlap drapes and pot wraps shrugged off every insult.  But by late February, the ornaments were beginning to loose their shine. 

The ornaments began to fade; the ornament in the center of this picture has taken on a distinctly orange cast.  Did I mind this?  No.  The branches arranged to look like trees looked like they were loaded with berries.  In March we had red, orange, and silver berries-where the color coating had worn off all together.  How long did it last?  As long as it needed to.


Fresh magnolia leaves are a rich and shiny green on the top side, and a velvety chocolate brown on the obverse.  Magnolia wreaths are beautiful at the holidays; I love the big texture and great color. How long does magnolia stay fresh?  Magnolia kept cold, but not freezing, will stay fresh a long time.  What does a long time mean?  The length of the holiday season.  Subjected to very cold temperatures outside, the leaves will develop freeze spots, but we rarely have temperatures in the low 20’s during December.    

How long does magnolia last?  This wreath was a year old when I sold it.  It had never been hung outdoors.  Magnolia leaves dry beautifully to a pale platinum green.  The undersides if the leaves fade some in the drying process.  A magnolia wreath can be kept a long time, provided that great care is taken in the handling.  The leaves are very brittle when dry, and snap easily.  Storing them in tissue paper in a somewhat cool location will prolong their life.  Magnolia garland and wreaths outdoors will begin to look very tired the end of February.  If you have a covered porch, they might last well into March. 

I cut the elegant feather grass that grew in the roof window boxes all summer, and laid it out to dry.  Will it last?  I have no idea; this is an experiment.  The willingness to experiment can produce some startling results-we’ll see what happens with this.  But I know not to ask too much.  If it lasts until New Year’s, I will feel like it has given enough.

This boltonia is from my rose garden.  I am drying this, and my Japanese anemone as well.  What are my plans for this material?  I’ll take pictures. 

I made this arrangement for a client, using her metal basketweave wall hung container, and her collection of horns.  The arrangement is composed of faux rose hips, dried Queen Anne’s Lace, some unknown weeds, preserved and dried eucalyptus, and preserved bahia spears.  4 of her antlers are wired inside the container; the fifth was glued on to the surface of the container.  I like taking materials that belong to and mean something to a client, and creating something that makes beautiful use of them.  How long will this last?  Long enough for her to tire of it, and think about a new look.  No small part of the beauty of the garden, and the beauty of the season, is its ephemeral nature.  This is just cause for celebration.