The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer since the real beginning of summer annuals is December 15th (which is when nurseries ask for next year’s summer annuals orders), though you could argue that it begins even earlier when our client relations managers are developing annuals contracts and forecasting their summer annuals sales. However, in terms of installation, May 16th is our official start of summer annuals. With the threat of frost largely behind us (although this past weekend was not indication of that), we begin rolling out the summer designs. There may be some fluctuation on this date based on weather, but by and large this is it.Read More
Earth Day is an opportunity to recognize the impact that we all have on the environment and the ways that we can protect and improve it. Gardens that are designed well using appropriate plant material, properly addressing water and drainage on site, and installed using best management practices are all aspects of a healthy environment (and a beautiful space). Even little changes can make a difference. Planting natives, or bee and butterfly attracting plants, and installing bird feeders or insect houses can be a small, but effective way to have a positive impact on the environment.Read More
Go ahead and hug a tree. Perhaps not a hawthorn tree with all those thorns, but a friendly maple or littleleaf linden would be nice.
Illinois celebrates Arbor Day today (April 29) throughout the state (and nation) where communities and homeowners plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Arbor Day traces its roots (ha! get it?) to 1594 when a small village Spain held the first documented arbor plantation festival. Arbor Day is a day recognized around the world, and is often celebrated with the planting of a tree. In fact, in Nebraska, in 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted in furtherance of the cause.Read More
It’s that time of the year again, the Masters at Augusta National are in full swing (ha! pun intended). Some people watch for the players and their amazing golf feats, but I tend to be more interested in the course setting. I longingly look at their blooming azaleas and dogwoods and wonder why I’ve committed myself to Chicago’s “winter-springs.”Read More
Where does the time go? I think that the mild start to winter has somehow skewed my sense of time…the warm weather through December makes me feel that since there is now consistently “winter-cold” weather outside that winter is just now starting. Instead, the reality is that winter is nearly over. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I walked around my yard the other day and saw just the very tip of bulb foliage peeking up through the mulch. The relief I felt was immense. Parts of winter feel like a trial, just a day-in and day-out struggle to not pack everything up and move to warmer state.Read More
June is National Rose Month, which is appropriate since all the roses are currently in bloom. Though some organizations in our industry seem to have moved away from awarding traditional gardens and have instead embraced contemporary designs with monoculture planting schemes, I remain charmed by these cheerful hallmarks of the traditional garden. Bursting with color, roses have long been associated with love and appreciation and so I think this is a good time to reflect that love and appreciation back to them. (Roses have also been symbols for war, politics, and religion….Truly, roses are for every occasion.)
At Scott Byron & Co., we work with local growers and nurseries for most of our rose needs. In the fall, we work with Roses & Roses & Roses in Wadsworth, IL to order all our hybrid tea roses so that we have the quantity and quality that we need and that our clients expect and in the spring we work with other growers, such as Midwest Groundcovers, to fill our Knock Out rose and other shrub rose needs. So far this year, we’ve already planted over 500 roses! If you’d like to add a rose garden to your landscape or need help maintaining an existing garden, we have you covered.
Unrelated to roses, but something interesting nonetheless…I was looking up other national month holidays that are associated with June and found a strange one. June is also the National Fight the Filthy Fly Month and June 21st is St. Leufredus’ Day (St. Leufredus is the patron saint against flies). The more you know! Basil plants, lavender oil, and whole cloves are supposedly fly repellent, so get them out for any outdoor activities this weekend and maybe St. Leufredus can intervene and keep your Father’s Day fly free.
Take care and have an amazing weekend. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
The leaves fall, the temperature drops, and the garden certainly looks austere. Winter has arrived and its icy grip on the landscape has taken hold. The snow falls, builds, melts, turns to ice, and then melts some more. All the while we are anxiously awaiting spring, or at least 40 degree weather. Whatever we can get! How does a landscape architect fit into the reality of winter? I barely want to look outside at this point and I miss the smell of spring, but I am not idle.
One of the most prevalent questions asked us, and probably to most people in the landscape industry, is “What do you do in winter?” Everything. All of it…There’s this myth of the winter slowdown and it’s a time when, in theory, you get to catch up. Organize your files, research building codes, update documents, and generally prepare yourself for the spring push. It sounds idyllic; however, it never seems to actually occur. We may stop planting trees and perennials, but we instead focus on drainage and boulder work. We finish mowing lawn and fall clean-ups just in time for winter interest arrangements and winter pruning. And the design department continues to design. There is always a new project that needs to be surveyed, researched, inventoried, designed, estimated, and have presentation documents prepared.
Certainly, there are times when we are even busier (April/May and October), but there are never times when we are not hard at work. In fact, we’ve already begun scheduling crews for work designed this winter. January to December, 0 degree to 100 degrees, rain or shine, we are working for our clients.
With this year’s early cold snap, many of our clients’ fall arrangements wilted before the holiday and we had to ramp up our winter interest arrangement installations. Personally, winter arrangements are my favorite because they look great during what is typically the landscape’s bleakest time of the year. We don’t even have a pretty blanket of snow yet, just the cold.
Having lived in a balcony-less apartment or in an apartment where my roommate did all the decorating work, I only knew the vague theory of creating a winter arrangement which isn’t enough knowledge when you go to build your arrangement. I sought out our flower operations manager, Tina Shaw, for a tutorial on building a Scott Byron & Co. winter arrangement and at the end I had two beautiful, and insanely heavy, arrangements.
Building a Winter Arrangement
1. Fill your pot with sand. Unlike arrangements for the rest of the year, winter arrangements use sand instead of soil. This really helps with getting the branches to stay put and allows for easy adjustments. Another lesson learned: if you have a large pot and have to move it after arranging, use large gravel or Styrofoam at the bottom to lighten the load.
2. Add the greens. Start with a green that has good structure. Generally the width and height of your arrangement should be about 1.5x the size of your planter so you’ll use these first greens to establish your size (I used Spruce branches). I went a little smaller, as you can see in the picture, because I had to wrestle these pots into my car and then back out once I got home. Anyway, choose a nice and full piece the height you want your arrangement to be (plus a little extra so you have enough stem to anchor it in the pot) and put it in the center of the pot. Add additional pieces, angling them out, to fill out the shape. You should be frequently stepping back and walking around your pot to make sure that it’s not coming out lopsided, too narrow, or with holes.
3. Add texture and keep filling. Choose additional greens to fill in between the Spruce branches and to add texture and variations of green to the arrangement. I used White Pine and Noble Fir branches to fill out the center of the arrangement and Cedar to fill out the base and add a dash of yellow.
4. Add your accents. Add accents to your arrangements – ornaments, ribbons, sticks, etc…. I used pine cones, Juniper , red seeded Eucalyptus, red melon balls, and Talloberry branches. Determine whether or not your arrangement is going to have one front or if it will be viewed from all sides, making all sides “fronts”. Think of arranging your accents in terms of three for balance. You’re kind of making a visual triangle so that your eye moves around the arrangement. Also, make sure not to overcrowd your accents. You don’t want them to be blocking each other.
5. Rotate and adjust. Walk around your arrangement. Stand back, review, and make your final tweaks. Do you see any holes that need more greens or more accents? Is it evenly shaped or is it visually heavier on wide side than the other. Adjust as needed, eliminating and adding until it’s just right. Clip any branches that may now look unruly or too long. If you are going to clip any branches, make sure to clip them all the way back to the base of the arrangement otherwise you’re going to be looking at an ugly blunt end.
6. Place it with the best side forward. Unless you see the arrangement from all sides, choose the prettiest side where you will see it the most. If you have the unfortunate task of having to lift and move one of these arrangements after building it, remember bend with your knees and just hope that your arms and back don’t give out before you get it to where it needs to go. If you’ve built it exactly where you want then you are done. Congratulations on your new, stunning winter arrangement!
If you find your home in need of a beautiful arrangement to liven up your front entry, or any other place, give us a call. It’s never too late to add some winter interest to your landscape.
7 weeks until Halloween. 11 weeks until Thanksgiving. 14 weeks until Chanukah. 15 weeks until Christmas. I am already overwhelmed for the holidays despite them being, at minimum, 7 weeks away. I still have to make my nephews’ Halloween costumes. They want to be dinosaurs and even though I’ve had the pattern for the tails for over a month I haven’t done a thing. Oops. I just moved this summer so my family has nominated me to host Thanksgiving this year for the first time. Should I panic?
Some of my favorite parts of the holidays (except for having days off work and being with family) are all the seasonal and holiday arrangements. I could search Pinterest all day to look at table arrangements, floral arrangements, and any other garden holiday displays. If you haven’t already, now is the time to be confirming fall annuals and thinking about winter interest. By late September, we’re designing and installing the fall plantings – Mums, Kale, Pansies, pumpkins and gourds, ornamental peppers, and whatever else our Property Improvement department thinks up. While the annuals loading area has been sparse the past few weeks, deliveries of new fall annuals have begun to arrive and awash our yard with color.
Take this quiet time of the landscape, when the weather has turned but the leaves have yet to fall, to assess your own garden and determine what you would do differently this fall or next summer. We can help. Whether you’re a planner or a procrastinator, we’ve got you covered. Good luck with your holiday planning, whether it starts 15 weeks early or the day before.