Wreath of the Day – College Blend

A customer in New York, a Yale graduate, sent a gift wreath this year to friends in Boston who are graduates of University of Pennsylvania and affiliated now with Boston University.  Well, University of Pennsylvania’s colors are blue and red, Yale is blue, and BU is red, so we came up with a wreath accented in red and blue.  We kept it from becoming a Fourth of July wreath by adding gold accents to the blueberries, and doubled the red bow with a lining of sheer blue ribbon.  Spectacular!


Monday, January 19 and Saturday, February 28, 11:00 am – Global Flora: The Transformation of the Ferguson Greenhouses’ Permanent Collection

Wellesley College will soon be reconstructing the five major houses of the Ferguson Greenhouses.  On Monday, January 19 and Saturday, February 28, at 11 am, hear their plans for Global Flora, the transforming of the 1920’s facility into a showcase of living beauty, highlighting plant form.  Global Flora will become a new node for interdisciplinary science research and teaching at the College, as well as an innovative example of sustainable design.  Free and open to the public. Call 781-283-3094 for more information.

Wreath of the Day – Badminton and Tennis Club

We are always happy to receive a wreath order from the Badminton and Tennis Club on Hemenway Street, and the order generally allows us to do what we like.  Our designer this year decided to create tiny shuttlecocks out of silver paper fans and glass balls, also using a polka dot ribbon and lotus pods to reflect tennis balls, and a different ribbon for the streamers, indicating the net.  Truly clever, and beautiful.


Wednesday, February 4 – Friday, February 6 – New England Grows

New England Grows 2015 will take place Wednesday through Friday, February 4 – 6 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  Learn about the latest design, technology and consumer trends from the brightest minds in the green industry today.  Discover bold new products and exchange ideas with thousands of your green industry colleagues.  Sign up now – best rates for attendance expire January 15.  Visit www.newenglandgrows.org to register, and for more information.

Wreath of the Day – Charitable Giving

The Garden Club of the Back Bay gives a number of wreath gift certificates to area not for profit organizations during the year, and one project we’re especially proud of is supporting The Blossom Fund of The Boston Committee of the GCA (www.bostoncommittee.org) with certificates for each member club.  The individual clubs raffle off their certificates to their members, and the proceeds are contributed to The Blossom Fund, which in turn awards grants to public horticultural projects in the Boston metroplex area.  Many winners return as customers after receiving wreaths such as the one shown below.


Sunday, May 24 – Sunday, May 31 – African Violet Society of America 2015 Convention and Show

AVSA’s 69th consecutive convention and show will be held May 24 – May 31, 2015, at the Holiday Inn KCI Airrport Hotel. This year’s show is entitled Violets Love Jazz, Blues and Barbecue. The Missouri African Violet Council will be hosting this convention. There are 9 States in the Council so this will be a well planned event. The Convention Facilities of the adjacent KCI Expo Center will be used for the African Violet Show, Sales and Convention. The Expo Center is huge and connected to the hotel via a covered walkway. It will be a treat to have everything all in one location in the building.

Come join us to see our African violet show consisting of many different varieties and colors. There will be an AVSA commercial vendor salesroom with vendors from different parts of the country. During the week, seminars covering all aspects of growing and showing African violets will be held. Make your plans now to be there.

A variety of scheduled tours will take place during convention week. For complete information visit http://www.avsa.org/conventions-2015.

Wreath of the Day – The Head Injury Wreath

One of the wreath chairs took a bad fall going home after wreath making, and fell into the fence in front of the French Library.  The resulting head wound took three stitches to close.   Luckily there was no lasting injury other than a very black and swollen eye. A very kind fellow decorator stayed with her at Beth Israel until midnight.  Both were back at work the next day, but the injured decorator’s next wreath took a decidedly dark and macabre turn.  Since it was for her own family, our crack quality control crew said nothing at all.


Sunday, January 11, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon – Winter Farm Exploration and Warming Stone Soup

Do you want to explore Powisset Farm in Dover in winter and then warm up with a delicious soup? Join the Trustees of Reservations’ Powisset Cooks! for a snowshoe or cross-country ski adventure (or walk if there’s no snow) around the Powisset Farm woodland trail. To warm us from the inside out we are ask participants to bring an item to add to a communal Stone Soup that we will share together at the end of our time outside. We look forward to sharing in an adventure that we will create together!

Please note that most classes include options for vegetarians and vegans. For more information about what we’ll be cooking, contact Rachel at rkaplan@ttor.org. $20 TTOR member & accompanying child, if applicable, and $30 nonmembers.

Wreath of the Day – Merry Christmas

Just one post today, wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas, surrounded by family and friends.


Wreath of the Day – Return to the Classics

The Wreath of the Day is often chosen from among our quirkier designs, because they are such statement pieces.  However, we fully decorated over 160 wreaths this year, and many are much more traditional, even stately, as the lovely wreath below demonstrates, with its red bow, gold and natural pine cones, juniper, magnolia leaves, and red glass balls.  Many may be comforted to know we can do the classics well, too!


Wednesday, January 14, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon – Woods on Fire: Ornamental Shrubs and Trees for a Fiery Fall Display

Woody plants are a low maintenance option for the home landscape. These great plants are gaining in popularity as gardeners learn how to use them to their best advantage. Consider how these plants extend the garden season until late fall. This Berkshire Botanical Garden program on Wednesday, January 14 from 10 – noon will cover ornamental aspects, varieties, cultural requirements and siting these beauties in the garden.

Elisabeth Cary is the Director of Education at the Berkshire Botanical Garden and has been gardening for over 25 years. She specializes in perennial, vegetable and mixed-border gardens. BBG members $90, nonmembers $100. Register at http://www.berkshirebotanical.org/event/passion-for-plants-study-group-woods-on-fire-ornamental-shrubs-and-trees-for-a-fiery-fall-display/?instance_id=3192.  Pictured: Staghorn sumac from www.i.telegraph.co.uk.

Wreath of the Day – Smaller is Better

As many of you know, we discontinued offering fully decorated large wreaths in 2014 due to time constraints.  Those who wished to order a large wreath (one constructed on a 16″ ring, fluffing to 31″ across) could buy one either plain or with a bow.  We lost a handful of customers, but most were content to either downsize to a standard or opt for a large wreath with a magnificent bow.  We did note, however, that many of our standard wreaths, once decorated, were actually quite substantial, and with embellishments could achieve a wingspan exceeding 27″ across, such as the beauty pictured below.


Wednesday, January 21, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm – Building the Ecological Landscape: Materials, Technology & Design

With the growth of new technologies for permeable pavement, sustainably-sourced materials, and energy-efficient lighting, today’s landscape professional faces new opportunities and new challenges. Join the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA) for this symposium on Wednesday, January 21 from 8 – 5 to explore ecological approaches to the design and construction of hardscapes. Participants in this symposium will learn how to select new and traditional materials and how to bring them together to create durable and beautiful high-performance landscapes.

Through case studies and panel discussions, the symposium will address:

How to select materials and products based on their environmental impacts across their full life-cycle.
How to incorporate new and established permeable pavements in the design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes.
How to use sustainably-sourced and recycled materials in the landscape.
How to use new energy-efficient light sources in the landscape.
How to combine sustainable technologies in an integrated design.

Presentation and panel topics include:

The “life-cycle” perspective on materials.
Permeable pavements and driveable turf — materials, application, and maintenance in New England.
Salvaged and recycled materials.
Lighting options and energy use.

The keynote presentation will feature Jesse Harris, ASLA, landscape architect at BSC Group and the project management point person throughout the Oyster Shell Park construction process in 2011 and 2012. Located along the highly visible area of the Norwalk River waterfront, Oyster Shell Park (below) is one of the Pilot Projects for the SITES Initiative. This new park is a reclaimed landfill with notable elements that include: the use of renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaic cells and wind power, shoreline and habitat restoration featuring native plants to enhance wildlife value, and utilization of recycled materials such as glass pavers for path construction. The project also incorporates bio-filtration of runoff for improved water quality. These design elements demonstrate the environmental and economic value of sustainable design practices while improving recreational value to the community. The event takes place at Montvale Plaza, 54 Montvale Avenue, Stoneham, Massachusetts. See more at: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/event/building-the-ecological-landscape-materials-technology-and-design/#sthash.zE5xJuaY.dpuf.

Wreath of the Day – Mimosas and Bloody Marys

We were surprised this year by a special delivery box from our friends at The Lenox Hotel. General Manager Dan Donahue was especially pleased with the holiday wreath he ordered and stopped by to check out our operation.  When he met the hard working volunteers he decided we needed a treat, and on Thursday, during our wrap up, along came Bloody Mary mix, lemons, celery, olives, Tabasco sauce, orange juice, and sparkling wine.  We’ve never gone out in such style!  Thank you to the Lenox.  Below is a beautiful wreath made by the decorator who so impressed Dan.


Now through August 17, 2015 – CORRESPONDENCE: The Monk’s Garden 1903 – 2013

The Gardner Museum recently commissioned Michael Van Valkenburgh to design a new four-season garden on the site of what Isabella Gardner called her “Monk’s Garden.” The redesigned Monk’s Garden, sited to the east of the historic palace, opened in September 2013 as part of the Museum’s expanded campus. CORRESPONDENCE features design process and construction drawings of the new garden, as well as communications between the design team and contractors responsible for its construction. The exhibition centers on a pair of letters between Norma Jean Calderwood Director Anne Hawley and Van Valkenburgh describing their aspirations for the new garden at the beginning of the design process. The exhibition also presents photographs that illustrate how greatly the garden has changed over the years.

Van Valkenburgh’s design of the Monk’s Garden interprets the Museum’s meandering gallery layout, and the rich colors and textures of its idiosyncratic collection, in a contemporary landscape context. While the garden is accessible (weather permitting) from both the original Museum building and Renzo Piano’s new addition, it is not the primary connection between them, freeing it to focus instead on cultivating a sense of place. The garden is given its own interior, with the aim of provoking extended quiet contemplation rather than hurried passage.

The original high brick wall of Fenway Court surrounds the garden, and the design aims to soften this enclosure through the creation of a small-scale, dreamlike woodland. Composed of approximately 60 trees including stewartia, paper bark maple, and gray birch, the groves establish a detail-rich palette of colors and textures suitable for intimate appreciation. Winding paths, paved in a striking combination of black brick and reflective mica schist, meander through the trees. Rather than intersecting, the paths playfully meet and diverge, while also gently widening in places to create nooks for garden chairs. For more information visit www.gardnermuseum.org.

Wreath of the Day – Fringed Ribbon

We acquired some quirky new ribbon styles this year from a supplier on Albany Street, Hudson’s (www.hudsonboston.com). In some cases we were a bit wary of using these bows for customers we don’t know well.  The pictured wreath, for instance, has a gold fringed bow which could look torn or damaged if you didn’t examine it closely.  However, our designers love using something unique, and the fringe here was accented with Russian statice and dried yellow flowers.IMG_1728

Monday, January 19, 6:30 pm – Whole Grains and the Mighty Chickpea

Sofra Bakery will present Whole Grains and the Mighty Chickpea on Monday, January 19 beginning at 6:30 pm at their store located at 1 Belmont Street in Cambridge. Whole grains are currently popular on the American culinary scene and in the vocabulary of home chefs. They have long been a staple in the cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean. Hailed for their nutritional value, fiber, and protein content, whole grains provide rich sustenance and can stand on their own in entrée dishes. We add to the mix one of our favorite legumes – the chickpea. Chickpeas can make appearances in so many formats: whole, ground into flour, or pureed into dips. In this class, Chef Ana Sortun will demonstrate Cauliflower Gratin with Fried Quinoa & Nigella Seeds and Pork Belly with Ribolitta & Grano. She will also feature a dish created by Sofra’s new Chef de Cuisine, Didem Hosgel: Potato Kofte with Chopped Radish Salad. To finish off the evening, Chef Ana will conclude with three different styles of Hummus – with bread, Syrian-style & “Taverna-style” with lamb. Please note that this class may end slightly later than 9:00 PM. Place your name on the waitlist at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whole-grains-and-the-mighty-chickpea-tickets-14609771219. Fee: $110.

Wreath of the Day – Happiness

Happiness is working at The First Lutheran Church of Boston.  The space is simply ideal for our purposes – a semi-sheltered outdoor space for keeping the wreaths fresh but protected in inclement weather, a large workroom with attached kitchen, and a friendly and tolerant staff who put up with our noise and commotion for 4 1/2 days. Our special gratitude and thanks go to Pastor Ingo Dutzmann, who welcomes us each year with joy and love.


Wednesday, January 7, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm – Tools and Equipment for the Management of Invasive Species in Natural Areas

Steven Manning will open the toolbox and outline examples of many effective treatments for integrated management of invasive plants in this Ecological Landscape Alliance Webinar on January 7 from 1 – 2 pm. Steve will highlight the good the bad and the ugly learned from more than 20 years of on the ground experience controlling invasive plants in the United States. This includes equipment highlights, effective and ineffective selective and non-selective control methods, the consequences of proper hiring practices, and associated costs and will cover herbicide application methods, manual, mechanical and cultural control.

Steven Manning has spent the past 24 years working on invasive species. He is founder and President of Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC). IPC was created to extend internationally its dedication to the control of invasive species utilizing a revised Integrated Pest Management approach and has successfully controlled hundreds of invasive species for a wide variety of land managers including federal, state, municipal and private landowners throughout the world. Mr. Manning also designs and implements multiple training courses and workshops worldwide with topics ranging from “Invasive Species in Ports of Entry” to “On the Ground Control Techniques.” IPC invests heavily in educational and awareness activities annually. Mr. Manning’s knowledge of environmentally and economically sound control techniques offers a unique perspective not readily found in this field. Mr. Manning is also heavily involved with local, state and international industry development projects including Volunteer Based Early Detection Networks. In 2012 IPC introduced a suite of software and web based tools dedicated to environmental needs. His 2010 publication, Miller, J.H.: Manning, S.; Enloe, S.F. 2010 A Field Guide for the Management of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests was recently published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. (http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/36915http://wiki.bugwood.org/Invplantmgmt). He is the acting President of the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council current Vice President of the Mid Atlantic Invasive Plant Council, co-chair of the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association’s Invasive Species Working Group and serves on the board of the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council.
See more at: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/event/webinar-tools-and-equipment-for-the-management-of-invasive-species-in-natural-areas/#sthash.oAx61WJU.dpuf.

Wreath of the Day – Stress Abatement

In 2013 we bit off a bit more than we could chew, and by the end of the fourth decorating day we were exhausted.  We also worried that some of the last few wreaths we created were nothing more than perfunctory, and that our volunteers might re-think their future participation in an activity that was becoming quite stressful. This year we decided not to offer the “fully decorated large wreath” option, since those orders took the most time and skill to produce.  As a result, the number of our fully decorated orders decreased to a reasonable level and each wreath was a joy to create.  We thank all our customers for their understanding, and hope that the wreaths they received more than met their expectations.  The example below is one of a set of four, with cream bows and all natural accents.


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