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Gail's Gardens December 2014


Gail's Gardens December 2014

by Gail Fanning

Time to begin making those Christmas wreathes! I hope you have been collecting all kinds of interesting seeds, nuts, berries, pinecones, and other garden delights for the season. I have a great collection of dried thistles, magnolia seed pods, eucalyptus nuts, and Jerusalem sage seed heads collected in my garage, ready for spray painting in silver, red or gold.  Then I just tie them into my greenery (mounted on a wreath frame), add a big red ribbon, and presto! A unique, natural decoration for the front door or gate. This a great project for kids and grandkids:  let them each make one of their own to take home. Need more instruction or ideas to get you started? Sequoia Floral (3245 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa) offers reasonably priced classes, and all supplies are included: see their website for details.

Want to see a really unique way to use plants? Stop by the new Friedman’s Home Improvement Center in Petaluma (just across the street from the hospital) to see their awesome living green wall on the front of the store.  This is a wonderful example of what can be done with vertical gardening: a great option for growing in small spaces or to camouflage ugly walls.  Vertical gardens also provide shade and insulation for the buildings they are attached to, and yes, you can grow edibles in them! To learn more about green walls, check out: If you decide to try a green wall, do remember that maintenance and watering will be ongoing: don’t make it so tall you can’t reach the top easily!Gail's Gardens December 2014

The website has a guide to Bay Area Living Walls (most of them in San Francisco). Also look on this website for another very neat idea: living tables they call “ferniture”. These glass top tables have small ferns or succulents planted under the glass: it would be simple to create your own for outdoor patio use, or consider a waterproof model for inside the house! Definitely a conversation starter!

Here’s another fun idea for holiday presents and projects: make a bug hotel!  I know my grandson will enjoy this: he loves to explore the yard with his bug box: capturing, observing, and then releasing spiders, ‘rollie-pollies’, ‘earwigs’, flies, and many other fascinating creatures. has pictures of 9 different ideas for bug hotels: all simple projects that can include the kids in the creative process. Most use items you probably already have lying around the garden: sticks, bamboo, pieces of old wood.

Our important  native pollinators, the mason bees, like to nest in holes in wood or hollow plant stems. Vary the size of the holes between 3/16 and 5/16 inches in diameter to accommodate different bee species. Remember when you hang your bee/bug box that it must be warm and protected from wind and rain so that the eggs laid inside will survive through the winter to hatch out in the spring. Be sure to hang it where the kids can watch the action over time. Fun fact about the Mason bees (Osmia): they got their common name because they use mud like plaster to seal up the holes after they lay their eggs: ‘mason’ is an old word for a plasterer.

Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends: I’ll see you in 2015!