Tuesday, April 18th, 2017


Don’t let the early spring showers and sunbeams fool you — those long-awaited frost-free days of summer are still a good few weeks away. But for those of us that can’t wait to fill our planters with something pretty in the meantime, this is the perfect project for beautifying your containers.  For early spring, the key is using plants that are cold-tolerant. Here, we used pansies, which are one of the only plants which are hardy enough to handle varied springtime conditions, along with curly willow and pussywillow branches.

Let’s start planting!

You may already know that the ‘tried and true’ composition for a show-stopping planter design includes a thriller, a filler and a spiller.

  • The thriller being the attention-grabber, and visual anchor for the pot — the curly willow in this case.
  • The filler is a mid-height component that fills out the design — our pussy willows play this role nicely.
  • And, finally, and the spiller effectively spills down and trails over the pot’s edge — that’s where the pansies come in. And while these varieties of pansies won’t truly spill out of the planter, the pop of colour near the bottom provides an element of contrast.

With these three components working together, you have a cohesive design that is interesting to the eye. The result is a fresh and joyful spring planter that will withstand whatever weather spring throws at us — perfect for spring! Learn more tips and tricks by joining us for two FREE seminars this month! Container Gardening for Beginners is happening Thursday, April 27 from 6:30-7:30 pm and Container Gardening for Master Gardeners is Saturday, April 29 from 11:00 am to 12 pm.

Words + photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical


Saturday, April 8th, 2017


Spring is the time of fresh blooms and the slow return of those sweet pink, purple and yellow hues.  It makes sense then, that these are the colours often associated with Easter decor. But since we tend to err on the side of green, we thought we’d play with a little something different this year. Here’s a little dose of inspiration for a fresh and undeniably elegant table runner or centrepiece — perfect for spring.

How’d we do it? First, we used reindeer moss to create a soft, but bold, bed of greenery. From there, we layered different varieties of tillandsias, otherwise known as ‘air plants’ along with naturally green-hued farm eggs.  The beauty of decorating with tillandsias is that they only need light, air and moisture to live.  They don’t require soil, so they can be placed just about anywhere.  These soy candles from Winnipeg’s own Soy Harvest Candle provide the perfect pop of colour to complete this table setting. Notice how they highlight the pink-streaked tillandsias?

You could also experiment with small potted succulents, ferns, twigs or low vases of fresh cut flowers.

Now that you’ve set the table, just add a simple frittata, a batch of mimosas and a few friends, and you have an elegant springtime brunch.

Happy Easter!

Words + photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Saturday, April 1st, 2017


Blog Cover Shelmerdine

Let’s go into the woods . . .

From ferns, to mosses, to vast forests of tall spruce, it’s clear that all things woodland have been a great source of inspiration this season.  So when we got our hands on these log planters, we dove right into creating a woodland-inspired planter to bring a little bit of the woods into any urban backyard. This project is a great opportunity to work with new plants and get creative. And it’s super simple.

All you need is a log planter, some gravel (these planters do not have drainage), potting soil, and plants of your choice. Simply start by filling the planter with an inch or two of gravel or stones and then you’re ready to get your hands dirty and pot your plants.

Here, we used a small fern, a dwarf Japanese Cedar and an Eastern Hemlock for distinct woodland vibes, but you could use any combination of annuals or small indoor plants.  We finished off our planter with a layer of wood chips, but topping with Spanish moss would also create a unique effect.


Shelmerdine Blog

Shelmerdine PLanter with Pots

Happy planting!

Words + photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017


For gardeners everywhere, we are approaching an undeniably exciting time — spring is near! As for us, we’re a few short weeks away from our annual Spring Open House, so we’re extra excited to see all of you in our greenhouse again. Now is the time to start thinking about all things green, like starting seeds for this summer’s vegetable garden. If you’ve tired starting your own seeds, you’re in for a treat. Not only does it save save you money, it’s a rewarding practice that extends the gardening season and allows you to get to know your plants a little better. And it’s easy. Here are the basics to get your started:

  1. Select your seeds:
    This is half the fun! There are so many varieties out there – from your grandparents favorites to new gourmet vegetables.  New this year, we’re excited to be carrying West Coast Seeds, an amazing organic seed collection from right here in Canada. They offer an assortment of untreated, non-GMO seeds with some truly unique heritage varieties we just can’t wait to try (wasabi radishes, anyone?).
  2. Set the stage:
    While grow lights are becoming more and more popular, you can have a great deal of success with a simple set up on a sunny windowsill. Egg cartons or other upcycled containers work well, but our pick is a handy windowsill starter kit that includes everything you need to start your seeds with confidence.  It’s important to use seed starting soil, which is light enough for seeds to sprout through, and a heating mat which will help to speed up germination time. 
  3. Plan your schedule:
    While it’s tempting to start as soon as possible, planting too early means you run the risk of plants being ready for planting before the ground is. A good rule of thumb is to start seeds about six to eight weeks before you wish to plant them outdoors. To make sure you get it right, consult this germination chart for our Zone 3 climate — or the instructions on your seed package — to ensure you’re planting at the optimal time for each variety.
  4. Plant:
    Simply plant your seeds following the directions on your seed package. Remember to plant a few extra of each variety to account for those seeds that may fail to germinate, and be sure to clearly label each pod.
  5. Take care:
    Make use of a spray bottle for watering in the early days of germination. From there, keep the soil moist and never allow it to dry out. Let them bask in the sunlight and your seedlings will be sprouting before you know it!

Happy Seed Starting! 

Want to learn more? Join us on Saturday, March 11 for our FREE Indoor Growing and Seed Starting Class and save 20% off all seeds and seed starting materials from March 4 – 11.  

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016


Amid the rush to ‘get it all done’ before the holidays, it’s easy to forget to take a moment now and again to stop and truly enjoy the season.  The sight of a carefully decorated tree, the smell of fresh greenery in the house — it’s the little things that make the holidays so magical.  And while that to-do list will not magically disappear, we can all carve out a little time to complete our tasks in a mindful and nourishing way. This year, take a moment to slow down and opt for a little botanical inspiration that will dress up any gift, big or small.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper: For the earthy look, go for kraft, simple white or upcycled newspaper.
  • Toppers: The options are endless. Spruce and cedar clippings are easily found at this time of year, or opt for a clipping from a houseplant if you’ll be giving the gift immediately. A sprig of fresh rosemary is a great edible option, and one you can pick up at the grocery store.
  • Little Extras: Twine, butcher string, or jute make great alternatives to store-bought ribbon.

While the final result is elegant, simplicity is the essence of this approach — you can use whatever you have on hand.  The best part? You’ll reap all of the added benefits of working with some plants — the perfect thing to calm a stressful Christmas mind.

Merry Christmas!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Friday, December 9th, 2016


Trim the tree, hang the wreath and finish the baking — but then what?  We have just the little project to light up your front steps as guests start to arrive at your front door!  So turn up the Christmas carols while you make these botanical ice lanterns that will bring that little extra sparkle and festivity as we approach the darkest time of year.



– an ice lantern mold

– water

– foraged finds (try cedar or spruce sprigs, or a clipping or two from an indoor houseplant)

– festive fruits (think cranberries, or sliced oranges or lemons)

– tealights candles (either LED or traditional will do)


  1. Simply add your choice of botanical elements to the mold and fill with water.  Keep in mind that some of your ‘fillings’ may tend to float in water, which means they’ll end up concentrated at the bottom of your ice candle once frozen. To prevent this, add a few orange slices or cranberries, for example, to the mold and cover with just enough water to freeze in place. Once frozen, you may add yet another layer, or simply finish the lantern by filling with water.
  2. Set outside, or pop in the freezer until frozen solid. To remove the lantern, simply allow the mold to thaw a few minutes, or run under some warm water until it slides out.
  3. Light a candle and carefully place in the center of the mold.

That’s it! The sky’s the limit — the ice mold can be used as a table centrepiece, an ice cooler, even a festive dip chiller for entertaining! Want to change up the color of the ice? Just add a little food coloring to the water. Have fun creating different combinations to light up your walkway and garden this winter.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Friday, December 2nd, 2016


‘Tis the season for entertaining! Whether you’re searching for the perfect something to spice up a holiday gathering or find yourself hosting unannounced guests, we present to you a positively stress free solution — serve up a batch of Glögg!  This Glögg – the Swedish translation for hot mulled wine – recipe is about as simple as it gets — meaning you will have a crowd-pleasing festive holiday drink ready in just a few minutes.  



– 1 bottle red wine

– 1/3 cup honey (we used John Russell creamed honey with saskatoons)

– 1 navel or blood orange, sliced into rounds

– 2-3 piece of of each cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom, black peppercorns, or 1 package of Crave Mulling Spices


  1. Simply combine honey, sliced orange, and spices in a large pot and place over medium heat, adding just a small glug of wine to start (water works just as well here) to create a syrup-like consistency. Bring this spice base to a boil, and then turn down to simmer for a minumum of 4-5 minutes.  The longer you let it mull, the better it tastes!
  2. Add the remainder of the wine and turn the heat down to low, allowing the wine to warm gradually without coming to a boil (and burning off alcohol content).
  3. Ladle Glögg into mugs, garnishing with a cinnamon stick or a slice of fresh orange.
  4. Enjoy!

Tip: The pressure is off here. Use whatever combination of spices you have on hand — and feel free to use ground spices in place of whole. Simple wrap the ground spices in a resuable tea bag or some cheesecloth. Don’t have oranges? Substitute for chopped apples or raisins. Also, you may wish to substitute the hot red wine for apple juice or tea to create a sweet, alcohol-free version of this festive drink.

Cheers to the holidays!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Thursday, November 17th, 2016


Don’t let this beautifully prolonged fall fool you winter is coming. And as we put our gardens to rest for the big freeze, it’s an opt time to turn our focus indoors.  Forcing bulbs indoors is an undeniably fun way to invite the fresh blooms of spring into your home regardless of the weather outside.  With a little planning and preparation, you’ll be enjoying freshly bloomed paperwhites, amaryllis, and hyacinth during the winter freeze!

‘Forcing’ a bulb essentially means coaxing it into producing a shoot, stem and flower outside of its regular environment and schedule. It’s also easier than you might think.  Here are step-by-step instructions for forcing bulbs indoors this winter:



Plant your bulbs: Paperwhites, hyacinth, and amaryllis are great candidates for forcing. And although you might not be used to planting bulbs in an indoor container, this process is pretty self-explanatory. Plant your bulbs in some well-draining potting soil, in a container with good drainage. (Remember — this will be the container you display your bloomed arrangement in, so choose wisely!) You may wish to plant individually to produce a single stem, or in a cluster to result in a bouquet of blooms.

Put ‘em away: Next, you’ll need to put your bulbs away for a good while in a cool, dark location. This might be the garage, porch, or even the fridge — so long as the temperature is a consistent 4-10° C. Be sure to cover the bulbs with a lid or a cardboard box to ensure they aren’t exposed to any light during this period.

Mark the calendar: Bulbs need to be left undisturbed for quite some time. For hyacinths, this will mean roughly 8-12 weeks. Ensure that your bulbs aren’t exposed to any light or change in temperature — and be sure to keep the soil moist during this time.


You’ll know it’s time to move your bulbs to the next stage when you notice two-to-three-inch shoots sprouting from the soil. You might also notice roots emerging from the drainage holes out the bottom. Now is the time to move your bulbs to a warmer location, at about 15° C, with some moderate light. Still, be sure to keep the soil watered!


After a few weeks, you’ll notice the plants beginning to fill out. Now is the time to move the plants to a bright, sunny location with a temperature at 18° C (any warmer, and the flowering time may reduce).


Once the flowers open, move them out of direct sunlight — this will help the flowers to last longer.

Happy blooming!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016


It’s pumpkin season and never before have pumpkins been so sophisticated!  From ghost white to shades of grey and blood orange hues, the specialty pumpkins, gourds and squash in our pumpkin patch are a decorator’s dream. To celebrate this beautiful variety, we couldn’t help but get a little bit creative. Here are a few pieces of inspiration to take your pumpkins and gourds to new heights.


Instead of storing away your garden obelisk after your climbers are finished for the season, use it to take your pumpkins and gourds up a level.

How to: Simply stack pumpkins and gourds in and around the structure for a visually surprising and earthy element to your home.  Take it a step further by stringing a few strands of mini-lights through and around the arrangement so that it can be enjoyed in the dark!




Believe it or not, macramé has made a big comeback in home décor in recent years. This is a great way to change up any hanging displays you might have in your home already, or a great reason to add a hanging element to your home.

How to: Simply hang your choice of pumpkin or gourd using a macramé plant holder. Here, you can DIY using twine or rope that you have around the house, or stop in and pick up one of our cute little wooden beaded hangers.  This easy hanger can be placed indoors or outdoors.


Grab a pumpkin spice latte from the Secret Garden Cafe and explore Shelmerdine’s designer pumpkin patch!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


It’s no secret that we love the season of colorful crispy leaves, cozy scarves and just about everything that comes with the slightly slower pace of fall. The only trouble is that autumn comes just as quickly as it goes. This little project is super simple and requires no special supplies (festive and free!) and is a great way to spend time with family or friends during the short-lived autumn season.  

Let’s head outside . . .


Step 1: Forage

To start, all you need to do grab a pair of pruners and go for a short walk to source your natural elements, or simply collect items from your yard. Willow branches make a great base here, but use whatever thin, malleable branches are handy. From there, collect a few other elements (think leaves, grasses or berries) that you find along the way to dress up your wreath.

Step 2: Assemble

Simple shape your willow or other branch into a circular shape and fasten into place. Floral wire is handy, but not totally necessary. Here, we used a combination of thread and twine to shape the wreath and add natural elements (even twist ties will do the trick!).  This wreath can be dressed up with as many colours and textures as you choose. Or, go for a more minimalist look it’s up to you! The real trick is not to worry about supplies or sourcing the ‘perfect’ elements — everything is beautiful at this time of year! 

Step 3: Enjoy!

Hang your wreath in an entryway, from a door, or on whatever wall you please – your home will feel more warm and welcoming!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical