Gardener's Grapevine 2011.12.21

Written by David Green.

This past weekend Art and I took a trip to Frankenmuth, Mich., to finish our Christmas shopping. This town obviously knows how to decorate for Christmas—they deck the halls and then some! We enjoyed the decorations both inside and outside.

There is a welcome center and museum in the center of the town and there are evergreen topiaries cut like animals in front. The penguin was adorable and he wasn’t even decked out in Christmas finery at all.

I always look at anything made with natural items. Nature and what can be done with it amazes me. In front of the museum was a planter full of hydrangeas. When a hydrangea goes dormant it loses its leaves but not its blooms. The blooms will fade, but as a general rule they stay on the stems. They are not very pretty in winter and a whole row of them is ugly, I’m sure. These hydrangea blooms were faded a dark burgundy and still looked very pretty. 

What I thought was neat was whoever decorated the building put evergreen in the planter amongst the hydrangea and used just the blooms to accent it. It was very nice and natural. I think it would have been even prettier if they had planted holly bushes with the hydrangea. Both plants are acid lovers, so they would work well together in the soil. Shaggy evergreen was what was used and that would contrast great with holly.

The hotel we stayed in was beautifully decorated also, and they had some nice elegant outside decorations in their summer planters. They used long branches of shaggy evergreen in the pots and let them drape over the sides in various lengths. In the center were two different types of evergreen that had tighter needles and wild thistles had been sprayed red and inserted among the evergreen. They pulled it all together with two different, four inch wide ribbons of gold and red layered and twisted and entwined in the evergreen. I thought this effect would be gorgeous in front of our library with its wide entryway. The hotel’s pots were huge—at least three feet tall and two feet wide or more—and it really made a stunning entry.

I promised Laurie Schisler I’d go to Bronner’s Christmas store. I am not a huge fan of commercialized Christmas, so is not always a stop we plan on making. They have beautiful things to look at and purchase if you want to fight the half million people who are there. I must say I’ve never seen so many different and beautiful nativity scenes. The outside of Bronner’s is so decorated and lighted I think it can be seen from outer space.

As we go into our blessed holiday and set our dining room tables for dinner, think of making your own centerpiece. If you have evergreen, holly, pine cones, dead grasses, you have what you need. Pick a nice container such as a special bowl or platter with a piece of floral foam wetted. Add the yard findings and maybe a candle, candlestick, an ornament or a special figurine to work in. This can make a stunning centerpiece and costs nothing. The glory of using things from the yard is you can use as little or as much as you desire; cost isn’t a factor.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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