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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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