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Friday, March 3rd, 2017

GROW: THE JOY OF SEED STARTING

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

HOW-TO: BOTANICAL GIFT TOPPERS

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

HOW TO: BOTANICAL ICE LANTERNS

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.

ice-lantern-shelmerdine

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

– 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)

HOW TO:

  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

RECIPE BOX: HOT MULLED WINE

‘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.  

shelmerdine-hot-mulled-wine-glogg

INGREDIENTS:

– 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

DIRECTIONS:

  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

HOW TO: FORCING INDOOR BULBS

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:

bulb-image-2

STEP 1: PREPARING THE BULBS

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.

STEP 2: SPROUTING UP

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!

STEP 3: FILLING OUT AND BLOOMING

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).

STAGE 4: STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS

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

ELEVATED PUMPKINS

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.

STACK ‘EM UP

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!

pumpkins-shelmerdine

 

EASY PUMPKIN MACRAME

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.

shelmerdine-pumpkins-2

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

HOW TO: FORAGED AUTUMN WREATH

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 . . .

foraged-wreath-2

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

 

Monday, September 26th, 2016

HOW TO: CARE FOR YOUR FIDDLE LEAF FIG

FLF

 

Tall, dark and trendy, fiddle leaf fig trees are everywhere. And if you’re not familiar with the fiddle leaf fig just yet, a quick flip through any design magazine or blog and you’ll spot one in short order.  This interior plant has come to its current popularity with good reason. With its height, dramatic shape, and sculptured dark leaves, the Ficus lyrata’s bold silhouette is perfect for today’s modern, minimalist aesthetic. Available in bush or in tree form, it will continue to grow until told to stop, meaning that pruning may be required to maintain an appropriate scale.

A fiddle leaf fig will take any room from drab to fab!

Here are a few basic tips for keeping your fiddle leaf fig healthy and happy in your home:

  1. Light – First off, fiddle leaf figs like a good amount of sun. The best spot for your fig is a sunny window with a few hours of sunlight each day. 
  2. Soil These plants require a rich well-draining, peaty soil. 
  3. Temperature: This is the hardest part about caring for a fiddle-leaf fig tree: they do not like change. Make sure yours stays in a temperature-controlled environment between 60 and 75 degrees throughout the year.
  4. Water -Water your fig tree when only the top inch of soil is dry. Test this by sticking your finger in the soil. Pretty soon you’ll figure out about how often you need to water. Keep in mind that this may fluctuate based on seasonal humidity, etc. Though it’s hard for some of us to resist over-watering, water only when soil is dry to the touch. When you water, water thoroughly, and allow it to dry down again.  If your plant isn’t getting enough water, the upper leaves will turn brown, while if they are over watered, the lower leaves will brown and drop.
  5. Clean – Those big, showy leaves are also great dust collectors, so be sure to dust and wipe leaves with water or leaf shine when needed. Regular cleaning will keep your plant healthy, shiny, and able to absorb the light that it needs.

Come in and check out our amazing selection of fiddle leaf figs! With good light, soil and general care, your fiddle leaf fig can will grow with you for years to come.

More questions?

Come visit us in store and one of our experts can help you pick out the proper pot, soil (and fertilizer) for your fiddle leaf fig.

Words by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

 

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

IN THE KITCHEN: GIANT ZUCCHINI SOUP

It’s that time of year…

It’s the season that bursts with vine-ripe tomatoes, crisp apples and cucumbers ready for pickling.  It’s also the season of the dreaded giant zucchini.  Zucchinis at this time of year can hardly be left alone a moment before they balloon to the size of a small child – any gardener knows this to be true. And – unlike their smaller, tenderer counterparts – large zucchinis require a little more imagination to use up with much enthusiasm.  So once you’re good and done with zucchini cake, we’ve got just the recipe for you – Giant Zucchini Soup.

Zucchini Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 giant zucchini (or a few reasonably sized ones)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp thyme or oregano
  • Shaved parmesan or asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Sauté onion in a stock pot on medium heat until translucent.
  2. Dice and add garlic to the pot.
  3. Peel and cube your zucchini and remove any seeds. Add to onions and garlic and give it a good stir.
  4. Add vegetable or chicken stock – just enough to cover all of the zucchini pieces. Turn up the heat and bring to a low boil.
  5. Once zucchini is soft, let the pot cool for some time or proceed with caution before blending. Carefully blend the pot contents with an immersion blender until creamy and smooth.
  6. Bring back to the stove on low heat, add spices and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Here, you may add cream to the soup, or reserve for later to drizzle atop each bowl when serving.
  8. Serve topped with freshly-shaved parmesan or asiago cheese, and a dose of fresh cracked pepper.

This soup is delicious as is, but given that zucchinis carry a relatively mild flavor, this recipe is a great one to get a little bit creative with. Temper in some Indian spices early on for a curried version of this soup, or swap in coconut milk and garnish with a heap of Thai basil. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

Words + Photos + Recipe by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

OUR 4TH ANNUAL LOCAL MARKET

It simply wouldn’t be a Manitoba summer without a trip to a local farmers’ market. Consumers in Manitoba are unafraid of trying something new and meeting the faces behind the goods they love so much.  Fresh off the heels of our annual Local Market this past weekend, we thought we would take a moment to learn a little bit more about some of the great local businesses you can find right here in Manitoba. All of the makers we welcomed here this weekend are an extremely talented and hardworking bunch. But the real thread that runs through them all? All of these businesses have an undeniable passion for their local communities. And we love that. Here are a few of the friendly faces that you may have met this past weekend.

 

Border Hills Honey

BORDER HILLS HONEY

Josh and Kayla Wiebe purchased their first hives back in 2013, with little experience and not even one bee sting. A few years (and stings) later, the husband and wife team and their hives are now busy creating many different varieties of honey, as well as beeswax candles.  One thing that is sure to make Border Hills standout at local markets is their live bee display. The display hive is entertaining for adults and kids alike, but Josh and Kayla bring the display hive along to educate, inspire and create a real connection for their customers with the bees that create the honey.

What is your favourite part about being at local markets?  “It is great to see local entrepreneurs, we are meeting many young farmers and small business owners like ourselves, seeing the movement and connection back to the land is very special. Many successful businesses can thank the local community for supporting them in the early years at local markets.”

You can find catch up with Josh and Kayla (and their bees!) on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BorderHillsHoney/).

Hearts and Roots

HEARTS AND ROOTS

Justin Girard and Britt Embry are Hearts and Roots, a spray-free farm located outside of Elie, Manitoba. The to have been living their small farm dream since having renovated an old barn into a dreamy home, and are now in their second growing season.  The two met during their time in university, and eventually the two English literature grads made the decision to go back to the land where Justin grew up and dive head first into organic farming. Two years later, Hearts and Roots can be found selling vegetables at pop up markets all over Winnipeg and beyond.

What have you learned so far about Manitoba’s local maker community?  “It’s a vibrant, uber-talented community. The small, organic and spray-free farmers in Manitoba are extremely good at what they do; we are lucky to be farming here in their company! And the artists and other vendors we’ve met through markets just blow us away with their wares and talent. Winnipeg and Manitoba truly has some of the finest artists, crafters and farmers.”  

You can catch up with Hearts and Roots on their website (http://www.heartsandroots.com/) and on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/heartsandroots/).

iHooked

iHOOKED

Courtney is the owner and creator behind local handmade fashion brand iHooked. Her story starts as many young makers’ stories does – as a young creative mind, crafty growing up doing cross-stitch and drawing.  But the real push for Courtney wasn’t until a few years ago, when needed a new habit to kick a bad one – smoking. Her healthy lifestyle change turned into a wise business decision as simple dishcloths turned into scarves and hats – and eventually opening her own online shop in 2014.

Why do you think making (and supporting!) local is important?  “I think that local products are more than just a product. It’s something that someone has put thought, creativity and love into.”

You can find catch up with Courtney on her website (http://www.ihooked.ca/) and Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/iHooked).  

 

Thank you!  

Thank you so much to all of the artists, makers and farmers (and to all of you!) for coming out to our Local Market this past weekend. Because of the amazing turnout, we plan to host a market every Saturday in August 2017!

Words by Sarah Carson @the.botanical