Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Selecting Fresh Roses for Your Valentine

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Picking out the perfect rose (or dozen) might seem like a simple act, but there is a lot to know before you reach for that thorny love symbol.  Make sure you are educated before you buy so not to disappoint your main squeeze.

In this video from Julie The Garden Fairy on Facebook, my husband and I chat about the differences between a fresh rose and on old rose. Hilarity ensues as our daughter the video 'producer' gets bored and the cat causes a little commotion not once but twice!

  1.    Make sure your roses leave the florist shop with individual water tubes, if they are not in a vase of water.  Sending your roses home dry could cut their life in half, if not more.  A common result of roses being out of water for any amount of time results in necking.  This may sound sexy, but trust me, it’s not. 
Water tube example

A rose that is 'necking'
2.       When you are picking out roses, make sure the flower head is firm.  If the petals ‘give’ at all, the rose is old and dehydrated. 
This rose is firm with little 'give'
This rose is soft with lots of 'give'

3.       Know the meaning of those colors: Red=Love, White=Purity, Yellow=Friendship, Pink=Love & Appreciation. Pick appropriately!

4.       Sepals like steeples? Yes! Sepals are the outer shell of a rose.  This is what you see when the flower is still in bud form.  As the rose opens and matures, the sepals gradually open and ultimately bend downward against the stem.  Fresh roses have sepals that are still upright, so, think, ‘sepals like steeples!’

Upright sepals on a fresh rose

Prone sepals on an old rose
5.   I love these white spray roses. They are not the drama queens that long stem roses are, but they are just so sweet! I cut these stems pretty short and tied a white satin ribbon around the vase.

6.      If you are the lucky recipient of roses, make sure that you cut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife.  Cutting with scissors can actually squish the tissue in the stem that transports the water up.  Also make sure you give your water fresh water every day. 

My favorite floral knife is this Victorinox folding floral knife. I have two: one in my kitchen for easy access and one in my floral workshop. They last forever and give your flowers a nice clean cut. If you do ANY floral design, you will not regret getting yourself at least one of these knives. 

I wish you all a wonderful Valentine's Day 
and that your sweetheart picks you the freshest roses possible!

 xo Julie 

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Snow: The Farm in Photos

February came with a snow storm in Connecticut and a two hour delay for school. My daughter and I enjoyed the extra time together checking on the animals, enjoying the fresh snow and making maple syrup snow for breakfast.

There was a quiet peace around the farm yesterday morning that only comes with a fresh snow fall. Sounds are muffled, animals move a little slower and time seems to stall for just a minute. I'm so grateful for these days.

My daughter and I checked on the chickens and she thought this egg should be hatched. 
"Because it's the perfect color." 

I love how the landscape changes with snow. Have you ever seen a tree with a personality like this? It's a Weeping Norway Spruce, Picea abies 'Pendula' 
by the chicken coop with an old hay rake in front. 

I get so many gardening questions about Hydrangea. THIS is why I leave them for winter interest. 
Here is a Smooth Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'. 
I cut the branches to just an inch or two above the soil as soon as spring feels close, usually in March. 

The Magnolia buds are starting to swell over this mild winter. This variety is called Susan and it's a cross between Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra' and Magnolia stellata 'Rosea'

This Blue Atlas Cedar, Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' is a landscape favorite all year long, but in winter it glows. The whorls of blue needles are unlike much else in the landscape. 

Truth be told, I'm a dog person, not a cat person. But our barn cat 'Cinderfella' is such a sweet boy (unless you're a mouse) that I've fallen in love with him. 

'Rusty' was the first calf born on the farm in 2017 and his birth was captured in a Facebook live video on my page Julie The Garden Fairy
He's almost one month old now and loving life with mom in the pasture with the others in the herd.

I love this gate with a Pineapple cutout view of the pasture. That's a Shagbark Hickory in the center. Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality since colonial times in New England.

My daughter had no trouble filling her two hour delay and too soon it was time to wait for the bus.

I was happy to warm up with tea and tulips! 

Wishing you a wonderful day~
xo Julie 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dried Fruit for Christmas Decor

What's better than homemade Christmas decorations? Nothing, right? I love using dried fruit around the holidays- it's simple and creates a warm charm of bygone days that you can't find in any store.

I had the honor of decorating the historic Phelps-Hatheway House in Suffield Connecticut for the holidays.  The original part of the home, built in 1761 has an obvious early American feel that practically begged for my dried fruit creations.

This is a street view of the Phelps-Hatheway House. 
Located on Main Street, it was a classic New England home, now preserved as a museum. 

I used limes, oranges, lemons, apples and cranberries along with cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves with with fresh boughs from Spruce and Fir trees.
Here you can really see the star shape from the core of the apple.
I gathered slices of fruit on a string and tied them to branches of the Concolor Fir Christmas tree with deep red velvet ribbon.
 The first cigar factory in the United States was built in Suffield Connecticut. Because tobacco played such an important role in shaping the town,
I figured a tobacco swag above the hearth was only appropriate.   
I love this garland of cinnamon sticks, apples, citrus and gay leaves.

To dry the fruit, I tried using the oven and a food dehydrator. I could get a lot more done at once with the dehydrator. If you don't have a dehydrator, the oven works fine, I just wouldn't leave it unattended.
I started by slicing the fruit about 1/4 of an inch thick.
Here the fruit is in the oven on cooling racks with a pan below to collect drips from the juicier fruits.
I set the oven to the coolest temperature and left them until they were very dry to the touch.
This is the green parlor of the house. I created valances with spruce branches and hung slices of fruit from twine tied to the branches.
The attic of the Phelps-Hatheway House is filled with treasures. I found these tea boxes and placed them around the base of the Christmas tree instead of gifts.
I created pomanders with oranges and whole cloves. They smelled so wonderful with the springs of fir and pinecones. Such an easy, long lasting arrangement.
Another attic treasure...this bird cage might have belonged to a family pet. I placed a toy snow owl inside and I love how the feathers glow in the sun. An antler my father found in field is along side more bundles of Suffield-grown broadleaf tobacco.
The citrus glowed with the lights from the tree. And how cute are the bundles of cinnamon tied to the branches with the wonderful velvet ribbon?
No need to complicate Christmas. I love the rustic early American charm of dried fruit.
Sometimes back to basics is best, don't you think?
Please share this post with a friend and let me know in the comments below how you are decorating for the holidays this year.
xoxo Julie Harrison ~ 'Julie The Garden Fairy'

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rose Garden Videos, Take 2!

This past year included a wonderful video series project for The Connecticut Valley Garden Club (CVGC) with camera and editing by Peter McCue of Pearl ProVideo. The CVGC has been restoring the Heritage Rose Garden in Elizabeth Park which is located in West Hartford and Hartford, Connecticut. This garden is unique for it's heritage plantings and has been created to be accessible to everyone.
Heritage roses are the old fashioned fragrant roses that might not bloom all summer like new varieties but heritage roses have the fragrance and the details that are almost forgotten about, making this rose garden a living museum of roses.

As the host of these videos, I will show you around the garden at different times of the year. Let's start off with the video featuring Rosarian Stephen Scanniello so you can learn a little more about a heritage rose and a few of the varieties that you may want to add to your own garden.

Next I'll take you on a tour for an overview of the Heritage Rose Garden.

Finally, here is a visit to the garden in spring when the garden is filled with heritage Daffodils.

I hope you enjoy touring the Heritage Rose Garden with me in these videos or in person. The garden is truly a very special place and has been a labor of love for the CVGC.
It has been my pleasure to host their videos.

Please follow me at JulieTheGardenFairy.com and

xox Julie

Monday, November 7, 2016

Elegant Fall Wedding

Since we have 'fallen back' on daylight savings time, I can't help but fall back in love with the autumn wedding flowers that I arranged for the sweetest couple for their October 30th celebration. The reception was held at The New Haven Lawn Club in New Haven, Connecticut which made for the perfect, elegant backdrop for the couple and of course the flowers!

I hope these photos inspire you and maybe even spark some of your own creativity!

You can watch a fun video of Kristina and Michael's big day with lots of great images of the flower arrangements, just click HERE! And enjoy the photos below....

Fall Wedding Video with Flowers by Julie The Garden Fairy
Church arrangement for the wedding ceremony.
The Bridal Bouquet.
A few of the five bridesmaid's bouquets.

The entrance to the New Haven Lawn Club.
Details of the lanterns leading up to the front door.
The welcome table that greeted guests of the wedding.

10 unique bud vases topped each table in the cocktail room.
How cute is this open bar warning?
I love the presentation for the escort cards.
And I'm glad that we had one extra candelabra for this table!
This memorial arrangement for loved ones was beautiful in the sun...
And just as beautiful in candlelight.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time arranging the roses on this cake. I wanted it to be perfect and I couldn't make any mistakes because the frosting would have told on me.
Instead of traditional arrangements, the bride chose runners for the tables with gold candelabras.
The ballroom complete and ready for a celebration! I couldn't do it without my team. Pictured with me are Lisa and Julie who helped me with delivery and set up.
Not pictured is Kathy who helped me the night before.
I'm grateful for Kristina and Michael for including me on their special day
Please be sure to follow my blog at www.JulieTheGardenFairy.com  
 xox Julie