How to Make an Ice Wreath

I first saw instructions for this project on The Artful Parent blog and thought it was incredibly clever — and I can’t believe that I never saw a similar ice wreath during all the frigid winters I spent on the Great Lakes. If I lived in a cold climate at the moment, I’d be gathering together all the materials I needed to make my own ice wreath, and figuring out where to hang it.

ice wreath

photo courtesy of Jean Van’t Hul at The Artful Parent blog; used with permission

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Winter Jasmine: An Early-Bloomer Often Mistaken for Forsythia

Copy of Jasminum_nudiflorum - wikimedia commonsThis has been an especially brutal winter for folks in many parts of the country — including the northeast, the midwest, and even the southeast, where gardeners are used to having flowers all winter. It’s one of those years when the earliest blooming plants will be especially welcome. Winter jasmine is one of those. It can bloom so early in the year during a warm spell that I’ve heard older Southern gardeners call it “January jasmine.” Continue reading

Yard Art: Bottle Trees Add Color to the Winter Landscape

IMG_0255_RESIZEDI shot this photo of a cobalt blue bottle tree one winter while I was taking a little road jaunt with my friend Connie, somewhere up near Adairsville, Georgia. It’s funny, sometimes when I mention bottle trees in a conversation, people don’t know what I’m talking about – so maybe this is your first one too, and I’m glad I could introduce you.

I think of bottle trees as a Southern tradition in yard art, mainly because I never saw a single one before I moved to Georgia. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and some of them are truly creative. I’ve always been a bit enamored with cobalt blue glass myself, and I save all the blue bottles that come into my house, though I tend to perch them on a windowsill and not out in the yard. Maybe someday I’ll have a bottle tree of my own… Continue reading

Surviving the Polar Vortex

Frozen Garden Hose and water pipe connectionMuch of the country experienced an extreme cold spell last week. The weather forecasters called it a polar vortex and depending on where you lived, it swept through with a fury between January 5th and 8th.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the meteorological explanations on the news for yourself, but here’s the way Scientific American recaps it:

“The polar vortex is a prevailing wind pattern that circles the Arctic, flowing from west to east all the way around the Earth. It normally keeps extremely cold air bottled up toward the North Pole. Occasionally, though, the vortex weakens, allowing the cold air to pour down across Canada into the U.S., or down into other regions such Eastern Europe.”

During the vortex, the daily temperatures being reported in Minnesota and the Dakotas were truly mind-boggling – 20 to 30 degrees below zero! Where I live in Atlanta, we had a record low of 6 degrees, combined with an extended freeze where it didn’t go about 32F at all for several days, which is unusual here. Continue reading

Salvaged Items Become Garden Ornaments

If you’ve ever doubted that gardeners are the most innovative people under the sun, just look at the photos below. I shot these on a summer garden tour for inspiration.


I took this shot at the home of Atlanta landscape designer Paula Refi — that’s the side of her garage you’re looking at! A salvaged mantel piece was painted, outfitted with mirrors, and bolted to the outside wall. A stone “hearth” completes the illusion.

This next idea is also clever: Continue reading