Wednesday, December 18

Garden Pic Wednesday: Christmas Flowers & Fresh Trees

I mentioned yesterday we were having a Gingerbread House building contest at our Bible Study Christmas Party last night---which we've never done before---and it turned out fantastic! There were 3 teams building graham cracker art and they really got into it! Lots of creativity. It was Kullin's idea. (The guy who helped us build our landscape wall). While he was at college, it was something he and his fellow engineering students did annually. He said the houses our teams came up with last night were way better then anything built by engineering students!
To which Randy said, "I hope none of them ended up
 building bridges."
Kullin replied, "Well, unfortunately some of  them did."
LOL. It very funny.
I was one of the judging team. We had one person from every team explain the ideas behind their construction, then we judges retired to another room to make our decision.
We picked one as "Best of Show." It had a peaked roof layered with mints on one side and gum drops on the other. It was the most gingerbread house looking. But we gave also gave the other two "awards" for one being "The Most Creative" (they made a 3D dog dog of mints that was impressive) and "Best Use of Materials" (they created a two story structure with something blue on the inside 2nd floor that was an "indoor pool." Clever.) 
So everyone won!

Today's Pics:
First: fresh flowers arranged in my vase of fresh Christmas tree branches!
The Fraser fir branches create firm mesh to insert flowers into.
This was a $7 bundle from Walmart. It included 1 white cremone, 2 red cars, 2 pink alstromeria, 3 white poms & 3 green buttons.
Dec 14 was my birthday and I decided I wanted some fresh flowers!
(These are all very long lasting flowers.)

How to Make a Similar Arrangement:
You need a vase fully of Xmas greenery. (The "X" in Xmas is the Greek letter for "Christ" by the way.)
Cut all stems at a slight angle.
Select a flower you want to be the center flower and cut it a tad taller then your greenery. Insert it in the middle.
The select 4 other primary flowers (in this case I used carns & alstro) and insert them around the bottom so they stick out about the width of your greenery. Place them at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. (
Now you want to use your remaining flowers to fill in the spaces in between the outer 4 and center flower.
Chrysanthemums (poms, buttons and daisies) tend to have a lot of long stemmed buds. Remove those until you have just the main center 2 to 4 blossoms at the top (but don't discard buds). Insert to fill in the spaces between center flower and base flowers.
 Last, insert all those bud stems around the rim of the vase and any other space you see throughout arrangement, since they're inclined to open evenutally.
Try to keep a roundish shape in general, though it doesn't need to be perfect.
Remember to re-cut stems and add fresh water as needed!

Next: Our Christmas Tree:
This is a fresh Fraser fir. I remember when Scotch Pines were the primary tree on tree lots when I was a kid and even later after I was married. Eventually Douglas firs started being available, too, but they were a premium tree twice the price, but people wanted something less prickly.
Since then, for a good many years now, Frazer firs have become the lot tree of choice with price ranges and sizes suitable to every pocket book because they're user-friendly and soft to the touch. Plus they have sturdy branches full of lovely spaces for decorations!

How to Care for a Fresh Tree:
Fresh trees should be treated like fresh flowers. The sap seals their stems when they're initially cut, so they need a fresh, slightly angled cut and a day or two in a very warm bucket of tap water outside for a fresh drink before you put them up, so they can fully re-hydrate.
(The lots may place them in water, but they generally don't re-cut the stems, so the trees ability to drink that water is a little inhibited.)

Adding Sprite or a quarter cup of lemon juice to your water bucket is a good idea--this is like adding the packet of powder florists give you for your vase--it freshens and extends the life of your tree!
Just bringing them home and putting them up without a fresh cut and a good drink for a couple days in a bucket will mean a very short life for your tree!

Once your tree is up, fill the stand with warm tap water, then check it regularly and keep the stand adequately full.
 Your tree will drink A LOT of water for the first couple weeks, so you'll need to check often. (Especially if heat is on!)
Then as days pass, it's water intake slows down--because, like flowers in a vase, it is dying.
I happen to have a wide, old-fashioned metal dish type tree-stand that I have to cover with foil, so the skirt won't get wet, but I leave an opening for adding water. Then I arrange the skirt so the slit is convenient to my watering spot. 
(The foil also keeps pets out of it!)
Hint: rubbing alcohol will remove sap from hands and fingers.
Come back tomorrow for Mama Kat!

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