A quiet month for gardening

Photo by Calgary Horticultural Society

November is one of the quietest months for a Calgary gardener. If the weather is nice, there some yard maintenance activities that can be done such as ensuring the eaves are cleared of leaves, applying mulch to perennial beds after the ground freezes, and tidying the garden shed.

The sun is rising later and setting earlier in the day. This leaves plenty of time for more artistic pastimes for the gardener.

In the summer, if a gardener wants to add a bit of the garden to home decor, cut flowers can be the solution — a lovely bouquet of in season blooms is always nice. Some gardeners have an area of their gardens dedicated to cut flowers. Regular cutting of many annual flowers for bouquets such as Zinnias, Calendula, Nigella, Cosmos, encourages more blooms.

But now that it’s mid-fall, what can the gardener do? We’ll it’s a traditional time for door wreaths. And just like planning to have a cut flower garden. A gardener can plant with late season décor in mind. Throughout the year, and especially now, a collection of dried seed heads can make lovely additions to seasonal décor.

Ideally, throughout the growing season, the gardener would collect blossoms to dry and save seed heads. Some gardeners grow strawflowers. These plants produce blooms with dry straw-like petals that preserve beautifully and add a splash of colour to whatever arrangements they’re used in. Many Calgary gardeners grow Anabelle hydrangeas and double peony varieties. These full-blossomed flowers if picked just after opening and hung upside-down to dry, make beautiful additions to dried arrangements and accents in seasonal wreaths.

Grape, twig, or ribbon covered wreath bases can be accented with the dried material collected from the garden. Plants for late collection include sea holly (Eryngium), globe thistle (Echinops), and stonecrop (Sedum). These plants have very durable seed heads that remain throughout the winter, especially if it is cold and dry. The seed heads of coneflowers (Echinacea) are also quite durable.

If you grow silver wormwood (Artemesia ludoviciana), it makes a lovely silver accent. If collected before hard frosts, it can be dried bent in a curve, then used as a wreath base — naturally silver and elegant.

Fresh evergreen wreaths are commonly hung on doors as part of our holiday traditions. While many are created binding bunches of fir or spruce boughs tightly to a simple wire frame, if you want to make a fresh wreath last a little longer, use a three-dimensional florist’s wreath frame stuffed with bunches of bound moist moss.

The stems of the evergreens are stuffed into the moss before being secured to the frame.

The evergreen wreath can also be decorated with foraged garden accents. If you have a spruce or pine tree, the cones are lovely seasonal additions which never fade. If you’re especially crafty and enjoy a few faux touches, adding a little white paint and glitter to the cones will provide snow- or frost-like touches.

Material from garden shrubs can also be used in the wreaths. Cutting stems of dogwoods with red, gold or green stems will add a bit of colour. Branches with leaves that failed to fall, will add texture as well as colour. Don’t forget about berries! Rose hips and mountain ash berries will add a splash of red to an arrangement.

So, if you’re displaying a door wreath this year, consider making one yourself from material foraged from the garden. If you don’t have enough material to create a full wreath, use a purchased based and accent it with garden treasures.

Next year, consider adding plants that have durable seed heads so that you have that décor option. It’s the quiet season, time to work on your garden plan and dream about what you’ll be planting next year!

If you would like to learn more about gardening, visit the Calgary Horticultural Society website at calhort.org.