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Should’a put a wreath on it! Wuh Uh Oh Uh Uh Oh

9 Dec

Ok, I know… a cheesy title for this post but I’m feeling a little cheeky this morning as I watch the first gorgeous snow flurries while listening to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies/Put a ring on it.”  It is  as much-needed pause from Holiday music I’ve been enjoying a bit too much lately!
I’ve already showed you how to turn a wreath into the perfect centerpiece, now it’s time for part 3 in my Holiday Wreath decorating series, it’s time to add holiday glamour to your front door.  Watch this short video on how to make your own custom wreath!

Another wreath idea, is to use a grapevine base (available at any craft store such as Michael’s).  Grapevine is the perfect base for any wreath as it can be re-used to create  a Fall or Spring wreath given the neutrality of the material and unlike evergreen wreaths, this is the only natural material that won’t fall apart so you can re-use the same wreath year after year.  The wreath shown here was made in under 15 minutes using the following materials:

– 3′ diameter grapevine wreath
– Christmas Ball garland (red colour to match our Christmas tree)
– Winterberry (red berries) garland
– Red Pine cone ornaments & 3 birds borrowed from the Christmas tree decorations

Red ornaments and winter-berry garland plus red pine cones

No hot glue gun needed! (which is great because I always burn myself!) Simply wrap the ball ornament and winterberry garland around the wreath and affix with fishing line, floral wire or strong sewing thread.  Then add some theme ornaments borrowed from your Christmas tree (in my case, red birds and pine cones) and your done! A unique custom wreath that directly ties into your existing Holiday decor theme!  Once the Holiday season is over, simply remove the Christmas elements and you can redecorate the grapevine wreath once Spring/Easter rolls around.

Red birds borrowed from Christmas Tree


Fab Holiday Centrepiece

7 Dec

Are you hosting a holiday party and thinking your decor might need that extra touch of Christmas sparkle?  Or perhaps your overly critical in-laws are coming over and you want your house so full of holiday cheer they can’t help be polite (here’s hoping!).  Either way, I’ve  got the solution. Pick up a plain wreath from your local grocer or big box store, borrow some ornaments from your gorgeous Christmas tree and follow the simple steps in my video to create a center-piece that will make your guests think you’re Martha’s second cousin.  Happy Holidays!

To learn more about making holiday wreaths, watch this video!

Show your spirit with a wreath!

7 Dec

Before the constant barrage of holiday music and commercials gets you saying “Bah, humbug!”,  harness your festive spirit and creativity by decorating your own Holiday Wreath.  In this 3 part Holiday Wreath video series, I give you the low-down on

1. Different Wreath Materials… you mean there isn’t just one type of evergreen?
2. Creating a table Center-piece  (in case you mess up the turkey, you will have something else to focus your guests attention on!)
3.  Adding glamour to your front door (your neighbour’s will be green with envy… not really festive spirit but com’on, we don’t decorate just for the in-laws)

First, let’s explore the different types of base materials that can be used to create your wreath.

Gotta love accessories!

9 Nov

When the seasons change, its time to shop!!!

Get in on last-minute sales at Garden centres and decor stores near you so you can add that extra ‘bling’ to your outdoor space. I picked up these fab-finds at Fresh Home & Garden with savings between 20-40%!
Outdoor decor items such as mirrors, pillows and rugs will transform your outdoor living space from generic garden to spectacular party-hosting space!

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Tulip Time – Plant bulbs for a Spring surprise!

2 Nov

It may seem odd to be already thinking about Spring but if you love the vibrant fresh colours that bulb flowers deliver, it’s time to plant now!

Here are some quick tulip-planting tips to get your Spring flower display started.

1. Find a sunny spot
Though most bulbs prefer a sunny location, you can still plant them under trees as the bulbs will bloom before the leaves on the trees are fully out.

2. Plant in clusters  for bold effect
To get maximum impact, don’t plant them in a straight line or dot them here and there in the garden. Instead, arrange bulbs in groupings of 5 to 9 or more.

3. Layer-it-on!
Your Spring display will have greater impact if you layer bulbs according to bloom time and depth requirements (sounds complicated, but all bulb packaging clearly identifies both of these important facts).  For example, the same area of soil can hold crocuses in the top 13 cm (five inches), hyacinths at 16 cm (six inches) deep and daffodils and tulips at about 20 cm (eight inches) down.  The result is a full Spring season of blooms fr0m late April to early June.

4. Avoid creating a buffet for local critters! 

Some bulbs, including tulips and crocus are a favourite food for squirrels. Others, such as daffodils, fritillaria, alliums a are not quite as appealing.  If squirrels are a nuisance, put chicken wire over the bulbs. It can be left in place all winter and bulbs bloom right through it in Spring.  Be sure to clean up after planting because the papery bits left on the ground is a signal to critters that there is likely buried treasure nearby.  Also, your can try a dusting of cayenne pepper or blood meal over freshly planted bulbs but don’t be surprised if this doesn’t slow them down – squirrels are crazy-smart and quickly learn from tricks your neighbour’s may have already tried!

5. Spring Maintenance Tips
Let bulb foliage “die back” naturally for six weeks after before cutting back their leaves, because the leaves store food for the following year’s bloom. But, dying foliage can be unsightly so pair bulbs with perennials as their foliage will camouflage the bulb foliage as it dies back.  For example, the purple foliage of these Plum Pudding Coral Bells makes the orange tulips pop!

Orange Tulips contrasted against Purple Coral Bells

Purple tulips with pansies underneath

Freshly planted fall container with #kal

27 Sep

Freshly planted fall container with #kale #cabbage #gourds. Looks beautiful enough to eat! A #VerkadeDesign original!

Are those peppers?!? Yup, it’s time to refresh your summer containers.

4 Aug

It’s already August and one of two things may have happened to your lovely garden containers.

1. The heat wave a couple of weeks ago did a number on your plants.  Most survived, however others look like a wilted salad.


2. They are looking good but some of the annuals are blooming less frequently.  Perhaps a slight “face-lift” is needed?

This 1 minute video will highlight some plants that are frost tolerant (not frost proof) so that your containers will keep their sexy look into October.

Late Summer Container

Plants included are:

– Ornamental Pepper ‘Calypso Rouge’

– Ornamental Pepper ‘Black Pearl’

– Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’

– Scaevola aemula

Herbs… a feast for the eyes and tummy.

24 May

I realize some of you might be daunted by the prospect of creating a garden oasis this summer. So perhaps start a small  herb garden so you get 2X the benefit from your effort; aesthetic improvement that you can also savour!

Here are some simple tips on getting your herb garden started.

1. Location, location, location: Most herbs prefer full sun (5 hours or more per day) so try to find a sunny and sheltered area on your balcony, deck or backyard.  Consider this… many herbs offer great aesthetic value, consider planting them amongst your existing annuals and perennials for their visual appeal.  They need not be relegated to one blocked off corner of  your garden.

2. Inventive ‘Pots’: Although I normally avoid using ‘found objects’ in my gardens, I find that herb gardens are the perfect place to experiment with more playful containers. I found this rustic 5 compartment tray at the Evergreen Garden Market at the Brickworks for $30. Can you guess what it is? It is an industrial bread loaf tray from the Weston factory in Leslieville! It’s perfect for herbs as it has 5  distinct compartments  to house your favourites.

Found objects can make interesting plant containers.

3.  Select your Herbs:  When selecting herbs, consider some of  your favourite meals and the dry spices you normally use in your cooking.  By planting herbs you already use, it will ensure you get the most use out of your herb garden.  Here are some of my favourites:

For the  BBQ:  thyme & rosemary ( I opt for a separate potted shrub as I use this one almost daily!)

Cocktail Hour: spearmint for mojitos! Be careful though… keep this one in a container on its own as it grows like crazy which will give you lots of excuses to host mojito parties!

Italian dishes: oregano, basil and parsley

Asian dishes: thai basil and cilantro

4. Plant and enjoy!

"Urban Herbs"

Fresh and bright! The perfect summer urn for shade.

18 May

Ok you city dwellers, do you have a deeply shaded urban garden in need of a face lift?!
Consider a modern and fresh palette of electric lime, rich purple and flirty fuchsia. Here is a look at one of my favorite combos.

Spring Cleaning… without the chemicals, it’s possible.

28 Mar

Forget all the premium priced eco-cleaning products. Try some simple at-home solutions and I guarantee you will be impressed with the results.  For example, try my “Super-V” cleaner – 1 part household vinegar, 5 parts tap water.

For 5 other pantry sourced cleaning solutions that won’t leave your home laden in chemicals, skip on over to InHabitat for super easy tips!

If making your products sounds too complicated, then consider trying my fav, iQ Cleaners  which is now available at Wal-Mart & Whole Foods and Loblaws.

Happy Spring Cleaning!