Forcing Quince

Flowering quince shrub in spring.

Last week I brought in a few quince branches from our large bush in the yard.

Pink blooming quince.

When this bush blooms in spring the flowers are pink.

Branches from the same bush are blooming white this winter.

The flowers that bloomed inside this week were white.

White flowers are actually my favorite.

Flowering quince are a nice reminder of spring on frigid winter days.

What is your reminder of warmer weather?


Colorful Birds Like the Bird Tree

We put our bare Christmas tree out in the yard to attract birds with some homemade edible ornaments.

Charlie is admiring the bird tree. We’re still waiting for the birds.

Charlie is home during the day and saw birds around and near the tree before I did.  He sent me a fuzzy photo.

There were both male and female cardinals in a flock of about 10.

Today I finally saw some birds for myself.  There was a flock of cardinals feeding on the ground near the tree. I saw one fly into the branches but not feed on the seeded pine cones.

A downy woodpecker perched on the seed bell.

The big attraction for me was a downy woodpecker on the seed bell we had placed on the top of the tree. I watched for a long time while he hammered away at the bell.

Downy woodpecker.

The downy woodpecker is smallest woodpecker in North America, common and widespread. In the east this is the most familiar member of the family coming to backyard bird feeders.  In winter it often joins roving mixed flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, and other birds in the woods.


Do you have a favorite feathered friend?


Pine Cone Bird Snacks

When we put the bare Christmas tree out in the yard to attract birds we needed some edible ornaments.

Birdseed and a large jar of peanut butter are around $10.

I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to purchase peanut butter and bird seed.

Dried pine cones are open so we dried some of the newly gathered ones in the oven.

I had some pine cones (left over from other projects) onto which we tied some wire for hanging. Sug spread peanut butter on the cones.

We put the birdseen on a tray on paper to keep it contained.

We simply rolled the cones in a plate of bird seed and voila — bird snacks.

Pine cones covered in peanutbutter and bird seed.

We made a dozen but have plenty of supplies to replenish the tree if it is popular with birds.

Charlie wired the ornaments onto the tree.

We hung the cones on the balsam fir and added a bird seed bell a the top.

Charlie is admiring the bird tree. We’re still waiting for the birds.

We dug a hole in the bottom of a pre-made birdseed bell and fitted it onto the top of the tree.  Hoping for some hungry visitors soon.

We can see the tree from all the rooms at the back of the house.

We added a laser light for a little night interest.

When do you take your holiday decorations down?

I’ve Been So Busy . . .

I haven’t been able to get anything done to improve our home since we painted our bed.

The new finish is charcoal grey with a darker drybrush finish.

That was back in October.

The Christmas tree takes up a big space in the living room.

Charlie texted me at work to inquire if I’d like him to take the Christmas tree down.  Oh, yes!

Bare tree

He carefully removed all the ornaments and lights including da beahs.

The tree look nice in the garden which is barren in this season.

I suggested he stand the tree up in the yard to which he responded, “Are you serious?”

Hoping we will attract some birds which we can watch from the kitchen.

I am definitely serious because I thought we could make a bird feeder tree. When I sent him inspiration from here Charlie set up the tree in his garden.

I have some dried pine cones left over from the advent wreath project.

Hoping to have time this weekend to make a few edible ornaments.

Do you have bird feeders?

Advent Wreath Prototype

Next week we’ll be making Advent wreaths.

This pretty wreath is not exactly like the ones we made.

I have supplies for 10 families so Sug and I each made a wreath as examples to find out how difficult it would be and to have prototypes on hand.

I wired together arborvitae, spruce, magnolia, and boxwood. (In the end I decided against boxwood for my wreath.)

We began by piling up freshly cut greens from the yard and trimming off pieces about 6 inches long.

Sugs wired bunches include holly and magnolia leaves.

With green floral wire I wired together 4 types of greens to make a small bouquet.  I repeated this 8 times before attaching them to the wreath frame.

Wreath frame with wire attached.

In order to attach the evergreen posies to the wire wreath frame I tied the end of floral wire around a crossbar.

Don’t cut the wire until all the greens are connected.

Add the first clump of greens and wrap the wire around the wreath frame and greens.  Without cutting the wire continue wrapping it around additional packets of greens.  Tie off the wire when all greens have been connected and the wreath frame is covered.

Sug’s wreath uses holly which is a colorful addition.

After the greens are attached add with wire or hot glue any decorations you have on hand.

A small clump of grapes and wheat are wired to the frame on top of the greens.

I wired on a small sheath of wheat and a clump of artificial grapes.  I also put on some small glass Christmas balls and a wooden cross.

A finished wreath.

Finish with advent candles which can be purchased together.

A view from directly above the wreath which rests on a silver platter and will ultimately sit in the middle of the dining room table.

Sometimes all purple or all blue candles are used with a white candle in the center.

Do you have a favorite evergreen?

Cutting Some Greens

I am having a get-together of ten families to make Advent wreaths.

Metal wreath frame.

I purchased wreath frames with candle holders incorporated.

The wreath traditionally has 3 purple candles and a pink one. A white candle can be added to the center for lighting on Christmas.

I also bought a dozen packs of 4 candles especially packaged for Advent.

We have some massive spruce trees both at home and at work.

My plan is to hunt for evergreen boughs and limbs from the yard.

I filled my car with greens like arborvitae.

I don’t want to actually cut them yet for the party scheduled in early December.

Magnolia leaves are a different shape and finish evergreen branch.

Since Sug and I are going to make prototypes on Thanksgiving weekend I carefully clipped a few limbs from overgrown trees at work: spruce, boxwood, arborvitae, and magnolia.

A door spray from another Christmas season.

Anything left over will go into sprays and vases for outdoor display.

What’s growing in your yard?

Let’s Plant the Fall Color

I bought some ochre mums a few weeks ago to brighten up the porch.

These flowers from 2014 are forever gone.
These flowers from 2014 are forever gone.

I did the same thing last year with every intention of planting them once they started to fade.

The purple asters and golden mums can be planted in the yard and should come back year after year.
The purple asters and golden mums from last year should have been planted in the yard.

That didn’t happen but this year I’ve asked Charlie to plant 5 mums in a clump at the right side of the potager.

Hoping Charlie will plant five tawny mums in a clump so they’ll return next year.

Charlie doesn’t think much of plants that can’t be eaten but a little persuasion encouraged him to transplant these fall-blooming plants.

I’d like mums in this area near the potager.

Can’t wait to see what we get next year.

What perennials come back for you every year?