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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    Consider it Ground Zero for Scandinavian Christmas decor. Every year Zetas Tradgard owners Richard and Victoria Skoglund transform the Stockholm garden shop into "a green, glittering room" for the holiday season.

    It takes a crew an entire week to set up displays of hand-tied wreaths, hyacinth and amaryllis bulbs, and twinkly lights:

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Lovely Life.

    To kick off the holiday season, in November the Skoglunds invited guests to a pre-Advent breakfast in the garden.

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm Sweden garden shop boxwood topiary ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Lovely Life.

    Potted topiaries in glazed planters have a holiday air.

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop Christmas boughs; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Lovely Life.

    Buy the bough by the bough.

    Zetas Tradgard garden shop Stockholm ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    Stacks of wreaths and hellebores await holiday shoppers.

    Zetas advent Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Zetas.

    Christmas comes to a corner of the shop.

    Christmas tree candle holders; Gardenista

    Above: Christmas tree Candle Holders made of copper are 98 KR apiece.

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    A chandelier of evergreens is suspended from the ceiling.

    Zetas bird feeder ; Gardenista

    Above: A round metal Bird Feeder that holds apples is 120 SEK.

    Zetas Tradgard Advent gardenista

    Above: Potted helleborus, hyacinths, and moss balls.

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    Rows of forced hyacinth bulbs are getting ready to bloom.

    Zetas Tradgard Stockholm garden shop; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Lovely Life

    Christmas cactus, so to speak.

    Zetas Tradgard garden shop Stockholm ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    The decor spills from the shop to the walkway outdoors.

    We recently visited Stockholm's Most Beautiful Garden Center in summertime.

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    Devise plan for festive holiday lights, check. Unearth box of tangled mass of string lights from closet, check. Test outdoor outlet GFCI to be sure still working. What? I didn't know I had to do that—is there anything else I forgot?

    Turns out there probably is. Here is a list of safety essentials for outdoor holiday lighting that should be on every list. 

    Outdoor Christmas holiday lights Sweden ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Donal Skehan.  

    Is there a limit to the number of strings you safely can connect? 

    San Francisco's Christmas Light Pros advise a maximum (regardless of the number of strings) of 600 incandescent mini lights plugged into a single outlet.

    Standards from the safety experts at Illinois-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL) state that a maximum of 210 watts can be connected when using 22-gauge wire, and a maximum of 420 watts can be connected when using 20-gauge wiring. On average, 100 incandescent bulb string requires 40 watts of power. "So, always check the instructions in case the fuses on your strands are built for more or less," SF Christmas Light Pros say. 

    Outdoor Twinkle Lights from Terrain, Gardenista  

    Above: A 20-foot string of Indoor/Outdoor Twinkle Lights is UL-approved for outdoor use; $32 from Terrain.

    What lights are safe to use outdoors?

    Any lighting you plan to use outside must safely stand up to the elements. Look for the UL outdoor rating on the package.

    Water and electricity do not mix. Limit your holiday lights to those that are UL-rated for the outdoors (they can also be used indoors). Don't make the mistake of thinking that any plastic-coated wire also is outdoor friendly. All the parts of the lights need to be damp- and temperature-proof.

    Outdoor Holiday Light at Michelle's House, Gardenista

    Above: Last year, for the first time in a decade, Gardenista editor in chief Michelle created a holiday light display using many, many light strings (thankfully, not all connected). Photograph by John Merkl for Gardenista.

    Can all extension cords be used outside? 

    No. Only extension cords UL-rated for outdoors should be used as they are made with materials that can withstand exposure to the elements. Indoor cords can short out if they get wet, potentially causing damage to your outlets and lights. Also, extension cords have power limits. Be sure to match your lights' power needs (amperage) with the amperage rating of extension cords.

    Heavy Duty Outdoor Green Extension Cord, Gardenista

    Above: A bit less obvious than my bright orange cord, the green Master Electrician Heavy Duty 25-Foot Outdoor Extension Cord is $13.74 at Amazon.

    How do I make sure my outdoor electrical outlet is safe and won't overheat or short out?

    Outdoor electrical outlets are required to have GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) to protect from electrocution. This causes an automatic turnoff if there is any change in the electrical flow. Before starting your holiday lighting installation, be sure to test your GFCIs to be sure they are working. The Electrical Safety Foundation has a simple GFCI Test Tutorial. Also don't overload your outlet (see below).

    Ice Lantern Kit, Gardenista

    Above: Avoid electricity all together by lighting the way for your holiday guests with votive filled ice lanterns. The Ice Lantern Kit is $58 at Terrain.

    How many lights can I plug into my outdoor outlet? 

    Eager to load up that one outdoor outlet with multiple plug adaptors? Think again. Outlets have their limits in terms of power, and overloading can result in overheating that can cause fire.

    Most household outlets, whether indoors or out, are rated for 15 or 20 amps, which supports a maximum of 1800 watts and 2400 watts respectively. Electricians, however, advise never going above 80 percent of capacity, bringing the recommended maximum wattage to 1440 for a 15-amp circuit and 1920 for a 20-amp circuit. And, be warned, some circuits support more than one outlet. How to find out? You can test which outlets are on each circuit by turning off circuit switches, and then turn on each, one at a time. When doing so, check to see which outlets have power running. Each outlet with power is being operated by that same circuit.

    Outdoor Holiday LIghts and Extension Cords, Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by John Merkl for Gardenista.

    Any other safety tips to keep in mind?

    • Make sure to replace any broken bulbs before starting.
    • Keep connections off the ground. 
    • Fasten outdoor lights securely to protect them, and the people around, from wind damage. San Francisco Christmas Light Pros recommend using light duty staples and gutter clips (available in many sizes and configurations).

    Holiday Lights on Roof Edge, Gardenista  

    Above: Gutter clips (and, in a pinch, document binder clips) are a good way to attach light strings. Photograph via Terrain.

    • When fastening light strings, be sure to avoid puncturing the cords, which can damage the insulation and compromise the wet-rated performance.
    • Feeding power from inside? Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors or windows, which could damage the cord’s insulation.

    Terrain Outdoor GLobe Lights, Gardenista

    Above: Outdoor Globe Lights add a festive note not limited to the holidays. Photograph via Terrain.

    Hanging lights outdoors this weekend? Here's more help:

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    Whether outfitting a potting shed, a work bag, or one's self, a well-made tool or accessory lifts a gardener's spirits in cold weather. For the gardener on your holiday shopping list, here are stylish and sturdy ideas for under $100:

    French watering bells terra cotta ; Gardenista

    Above: Made of terra cotta, French Watering Bells absorb moisture when immersed in water and then deliver it as a gentle sprinkle to delicated seedlings; $58 from Detroit Garden Works.

    Copper plant markers ; Gardenista

    Above: A set of ten Copper Plant Markers comes with a grease pencil so you can change your mind; $18 from Terrain.

    Wooden Bee Houses ; Gardenista

    Above: Tiny wooden bee houses with steel roofs can be mounted on a garden shed or against a fence to make pollinators feel at home; a set of three Bee Homes is £22 from Rowen & Wren.

    Piet Oudolf Hummelo book ; Gardenista

    Above: To celebrate Dutch master plantsman Piet Oudolf's 70th birthday this year, the Monacelli Press published Hummelo: A Journey Through a Plantsman's Life, the story of his private garden; it's filled with beautiful photos of his hazy, romantic drifts of flowers and is $32.75 at Amazon.

    Ben Wolff white clay footed herb pot; Gardenista  

    Above: Photograph via GRDN.

    Connecticut potter Ben Wolff's White Clay Footed Herb Pots come in four sizes, at prices ranging from $10 to $50 apiece. They also are available seasonally at GRDN in Brooklyn, where they are currently out of stock.

    paperwhite-bulbs-in-the-window ; Gardenista

    Above: Buy paperwhite bulbs to force indoors; 24 bulbs of white Ariel Paperwhite are $39 from White Flower Farm.

    Gift Guide Garden Hand Tools from Dewit ; Gardenista

    Above: You can tell from looking at this classic trio of hand tools that the founder of family-run DeWit Tools was a blacksmith. The Dutch company's classic set of garden hand tools— including a trowel, fork, and cultivator—cover all the basics. No matter whether you're shopping for a gift for an experienced gardener or an amateur, a 3-Piece Hand Forged Dutch Gardening Tool Set will last a lifetime; $98 from The Line.

    gifts-for-potting-shed-funnel-garden-trading-gardenista.

    Above: a Galvanised Funnel With String will dispense tangle-free twine every time. Hang it on a wall in a potting shed (or in a kitchen, for that matter). It is £8 from Garden Trading.

    leather garden gloves; Gardenista

    Above: A dark-colored pair of Deerskin Work & Garden Gloves won't show evidence of the work. And in cold weather, the leather will stay soft and flexible, molding to your hands. The gloves have an elastic wristband to keep out the cold and are available in sizes to fit both women and men; $45 from Kaufmann Mercantile.

    pocket hand warmer ; Gardenista

    Above: A highly polished chrome Pocket Hand Warmer has a nice weight and gives off encouraging heat while one shovels snow or prunes trees in winter; $20 from Guideboat.

    For more holiday gift ideas, see:

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    San Francisco, we hope to see you this weekend at our annual Remodelista Holiday Market! It's this Saturday and Sunday—yes, we've doubled our days—and 45 of our favorite California maker-designers and shopkeepers will be showing their wares. Come meet the Remodelista team. Here are the details, plus a preview.

    Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13, the Remodelista Market will be in the factory space at Heath Ceramics at 2900 18th St. in the Mission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. (Note the different hours each day.) 


    Above: Remodelista-selected housewares vendors, tabletop designers, ceramicists, weavers, jewelers, perfumers, natural beauty product specialists, and clothing designers will be at the market, including (clockwise from top left):

    In Fiore 

    Kathleen Whitaker

    Julia Turner

    Rough Linen

    Alice Tacheny

    Heritage Artifacts

    Linda Fahey Ceramics

    Ambatalia

    Anaïse

    Sarah Kersten 

    There's also irresistible kids' clothes. Go to the Remodelista San Francisco Market for a full list of vendors.

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    The Remodelista editors kicked off the holiday cocktail season with a round of relaxed parties this week. They dropped in on a glamorous London kitchen (chandelier included) and shopped for holiday gifts for the mix masters in their lives:

    Carry on cocktail kit ; Gardenista

    Above: Julie goes holiday shopping for the cocktail connoisseur in this week's Gift Guide.

    O'Keefe Merritt stove 1948; Gardenista

    Above: A 1948 O'Keefe & Merritt stove survived the remodel; see more of this San Francisco Victorian house in Kitchen of the Week.

    marble bar sink ; Gardenista

    Above: Behold, the beautiful bar sink. See more in this week's Cocktail Culture Roundup post.

    beautiful switch plate ; Gardenista

    Above: Glamorous Switches/Plate Covers take center stage in this week's 10 Easy Pieces post.

    Rose Uniacke kitchen London; Gardenista

    Above: Refined meets rustic in a London kitchen designed by Rose Uniacke; you can Steal This Look (chandelier included).

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    We're coveting a new collection of sturdy copper gardening tools that are becoming staples in many of our favorite garden shops (as well as at this year's Chelsea Flower Show). 

    Here's the story behind the Melbourne-based Grafa collection, via The Garden Edit, which sent photographer Marnie Hawson to the home studio of company founder Travis Blandford:

    Grafa copper garden hand tools ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Marnie Hawson via The Garden Edit.

    Toolmaker Travis Blandford experimented with recycled lengths of copper plumbing to create prototypes for the Grafa line of hand tools, which includes a hand hoe, scoop, fork, bulb planter, trowel, and tube trowel. 

    "The reason why the tools look the way they do is because I had to find a way to design without the use of expensive machinery," Blandford told The Garden Edit. "The single piece copper tube tools were there from the beginning, while the timber handled range came later, as the processes became more sophisticated."

    Grafa copper garden fork ; Gardenista

    Above: A handmade Forca Garden Fork has a bronze head, attached to the wooden handle with a copper ring; $89 AU from Grafa and in the UK the Forca Garden Fork is £34.50 from The Garden Edit.

    For US shoppers, the Copper Garden Fork is available from Rodale's, where it is currently on sale (marked down 25 percent from $85) for $63.75.

    Grafa garden tools; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Marnie Hawson via The Garden Edit

    The Grafa collection includes an all-metal tube trowel as well as hardwood-handled copper tools.

    Grafa copper hand hoe ; Gardenista

    Above: A Grafa Copper Hand Hoe is £37.50 at The Garden Edit and for US shoppers a Copper Garden Hoe is on sale for $60 from Rodale's.

    grafa-snail-coil-snoil-gardenista

    Above: Photograph via The Big Design Market.

    Meet the snoil. Coming in 2016, it's a copper coil to repel snails in the garden and the newest product the Grafa team is developing.

    Copper garden hand tools Grafa Australia ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via The Garden Edit.

    For UK shoppers, a Grafa Hand Hoe is £37.50 and a Grafa Reclaim Trowel is £37.50 at The Garden Edit.

    Harriet Devlin and Travis Blandford Grafa ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via The Design Files.

    Harriet Devlin and Travis Blandford at home in their garden in Melbourne.

    "There are two of us now. My partner Harriet has become more involved over the last year, she has a background in interior design," says Blandford.

    Shopping for garden tools? Browse some of our favorite shops:

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    Are you in San Francisco this weekend? If so, come see us for two days this weekend at our Remodelista Market at Heath Ceramics in the Mission. We'll be there from 10 am to 5 pm today and from 11 am to 3 pm tomorrow with more than 40 of our favorite local artisans and craftspeople. We promise a one-stop holiday shop. 

    In the meantime, here are a few things that caught our attention this week. 

    garden-and-gun-orchids-gardenista-obsessions

    Above: Rare heirloom orchids tucked away in a Virginia greenhouse. Photo by Patricia Lyons.

    The horticult jade wreath ; Gardenista

    Above: We love this succulent wreath made out of jade cuttings. Photo via The Horticult. 

    • An autumn visit to one of our favorite farms in upstate New York.  
    • Is this the end of the banana?

    sunset-aglow-gardenista-current-obsessions

    Above: Twinkling tumbleweeds and six other ideas for outdoor holiday lights. Photo by Thomas J. Story. 

    Instagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

    pith-and-vigor-instagram-gardenista

    Above: The instagram feed of Rochelle Greayer, Boston-based creator of PITH+VIGOR, is all color and whimsy (@pithandvigor).  

    jungalow-style-pinterest-gardenista-obsessions

    Above: We're keen on how plants take center stage on Justina Blakeney's Jungalow Style board. 

    For more Gardenista, browse through our latest issue Holidays on Ice

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    This week in the world of gardening, climate change threatens the staple crops of Provence, GOOD magazine visits an almost zero-waste town in Japan, and bees get all the pollinator credit—but they don't do all the work. 

    Researchers Aim for 'Bioreceptive' Buildings

    Ann Demeulemeester Store | Gardenista Design News

    Above: Ann Demeulemeester store in Seoul via Retail Design Blog

    The BiotA Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London is researching ways to make building materials more "bioreceptive," or actively fostering growth of organisms like lichen and moss. In the big picture, the lab wants to encourage architects to think of buildings as "hosts" for any number of living organisms. Lab director Marcos Cruz says that will require a shift in thinking: "We admire mosses growing on old buildings—we identify them with our romantic past—but we don't like them on contemporary buildings because we see them as pathology." Read it at the Atlantic.  

    Bees Don't Do All the Pollinating Work

    Beetle Pollinator | Gardenista Design News

    Above: A rose chafer beetle in Wallingford, UK via Urban Pollinators.  

    Ecologists at the University of Queensland reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that honeybees get all the credit but aren't the only ones doing the pollination work. The study notes that flies are likely the second largest group of crop pollinators in the world, and that butterflies, moths, beetles, ants, and wasps pollinate as well. In the crops studied, non-bee pollinators accounted for 40 percent of pollinator flower visits, while some crops did not rely on honeybees at all. Listen to the report at Scientific American.  

    Climate Change Threatens Provence Olives, Lavender

    Olives in Provence | Gardenista Design News

    Above: An olive mill worker in southern France adds olives to a crusher for oil. Photo via National Geographic. 

    In the midst of climate talks in Paris this week, National Geographic reports that the famed luxury crops of France's Provence region—olives, lavender, truffles, and wine grapes—are under threat from climate change. Last year alone, olive production fell 17 percent due to climate-related bacterial infections, low rain, high temperatures, and fruit fly infestations. "We're Provence," said one ecology professor at Aix-Marseille University. "Without these things, we're not Provence." Read it at National Geographic

    NASA Tests Sustainable Building Technologies

    NASA Sustainability Base | Gardenista Design News

    Above: Sustainability Base in California's Silicon Valley. Photo via NPR. 

    Sustainability Base at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California is a test center for sustainable building technologies including electricity sourced from fuel cells and solar panels, an exterior steel skeleton for earthquake safety, and a closed loop water system for toilets. The program is testing technologies in part to help meet a US mandate that all new federal buildings have no reliance on fossil fuel energy by 2030. Read it at NPR

    By 2020, a Zero-Waste Town in Japan

    Japanese Waste-Free Town | Gardenista Design News

    Above: Photo of Kamikatsu, Japan via the Guardian.  

    GOOD magazine profiles Kamikatsu, Japan, a town of 1,700 people with one of the most rigorous recycling programs in the world. Residents sort trash into 34 different categories, 80 percent of which is destined to be recycled, reused, or composted. The town has pledged to send nothing to landfills by 2020. Watch the video report at GOOD.  

    More from this week: 

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    We're celebrating the holiday season this week with visits to gardens and greenhouses around the world. Join us:

    Table of Contents: Holidays Abroad; Gardenista

    Above: Join us on our Hike of the Week: A Winter Wonderland in Maine.

    Monday

    DIY Grow an Oak Tree from Acorn; Gardenista

    Above: This winter, we're foraging for acorns to sprout oak trees indoors. Follow this week's easy step-by-step DIY to do the same.

    swedish greenhouse farmhouse ; Gardenista

    Above: "Cold weather never seems to halt the Swedes," says Meredith, who visits a modern farmhouse with a greenhouse for year-round crops in this week's Architect Visit.

    Tuesday

    forced bulbs daffodils narcissus ; Gardenista

    Above: For forced bulbs, Scandinavian style, see our favorite holiday decor ideas in this week's Roundup post.

    Wednesday

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: This week's Before & After garden belongs to a Brooklyn townhouse where designer Lindsey Taylor created a low-maintenance landscape for a couple who love to entertain.

    Thursday

    backyard-ice-skating-rink-gardenista

    Above: Borrowed from Canada: shortcuts to transforming a backyard into a glassy ice skating rink. See our tips in this week's Hardscaping 101 post.

    Friday

    Bavaria Germany Das Kranzbach hotel ; Gardenista

    Above: Christmas in Bavaria; we head to a snowy Alpine retreat in this week's Hotel Visit.

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    Cold weather never seems to stop the Swedes. A case in point: Uppgrenna Naturhus, a conference space, spa, and cafe enveloped in a massive, modern greenhouse.

    Located in Sweden's southern half between Stockholm and Gothenburg, Naturhus makes use of a closed-loop waste system to grow fruits and vegetables rear-round, while taking it off the municipal waste grid. The building is designed by Tailor Made Arkitekter and principal Fredrik Olson, a specialist in livable greenhouse spaces..

    Photography by Ulf Celander via Arch Daily. 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: To make way for the new structure, the architects demolished an existing barn on the site painted in the traditional "falu" red of Swedish farmhouses. They recreated the red color on the new structure and added white shutters in a nod to traditional Swedish farmhouse style. 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: The "Naturhus" concept, developed by Swedish architect Bengt Warne in the 1970s, is a core living area surrounded by a shell of glass, effectively making a live-in greenhouse. At Uppgrenna Naturhus, the indoor climate approximates that of Northern Italy, allowing plants to be grown year-round for both beauty and utility while reducing needs for indoor heating.  

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Inside, the space is divided into several green-themed zones, including a Mediterranean zone, a "rainforest" for spa treatments, a lemon grove, and an "Orient" lounge. Here, a cafe space in the Mediterranean growing zone.  

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: The plants of the Mediterranean garden play an important role in the building's closed-loop wastewater treatment system. Here, wine grapes, apricots, melon, tomato, and peaches provide food for the center's use. "It becomes very clear why you should not emit pollutants in the environment," say the architects, because "it turns back into your own recycling system." 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Here, the "Orient" loft located above the conference rooms functions as a great hall for events. 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Depending on the configuration, the "Orient" room hosts parties, lectures, and concerts under the stars.

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Naturhus offers expansive views of Lake Vättern and its island Visingsö, and is dotted with a few unsheltered outdoor terraces to take in views when the weather permits. 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Sited on a gentle slope, the 520-square-meter structure is partly submerged underground. 

    Uppgränna Nature House | Gardenista

    Above: Tailor Made Architects has a consulting arm called Green House Living, specialists in livable greenhouse spaces who hope to develop many more in the future.

    More green spaces from Scandinavia: 

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

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    Here's an entirely different sort of holiday tree: an oak sapling sprouted from a foraged acorn.

    We spotted the clever idea via Swedish stylist Marie Delice Karlsson's blog Min Lilla Veranda, where a tiny tabletop forest grows in tall glass bottles.

    Read on for step-by-step DIY instructions and a few of our favorite vases for acorns:

    DIY Grow an Oak Tree from Acorn; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Min Lilla Veranda.

    Tall, narrow-necked bottles make ideal vases to support the acorns and to allow growth of oak saplings' long taproots.

    acorns oak tree ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Trackers Earth.

    Early December is the best time to collect hardy acorns that fall in late autumn. Inspect acorns and discard any that have worm holes, are soft, or have moldy caps. Remove caps from the rest and submerge acorns in a bowl of water to check viability. Discard floaters because they won't sprout.

    DIY sprout acorn in water ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sotsur.

    To encourage acorns to sprout, keep them moist or in a bowl of water. After three to six weeks, they will start to sprout and can be placed in a bottle or vase of water with the root submerged.

    Estrid Ericson acorn vase; Gardenista

    Above: Mimicking the shape of an acorn, a round Acorn Vase by designer Estrid Ericson is 160 SEK.

    Floating Forest series of vases; Gardenista

    Above: Inspired by Ericson, designer Michael Anastassiades has created a Floating Forest Series of vases specially for acorns. Components include a polished brass Cone and Disk (£40 apiece) designed to suspend an acorn above the surface of the water in a vase.

    For more of our favorite vases, see:

    Subscribe to Gardenista daily newsletter ; Gardenista

    More Stories from Gardenista


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    Nothing is more luxurious than spring flowers blooming in winter. And no one understands this better than Scandinavian gardeners, who fill their rooms with fragrant blooming bulbs—including hyacinths and paperwhites—at Christmastime. Here are 13 beautiful case studies to help you recreate the look:

    N.B.: It's the end of the season to buy spring-blooming bulbs. But if you want to force your own, we've sleuthed a few sources where hyacinth, tulip, paperwhite, and amaryllis bulbs are still in stock. See below for shops and prices.

      White muscari forced bulbs Scandinavian style ; Gardenista

    Above: White muscari bulbs in bloom. Photograph via Fröken Knopp.

    Hyacinths

    forced hyacinth bulbs ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    You can force bulbs to bloom by putting them in dirt or in water. All the nutrients they need to bloom are stored in the bulb, so all tiy really need to do is provide a sunny, warm spot to encourage them.

    forced hyacinth bulbs ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mariaemb.

    Hyacinths are an ideal bulb to force because they're relatively diminutive in size. Short, stubby stems won't flop over.

    forced hyacinth bulbs on a window sill ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Constanḉa Cabral via Flickr.

    If you force bulbs in a vase, make sure the water level is high enough to reach the roots but lower than the base of the bulb (so the bulb doesn't rot).

    forced bulbs hyacinths ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Weekday Carnival.

    You can create a mini open-air container garden by interplanting bulbs with other low growers. Mixing textures makes the bulbs' leaves look even more velvety.

      forced hyacinth bulbs ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Weekday Carnival.

    Forced bulbs look so full of promise when the leaves shoot out from the papery brown base.

    forced bulbs Scandinavian style Christmas ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Vintage House.

    For a tabletop arrangement, put forced bulbs in a low wooden bowl and cover their bases in a carpet of green moss.

    Forced hyacinth bulbs ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Holmsunds Blommor.

    Wrapped in moss and wire, hyacinth bulbs look like tabletop pets.

    Tulips

    Gardening 101: How to Force Tulips Bulbs l Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    To force tulips, push the bulbs into the surface of moist soil.

    forced bulbs hyacinths and tulips ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

    To get bulbs to bloom in winter, you have to persuade them it's spring. Put them in a paper bag in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator for eight weeks before bringing them out into a warm, sunny room to bloom.

    Paperwhites

    Forced bulbs paperwhites for winter ; Gardenista

    Above: Pots of paperwhite bulbs in a row at Garbo Interiors in Stockholm.

    winter forced bulbs paperwhites ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by John Merkl for Gardenista.

    Amaryllis

      Forced amaryllis bulbs ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Emil Evans.

    Amaryllis bulbs, a Christmastime tradition, are widely available in the US. See sources below.

    Where to buy bulbs:

    • Hyacinths. A package of 15 light blue, fragrant Delft Blue Hyacinth bulbs is $9.18 (a 60 percent discount off regular prices) at Holland Bulb Farms.
    • Tulips. Early-blooming single tulips force well indoors; a 12-bulb bag of Purple Prince tulips is $3.98 (a 50 percent discount off regular prices) at Holland Bulb Farms.
    • Paperwhites. Narcissus Paperwhite 'Nir' bulbs are $3.32 for five bulbs or $14.12 for 25 (50 percent discount off regular prices) and available until they sell out at Brent and Becky's Bulbs.
    • Amaryllis. Given a special treatment to make them bloom by Christmas, Amaryllis Alfresco bulbs will produce a profusion of white flowers; $17 apiece at White Flower Farm.

    For more Scandi-style blooming bulbs, see Shopper's Diary: Garbo Interiors of Stockholm.

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    Maybe you do it for the scent of piney, aromatic evergreens. Or because you want to create a winter woodland indoors. Your motive is your business.

    We agree with the impulse. There's nothing more festive in December than draping greenery across a mantel, over a doorway, or down the center of the holiday table. Here are 10 sources for freshly cut garlands and boughs:

    Evergreen roping garland Christmas holiday ; Gardenista

    Above: Fresh pine roping. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Above: Michigan-based Wilson Evergreens delivers via Fed Ex ground shipping three varieties of freshly cut garlands from the state's northern forests. Each garland of Cedar Pine ($55), White Pine ($42), or Balsam ($38) is 18 feet long.

    garland noble fir mix ; Gardenista

    Above: A 25-foot length of Noble Fir Mix Garland is $148 from Terrain.

    fresh privet berry garland ; Gardenista

    Above: Alexa made a moody holiday garland using boughs of fresh privet with dark berries (which she found at the corner florist). You can use her technique with any kind of bough that's available from the florist; for step-by-step instructions, see DIY Privet Garland.

      Fresh birch bough garland Christmas ; Gardenista

    Above: Recreate the look of Martha Stewart's Birch Bough Door Garland (for step-by-step insructions, see Martha Stewart) with a mixture of fresh Fresh Evergreen Boughs. A 3-branch bundle is $45 from The City Loft via Etsy.

      Fresh privet pistachio herb garland ; Gardenista

    Above: Designed by The FloraCultural Society in Oakland, CA, a 42-inch-long Garland is $50.

    fresh-evergreen-christmas-garland-bay-gardenista

    Above: Woven with wire to make it easy to drape over mantels or around railings, an aromatic Bay Leaf Garland comes in two lengths, 6 and 12 feet. As the garland's leaves dry, you can use them in cooking; $59.95 or $99.95, depending on length, from Williams-Sonoma.

      Fresh holly boughs Christmas tabletop ; Gardenista

    Above: Bloggers Mary and Tim Vidra of 17 Apart created an evergreen Christmas table runner with holly boughs cut from the garden. To recreate the look, a 24-inch box of fresh Christmas Holly is $24.99 from Mistletoe.

    Boxwood Garland Christmas ; Gardenista

    Above: With rounded, glossy leaves, a 4-foot-long swag of Boxwood Garland looks velvety on a mantel; $59.95 Jackson & Perkins.

    Freshly cut aromatic evergreen boughs Christmas ; Gardenista

    Above: A 5-pound shipment of aromatic, freshly cut Evergreen Boughs to lay across a mantel is $23.95 from Vermont Evergreens.

    Fresh everygreen garland magnolia eucalyptus berry ; Gardenista

    Above: A 10-foot-long Fresh Seeded Magnolia And Berry Garland is made of a mix of Southern magnolia, eucalyptus seeds, and toyon berries and is $168 from Terrain.

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    Says photographer Paolo Fusco: "Hardly anything is open 24 hours in Rome: a few bars, a few stores, self service gas stations and flower kiosks, a lot of flower kiosks. You can find them everywhere in the city and they never close."

    Fusco wanders on foot through the city "in search of these islands of light and flowers." Let's tag along:

    Photography by Paolo Fusco.

    Rome flower stall all night florist ; Gardenista

    Above: Fusco's Fiori 24h photos recently were exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina in Serbia. Read more about the exhibit at Naturae Project.

    ome-flower-stall-night-florist-paolo-fusco-gardenista

    Above: "Why these kiosks stay open 24 hours remains a mystery," says Fusco, who discovered them "mostly distributed in peripheral areas of the city." 

    Rome flower stall all night florist ; Gardenista

    Above: Most nights, "almost nobody stops to buy flowers," says Fusco.

    ome-flower-stall-night-florist-paolo-fusco-gardenista

    Above: "The night florists are all immigrants who spend the night taking care of the plants and sleeping on their chairs or on the floor," says Fusco.

    ome-flower-stall-night-florist-paolo-fusco-gardenista

    Above: "They seem like sentinels in the quiet Roman night, small lighthouses populated by half-asleep immigrant workers," says Fusco. 

    ome-flower-stall-night-florist-paolo-fusco-gardenista

    Above: Fusco, whose work is dedicated to exploring the urbanized culture of Rome, is currently working on another photographic project to document city life.

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    Does this sound familiar? A couple buy and remodel a Brooklyn townhouse, then look out through their new floor-to-ceiling windows and, noticing the wreck of a garden, request a budget-friendly overhaul. This is the part of the story where garden designer (and Gardenista contributor) Lindsey Taylor comes in.

    She arrived on the scene to find faux stone pavers, a useless grass patch, and a perimeter planting bed that had a bad curve with fake Belgium block. The clients wanted "a simple palette for non-gardeners who like to entertain," Lindsey says.

    Taking design cues from the rear facade created by Brooklyn-based Bangia Agostinho Architecture and the calm interior spaces by designer Suzanne Shaker, Taylor modernized the hardscaping and created inviting spaces for dining and lounging.  "We worked as a team so everything would feel coherent, indoors and out," Lindsey says.

    Photography by Pia Ulin via Bangia Agostinho Architecture except where noted.

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: The new garden is a tranquil space, made to feel bigger with oversized bluestone pavers and generous planting beds edged by retaining walls capped with bluestone (for extra seating). "I worked with the lines of the existing raised garden in the back but straightened its corners to update it and make it feel more elegant and modern," says Lindsey.

    Visible at right is a Balinese chaise the clients had purchased on a trip to Bali and which still was en route, being shipped in a container, when Lindsey first saw the garden. "They were a little concerned when they told me it was coming, wondering if its style and size would work with the garden," says Lindsey. "But when I saw it, I thought it was totally fantastic, and that it was a great organic sculptural element to break the cleaner lines. It softens the space, provides a surprising element, and is also very comfortable."

    Before

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Conscious of the clients' budget, Taylor analyzed the existing garden to see "what was there that could remain, what we could work with," she says. "Often we're too quick to eliminate everything."

    Some things had to go: the faux stone pavers, the grass patch, and the fake Belgian block. But Taylor decided to keep the bamboo fence at the rear of the garden "because it's somewhat attractive and it helps keep the garden from looking like a boxed-in space and the lower height, allows the owners to take advantage of the borrowed view of another garden just beyond the fence line."

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Remodel in progress; on the garden level of the house is a separate apartment rented to tenants. 

    After

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Lightweight fiberglass boxes planted with Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' for soft screening provide privacy for both tenants and landlords.  

    brooklyn townhouse garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Lindsey and designer Suzanne Shaker decided to paint a red exterior brick wall the same shade of white as the interior walls in the kitchen to visually connect the two adjacent spaces.

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Lindsey Taylor.

    The architects designed the balcony and railing; a Fermob wire chair was sourced from GRDN in Brooklyn.

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: The dining table and benches are faux concrete, from Chicago-based Zachary A. Design.

    brooklyn townhouse garden ; Gardenista

    Above: Lindsey cut a pocket in the bluestone patio to create space for a Japanese stewartia tree, underplanted with lavender and boxwood. "Stewartias tend to be quite variable in their shape," she says. "I spotted this one at Gowanus Nursery and fell in love with it for its very tight upright form, a perfect form for the garden, providing a divide between dining and outdoor grilling area."

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Cornus kousa 'Milky Way', a dogwood tree with snowy white flowers, anchors a back corner of the garden. On the fence in the background is a New Dawn climbing rose.

    brooklyn-prospect-townhouse-garden-planting-bed-gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Lindsey Taylor.

    The cedar fence is unstained; it will weather to a soft gray and then be sealed. "The back of the house was dark, and the garden is a hot space, very sunny. So we left the fence alone instead of staining it to keep the garden from feeling too hot and dark," says Lindsey.

    Space between the horizontal slats is good for circulation. "There is a problem with mosquitos in Brooklyn, so we wanted a lot of good air flow and its better for the health fo the plants," says Lindsey.

    For more of our favorite Brooklyn townhouse gardens, see:

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    Using scraps from a Christmas tree lot, you can make a miniature forest. We spotted the DIY project via Say Yes and are running out now to get refills for our glue gun.

    Photography by Liz Stanley via Say Yes.

    DIY miniature Christmas trees from scraps ; Gardenista

    Above: Scraps from live Christmas trees make a miniature forest just like what you'd buy in a hobby store—except this one smells like evergreens.

    DIY miniature Christmas trees from scraps ; Gardenista

    Above: You need a glue gun and scrap wood with holes to make bases for the trees.

    DIY miniature Christmas trees from scraps ; Gardenista

    Above: For step-by-step instructions, see Say Yes.

    DIY miniature Christmas trees from scraps ; Gardenista

    Above: Next year, scrap wood reindeer?

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    My favorite arrangements to make for the holidays are those inspired by my natural surroundings. What better way than to take a walk in the woods, on the beach, in the mountains, finding unlikely elements for a wild, seasonal arrangement? When making a wild and foraged arrangement, I tend to choose a foliage that can serve as a base, and help guide the feel of the arrangement. 

    Photographs by Sophia Moreno-Bunge.

     an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: This year, I decided to use castor clippings as my base, since they grow rampantly all along the Pacific Coast Highway in California where I find myself for the holidays. I love the star-like shapes of the leaves, and their surreal size. I also decided to use one of my favorites, foraged bottle brush—a tree that screams California Christmas to me, because of its luscious red color.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: Star-shaped castor leaves.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: Bright red bottle brush. With castor and bottle brush on my mind, I took a trip to the downtown Los Angeles Flower Market in search of a few more "ingredients" for my holiday arrangement.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: At the market I chose striped red and white amaryllis, a beautiful bundle of pine (whose bunch shapes are incredible) and some wild rose hip branches. 

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: All of the ingredients. In addition to your flowers and greenery, you'll also need a large vase, preferably with a tapered opening to keep your stems from spilling out, and a pair of clippers.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: To begin, I fill the vase with water and add my castor and pine base, creating an architectural shape. The beauty of this sort of arrangement is that you can supplement with your own floral materials, and use whatever you have handy as your foliage base. Make sure you cut your stems at a diagonal, and leave each stem as long as your vase will allow so they reach the bottom of the vase and can drink as much water as possible (you can measure the stem up to the vase before you cut it!).

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: I added a cascade of bottle brush on one side of my arrangement, accentuating its natural shape.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: Next I added rose hip branches. And last, three stems of amaryllis (or your own floral choice). Amazingly, the amaryllis buds will continue to bloom over the next few says, filling out the arrangement even more.

    an unexpected holiday arrangement from sophia moreno-bunge | gardenista

    Above: The finished product.

    Taken by the rose hips? See Rose Hip Wreaths from the Hedgerow. For more seasonal DIY ideas, see all of our Holidays posts.

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    One day while Paul Mottorshead and Olivier Guérin were visiting Guérin's parents in Chérac, Bordeaux, they happened to drive past a small building on a narrow side street in the historic center of Cognac. There, on Rue du Palais, an idea was born. 

    The couple decided to quit their jobs in London and move to France to open a garden shop in the 16th-century townhouse in Cognac, and to name it Ambre Concept Store. Next they decided to renovate the shop's courtyard garden. Both turned out to be wise decisions:

    Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: From the street, there's no evidence of the shop's hidden courtyard garden.

    The couple's plan to relocate and open a shop wasn't quite as whimsical as it sounds. Mottorshead had plenty of experience with plants; at the time he managed Clifton Nurseries in London, overseeing the venerable nursery's supplies and decor. Guérin was operating a language school for corporate executives.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Inside the shop, home wares and house plants sit side by side. Before opening the shop, the couple traveled to Italy, Belgium, Spain, and South Africa to ferret out unusual items. 

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Cognac-based architect Eric Daigre renovated the shop.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: The inventory is eclectic, from flowers to furniture and includes both vintage and new items. Scents, soaps, and teas also are on offer in the shop.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Behind the shop is the garden courtyard, where the couple sells garden products and plants.

    Courtyard garden Ambre shop Cognac, France ; Gardenista

    Above: "The courtyard was originally more Mediterranean with palms and gravel, but the palms were to big and spiky and we replaced the gravel with a deck to make it look more contemporary," says Mottorshead.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: At the back of the garden, a Mottorshead and Guérin built a fence from birch tree trunks cut in half and attached to a simple rectangular wooden frame. On the other side of the fence, a decorative metal sculpture reinforces a neighbor's wall.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: A square zinc fountain is edged in box and adorned with evergreen ivy.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: In the terra cotta pot is an espaliered apple tree called Reine de Reinettes, an old French variety.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Reine de Reinettes originates from France in the 18th century and has been popular in England since the Victorian age. For more information about the variety, see Orange Pippin.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Pots (from L) of ivy, hydrangea, and rosemary create a romantic tableau.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: The fence's wooden frame is covered with a black weather resistant fabric to hide an original breeze block wall at the back of the garden. 

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: The peeling back adds texture and color.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: Ivy grows on the fence.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: From French furniture manufacturer Matiere Grise, a galvanized steel Up Chair and Zonda Standing Table are weather resistant and are available in more than two dozen colors.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

    Above: A potted fern is among the plants for sale in the courtyard.

    Ambre Concept Store France; Gardenista

     Above: Chinese star jasmine grows on a metal trellis against a stone wall.

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    My brothers and I thought my father invented the concept of the backyard ice skating rink. The first we heard of it was one night when he went outdoors in Chicago's sub-zero weather to spray a thin layer of water onto a plastic tarp he'd stretched over a low wooden frame. Seemed like a crazy idea. But my father was like that. He had hobbies that became obsessions that grew into lifestyles—remind me to tell you sometime about his stamp collection, which sent all of us to college—and we were not surprised to wake up one morning to see a Zamboni-quality layer of ice sparkling beneath a pitiless winter sun.

    My father's ice rinks became the hit of a neighborhood where families shared Black Hawks season tickets and carpooling duties to kids' hockey tournaments. Over the years as he refined his ice-making techniques and conscripted my three brothers to do hose duty, the only casualties were my mother (an uncertain skater who ended up with stitches) and Peter the rabbit (who died from eating the bath towel that shielded his cage from icy blasts of wind as kids tromped through the back door).

    Nowadays you can buy backyard ice rink kits and supplies from dozens of outfits such as Iron Sleek (which sells ice rink "systems") and NiceRink, or you can save money and follow step-by-step DIY instructions from such sites as Instructables and Popular Mechanics (which promises that you can build a backyard ice rink "with little more than 175 feet of lumber, 25 metal stakes, and a 50-by-100-foot plastic liner"). But the principles remain the same as in the 1970s, when my dad staked the yard to determine its slope—my grandfather, a mechanical engineer, helped him with that part—and then winged the rest of it.

    Is a backyard ice skating rink the right winter project for you? Read on to find out:

    Pick Your Spot

    backyard-ice-skating-rink-gardenista

    Above: A backyard ice skating rink is a project in climates where temperatures dip to 20 degrees or below—and stay there—in winter. In warmer regions, ice can turn to slush, which is no fun for anyone.

    Choose a flat location for your ice rink, near a water source if possible (our hose stretched from its spigot all the way to the center of the ice).

    Determine the Slope

    Backyard slope elevation ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Backyard Hockey.

    No backyard is perfectly flat. Seriously, don't skip this step: stake the four corners of the rink and then eyeball the stakes to determine which one is at the highest elevation. Tie twine around that stake at the height of the top of the ice surface (at least six inches from the ground). Then run the twine to the other stakes and tie it at a level height. You will see immediately the variation in height. (You will be filling the rink to the height of the twine at each of the four corners.)

    For more tips about how to determine your yard's elevation, see Backyard Hockey.

    Supplies and Materials

    Backyard ice skating rink ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Designitecture.

    The main materials you need to build a backyard ice skating rink are boards to form a perimeter to contain the water (pressure-treated plywood or 2-by-12 lengths of lumber will work), brackets to brace the boards to keep water from pushing them out of place, and a waterproof liner (preferably clear-colored or white) for the bottom of the rink. For components, you can go to a hardware store or buy specialty supplies online from companies such as NiceRink

    Build the Frame

    ice rink frame construction ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Mark Claypool.

    Shore up the rink's low retaining wall with strong brackets to prevent water, as it freezes and expands, from pushing the frame out of shape. On a cold day (it's best if temperatures are in the 20s and go even lower at night), unroll the liner, smooth it flat and drape it loosely over the boards (water will take up the slack as it freezes).

    Add Water

    ice rink cafe lights ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sixty Fifth Avenue.

    There are at least two schools of thought on how to fill the frame with water. My father's technique was to fill our ice rinks in layers, standing in the dark with a hose every night for several nights. He waited 24 hours between layers to ensure that the previous night's water was frozen solid. After four or five nights of adding water he tested it by walking on the frozen surface to see if it would hold his weight without cracking. 

    Another method is to fill the rink all at once.  "Don’t try to fill in layers because you could jeopardize your liner. If you put down one inch of ice first, then try to fill again, the new water will bore a hole in your ice and fill from the bottom up. This will push up that first layer of ice, which could damage your liner. Avoid this by filling all at once," says blogger Joe Proulx of Backyard Hockey

    Maintenance

    Backyard ice rink skating ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Popular Mechanics.

    To keep a rink in shape all winter, groom it a the end of every day of skating. Sweep the ice with a broom and then add another thin layer of water to smooth out the surface. You can do this with a hose, or you can have your children do it with a hose, or you can purchase a tool like the  Nice Ice Backyard Ice Rink Resurfacer ($179.95 from X Hockey Products), which applies a thin, controlled layer of water evenly to the ice surface.

    Note: To avoid damaging the lawn beneath, take down the rink as soon as water starts to melt in spring. Most experts recommend draining with a pump or a siphon.

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    For years, I've been on the hunt for the perfect star to top my holiday tree. Most, I've found, are either too big, too plastic, or too costly. So this year I decided to make my own. With nothing more than some foraged larch boughs and glittery string, I crafted a simple, natural star that looks much more at home atop my Scandinavian tree.

    Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

    DIY, foraged tree topper, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: One of my favorite things about this project is the minimal time and materials it requires. Likely you have these things right on hand in your craft drawer and yard.

    Materials:

    • Straight branches from any tree or bush. I used larch, then also experimented with evergreens and rose hips.
    • Festive holiday string or twine. 
    • Scissors, shears, and wire.

    Step 1:

    DIY, foraged tree topper, step 1, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Cut four straight branches the same length, depending on how big you want your star to be. I used 9-inch sticks for my 9 foot tree.

    Step 2:

    DIY, foraged tree topper, step 2, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: If you are using larch or something with needles or buds, remove these from the center 2 inches of each branch.

    Step 3:

    DIY tree star, step 3, Gardenista

    Above: Lay two branches across each other to form a plus sign. Then place the remaining two branches diagonally across these to form a star with equidistant spokes.

    Step 4:

    DIY, foraged tree topper, begining the God's eye wrap, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: To secure the branches, I resurrected an old skill from my camp days: God's eyes. Though this double cross version looks more complex than the standard with two crossed sticks, the technique is the same. In fact, after I got started I couldn't believe how easily my fingers settled into the rhythm of the task. Like riding a bike, I guess.

    First, tie a bit of string to one of the branches. Then lay it across the star and wrap twice around the whole base. Then move to the next "V" and repeat until you have wrapped each section in a star pattern.

    Step 5:

    DIY tree star, step 1 gods eye, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: To begin your God's eye, wrap the twine across the front and around one branch.

    DIY tree star, step 2 gods eye, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Come across the front to the next branch. Wrap around and then move across to the next. Repeat until you have built up the middle of your God's eye. After you achieve the thickness you want, flip you star over and tie off the loose end.

    DIY, foraged tree topper, begining the God's eye wrap, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Here's what your star should look like after this step.

    Step 6:

    DIY foraged tree star, second layer 2, by Justine Hand for Gardenista.jpg

    Above: The second layer of your star is made using a standard four-point God's eye. This time, tie your string farther up the branch. Wrap around, but instead of going to the next immediate branch, skip one. Repeat three times and tie off the end. 

    Step 7: 

    DIY foraged tree star, third layer, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: To fashion the third layer, repeat as above, but start on one of the branches that you skipped before to create two standard God's eyes at an angle to each other. 

    DIY foraged tree star, final, by Justine Hand for Gardenista

    Above: Voilà! If you wish, you can trim the alternate ends of your star. Then attach the star to your tree with a bit of wire.

    DIY foraged branch ornaments, gardenista  

    Above: I also experimented with other materials such as evergreens and rose hips. Hung together, they look like falling snow flakes.

    N.B. Want more DIY holiday decor? Michelle offers a tutorial on Snowballs for the Christmas Tree, while Sarah teaches us how to make a Cardoon Swag.

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