Saturday, November 20th, 2021

OUR BASIC GUIDE TO HOLIDAY GREENING

There are so many things to love about the holiday season, but if you ask us, nothing beats greening up the home with fresh cedar, pine, and fir! As soon as our fresh greens arrive, we fill our arms full of bunches, bring them home and whip out the pruners. In just an hour or so, you can fill vases, planters, even old teapots with fragrant greenery in every corner of the house. Whether this is new to you or you just need a refresher course, follow along with our basic guide to holiday greening.

Grab a glass of holiday cheer, and enjoy!

1. Nothing but the freshest greenery will do!

Only choose the freshest greenery you can find. Garden centres (like us!) expertly store and keep our greens at optimal humidity and temperature levels, whereas big box and grocery stores, well, not so much! Needles should be vibrant green and pliable, so avoid any greenery that is yellowing, browning, or crispy to the touch. Plan to use your greenery the same day that you buy it. In the case that you need to store it temporarily, keep it in a cold garage.

Shelmerdine Christmas Greens

2. Decide on your vessels.

Any watertight container will work. From vases to plant pots, teacups to tupperware – anything that holds water will do the job. And size doesn’t matter either! You might opt for smaller vessels for nightstands, bathrooms and offices, and larger vessels for dining and coffee tables. Think through where you will place each vessel in your home, and then line them all up on your work surface.

3. Assemble your supplies.

To get started, you’ll need: pruners or strong pruning snips, blocks of floral foam (often referred to as Oasis), a mixture of fresh greenery boughs, and any additional decorative items such as pinecones, bows, and baubles. And of course, your vessels!

4. Soak and fill.

Fill up your sink with cool water and completely submerge and soak the floral wire for about 10 minutes. Here’s a little pro tip! Take a toothpick and poke into the middle of the foam a few times – it will help water soak through to the center quickly. Once soaked, fill the vessels with the foam. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can cut the foam with a knife to get the shape right. If you end up with little scrap corners of foam, use those up too.

Shelmerdine Holiday Greening

4. Start chopping!

Using your pruners, cut your boughs into various sizes of pieces. They can range from 4″ to 8″ depending on the size of the vessels you’re using. Having a variety of sizes will give you more options in terms of shaping the arrangement. Making your cuts on a diagonal 45% angle will make them easier to insert into the foam, as opposed to a blunt 90% angle.

5. Let the greening begin!

At last, the fun part! Begin by pushing a spring of greenery into the middle of the vessel. As a rule of thumb, this center sprig should be x 1 to x 1.5 compared to the height of the vessel. Working from this center piece outward, push more and more greenery springs into the foam, working with taller pieces towards the center and shorter pieces towards the edges. Here’s the trick – don’t think too hard! Just keep adding and filling! As an end result, you shouldn’t see any floral foam at all. Use any and all sprigs that you have, and as many varieties as you can, just make sure they are in contact with the wet foam. If, at the end, a few pieces look askew, pull them out and reposition them, or use your pruners to snip them to size.

Shelmerdien

6. Embellish with pinecones, ribbon, decorative picks – play!

Now that you’ve greened up your vessel, add some holiday flare with whatever items you have! Some of our favorites are picked pine cones, baubles, ribbon, and little twigs from the garden. Some choose to leave their greenery arrangements ‘naked’ and this is just as beautiful!

Shelmerdine Greenery Arrangement

7. Top up the water. 

Dip your finger into the corner of the container. If you feel fluid water, you’re fine, but if water doesn’t pour out of the container, fill it up as much as you can. Greenery arrangements are thristy, and daily watering should be expected. Avoid placing your arrangements near floor vents and fireplaces altogether. As a general rule, fresh greenery arrangements last about 2 weeks indoors. Therefore, if you plan to create a centrepiece for your Christmas dinner, time that project as close to Christmas as possible.

We hope that our basic guide to holiday greening is helpful and that greening will become part of your holiday tradition. Don’t forget – fresh greenery arrangements are wonderful and economical gifts for your loved ones too! For even more inspiration, visit our Shelmerdine Pinterest board right here, or better yet, visit us!

Happy Holidays!

xo Team Shelmerdine

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

WINTER CARE FOR HEALTHY HOUSEPLANTS

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and suddenly we’re staring down the barrel of a long winter – (sigh). We’re not the only ones who struggle with the onslaught of winter – houseplants are challenged too! Our winters offer less than ideal growing conditions, so to keep your plant babies healthy and happy, you need to adjust your winter plant care routine for healthy houseplants. Here’s how:

Change Your Watering Routine

Indoor plants need far less water during the winter than they do the rest of the year. Let’s translate that into human terms. In the summertime you go for walks, bike rides, and play outside – you’re active and therefore you’re thirsty! Plants experience the same thing. In the spring and summer, they’re actively growing, so they’re thirsty and need more water to thrive.  But once the cold weather arrives, they’re activity and growth rate significantly slows down. So until late February, adjust your watering routine by watering less frequently and with less water. This will also reduce chances of having fungus gnats in your soil as they thrive and lay eggs in moist soil.

Increase Humidity

Low humidity is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome in regards to winter care for your houseplants. The humidity level in heated homes can drop to 10 to 20 percent in winter and plants prefer a level closer to 50 percent. Consider mitigating this by adding a humidifier in your home, and move your plants to a spot where they will enjoy its benefits. Without a humidifier, you’re going to need to raise the humidity level by other means, such as by clustering your plants in groups. Plants naturally release water through their leaves by transpiring, so grouping them together will increase humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to have higher humidity levels because that’s where we run the taps. Consider these rooms as options if they offer enough sunlight to your plants.

Another good option is the old trick of placing your plants on or near a moisture tray. This can be as simple as a plate or saucer filled with a layer of pebbles and water. Just make sure that the plant pot sits on top of the pebbles and not directly in the water. This method creates a little biosphere of humidity around the plant.

The method of frequent misting does a better job of making the gardener feel good than of helping the plant. While using a mister is somewhat beneficial to plants, you’d need to mist multiple times a day to really see any benefit since the dry heat in our homes will evaporate the mist almost immediately. It’s hard to over mist an indoor plant, especially in the winter months.

Watch the Temperature

Most plants enjoy daytime temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temps above 50 degrees Fahrenheit – very similar to the temperatures that humans enjoy. To provide those temperatures for your plants, keep them away from both cold drafts and sources of heat, like exterior doorways, radiators, ovens, fireplaces, and electronic heaters. A big part of winter care for healthy houseplants is temperature, fluctuations in temperature are a big no-no and can kill houseplants!

Follow the Sun

Not only are there fewer sunlight hours during winter, it also comes into our homes at a lower angle. You might need to relocate your houseplants to a brighter room or even add supplemental light. South or west facing windows typically offer the best lighting in winter. Each time you water your plant, rotate the pot so that all sides of the plant get some sun and to keep the plants growing evenly, rather than stretching unevenly to reach the light.

Put Your Plants On A Diet

Since your plants will barely be growing at all from October through April, they don’t need any fertilizer at all. Feeding them during these months will just upset their natural cycle and confuse them, so hold off until early spring. We suggest stopping all fertilization between Thanksiving and Easter. When your plant babies start to show you signs of new growth, resume fertilizing, to give them a boost for the growing season.

Chill Out, Plant Lover!

Whatever you do, don’t fuss over your plant family too much or as we say ‘kill them with kindness’. Consider winter an off-season for your houseplants and let them rest. Sit back and admire them, enjoy their warmth and positivity. Let your eyes soak in the beauty of green. They will love you for it!

Sending you and your plant family lots of love this winter!     

xo Team Shelmerdine

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

WINTER CARE FOR BIRDS

We love our birds! SO MUCH! Whether we’re waking up to their sweet singing or watching them frolic around a feeder, birds do something to us. When we’re engaged with them, all of worldly concerns seem to fall away, even if only for a few moments. As winter approaches and so prevails, birds really need our help. Imagine being a tiny little bird out there in the elements, staring into the face of winter. Eeeep! They need our help to provide nutrition, shelter, and water, in order to survive. Here are some ways that you can provide winter care for birds in your own backyard!

Shelmerdine Bird

Nutrition

In general, winter birdfeeding should offer food that is high in fat. Birds need to move more in order to stay warm and to survive the cold. And, finding food is more difficult for them during the winter, as insects and seeds are harder to find. Ideally, your winter birdfeeders should contain a mixture of seeds such as black oil sunflower, shelled peanuts, thistle seed, and white millet seed. Besides seed, suet is simply wonderful in terms of fatty content! Within the fatty suet, a variety of seeds, fruit, oats, peanut butter, corn meal and meal worms is suspended. Suet is an excellent source of energy and comes in so many formats that are easy to put out for your feathered friends.

Shelmerdine Suet

a downy woodpecker hangs from the cage of a suet feeder. Black eyes wide open, the bird looks at the peanut suet treat.

Here’s the catch. Not all birdseed is created equal. 

This is where we fluff up our feathers! The majority of birdseed in big box and grocery stores is primarily filler, such as milo seed, which birds don’t eat. As a local business, we work closely with locally graineries to offer you the highest quality bird seed – with no fillers. If you’re passionate about feeding your birds, do your research and choose your feed wisely.

Consistency is key!

Once birds discover and start to eat from your feeders, it’s very important to be consistent about keeping your birdfeeders filled. Birds are very territorial and rely on sources of food within their territories. They perform daily feeding routines and will quickly begin to rely on your feeder as a source of food. If the feeder is empty at times, birds won’t regard it as a reliable source of food and may not visit as much as you’d like to see them.

Shelmerdine Birdfeeder

Shelter

All birds need cover to nest in, to hide from predators, and to protect them from winter elements. Even if your yard is small, a mixture of trees and shrubs, especially dense evergreens, will offer them protection. Some birds are rather shy and won’t approach a feeder unless there’s vegetative protection nearby. Including evergreen trees and shrubs into your landscape as an essential way to provide winter care for birds. Our little tip: Once Christmas is over, set your real tree outside until the springtime- the birds will enjoy the extra protection! 

Water

Water can be extremely hard even in warm weather, and birds need fresh water all year long. Yes, birds need to drink too! Although birds can eat snow, it costs them precious energy to warm the snow up to body temperature. Flying around in search of water burns their energy and takes them farther away from food sources. The simple act of providing fresh water in winter can make the difference between survival and death for birds. You can remedy this by setting out a heated birdbath or pet dish, or by setting out saucers of fresh water near your feeders until they freeze.

Be a friend to the birds this winter! They’ll thank you with the sweetest of songs come springtime!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

WINTERIZE YOUR WATER FEATURE

With winter on the way, there are some things that should be done to winterize your yard. One of the most important things is to properly winterize your water feature, if you have one. This will ensure that no damage is caused over the winter and you will avoid disappointment the following year when you are ready to get it going again.

These guidelines are meant for fountains and water features only, not for ponds that contain fish or remain unfrozen over the winter. If you are unsure of how to prepare your larger pond for winter, talk to one of our water gardening experts for advice.

 

Remove Plants

The first thing you should do to winterize your water feature is to remove any water plants you may have. You will have to decide if you are going to over-winter them indoors or just buy new ones the following spring. Since over-wintering water plants requires time and space, this can be a tricky process. Whether or not you decide to over-winter your plants, they should be removed before or at the first frost.

 

Drain your Feature

With the plants out of the way, it is now time to clean and drain your feature. Remove any debris that has fallen to the bottom of the bowl or into the pump vault, if you have one. The pump vault is the box that holds the pump and having any debris in it may affect the water uptake of your pump next season. You should clean any algae that have formed. You can use simple dish soap and a scrub brush to clean your feature. It’s not a good idea to use bleach because bleach can dry and crack the seals of your pump. After your water feature has been cleaned well, make sure it is completely dry. If it is not dry before winter, the water left in it will freeze, expand, and damage your feature.

 

Store your Feature

For small fountains, it is best to disassemble them and store in a safe location. This will prevent them from becoming weathered or damaged over the harsh months. If your feature is small enough to do this, it is also a good idea to bring the pump inside. You may want store the pump in a bucket of water to prevent the seals from drying out and cracking.

If you are not able to store your fountain because of its size, you should ensure that it is completely dry. Then it should be covered thoroughly with a tarp or a fountain cover. Fountain covers are available in our garden store. If you are not able to remove the pump, you can leave it in your feature over the winter, but, again, it must be completely dry. If there is any water in your pump over winter it will freeze. This will damage your pump and you may have to replace part or all of it the following year.

For in-ground water features, you should also ensure they are dry. If your feature is made out of concrete or plastic having water in it over the winter will cause it to crack. If you can remove the pump and store it inside, do so. Otherwise, as long is the pump is dry it is okay to leave it out over the winter.

With these few simple steps, you can successfully winterize your water feature so that it will bring you many seasons of enjoyment for years to come.

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Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm

Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Toll Free: 1.888.895.0032
Fax: 204.895.4372
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