The Biggest Mistake with Winter Displays

If you’re looking to avoid the biggest mistake we see in winter container displays then all you need to do is read this.

Let’s just say team Topiarius is a bit more aware of this mistake around this time of year. We see winter container displays almost everywhere we go, and while we do not want to dismiss the efforts of others to engage in the festiveness of the season, we also know that we all have a growing edge(s).

Thus . . . the biggest mistake we see is when there is not enough material (a.k.a. evergreens, berries, branches, birch logs, and accents) for the size of the container.

It’s like having your house painted but there’s not enough paint to do the job so you water it down and give yourself a whitewash. The house has technically been painted, but the goal wasn’t accomplished.

Likewise, you can put some beautiful materials into a container, but if you don’t have enough . . . yes, it looks ridiculous. It’s a party fail, y’all. There, I finally just came out and said it. 

So, here are 3 options to solve this:

  1. Reduce the size of your container and keep the same amount of greens/décor you have. Even if it’s smaller overall, it will be magnificent because it’s packed full.
  2. Buy more greens and décor and don’t resize you container. Invest some more dollars into the display and you won’t be disappointed. 
  3. Edit your materials. For example, If you love red twig dogwood, then invest in it. You are going to need A LOT to make it look fabulous. Five twigs poking out of a mass of greens just doesn’t work; they are hard to see and it honestly screams novice. But, if you don’t want that expense, then ditch the idea all together! Seriously! Rather, buy multiple types of greens and mix them together for a festive and LUSH presentation. No one is going to even miss the dogwood.

Keep in mind that simplicity is not in this same category. You can have one beautiful boxwood shrub with some greens draped around the edge and it can look amazing. (Just make sure the boxwood and the container are in good proportions.)

To see what I’m talking about, download our 2021 Winter Color Inspiration Guide. There are 11 different designs that range in sizes and styles. Each one is a great example of how to have plenty of materials in a container for a professional display.

P.S. Have you signed your 2022 Fine Gardening Contract? Reach out to your sales person if you’d like to. I know that Chris Walsh and Tyler Klivickis are ready to connect.

4 Recipes for Delicious Outdoor Living

I’ve been this way since I was a kid. If I have the choice I will always choose eating dessert first before the meal. (I typically don’t admit this or even act on it so I can keep myself a respectable functioning adult with a relatively fit mid-section. )

This is because I L-O-V-E dessert.

I also L-O-V-E living outdoors.

So, I got thinking . . . how can the two cohabitate this winter? Chicago winters get long y’all (I know I don’t have to state the obvious) and it’s just beginning. So . . . I know we have plenty of time to make living outdoors delicious!

Don’t worry or panic, camping gear is not required.

It’s as easy as these two steps.

First step, you have to believe that fire pits and grills work in the winter. Last time I checked this is a true fact i.e., not fake news. Matter fact 75% of griller owners grill in the winter.

And since I know that 64% of US adults own a grill or smoker, I know that access to said fire creators (industry term) are available.

Second step, you have to have some great dessert recipes that work on a fire or a grill.

To remedy the recipe situation, I’ve got you covered with the following 4 recipes. I think they are the bee’s knees. They’re mouth-watering, simple desserts that you will most certainly want to try. 

I also feel it’s my duty to let you know that we can provide you with an outdoor kitchen and fire creators should you be interested. It’s a specialty of ours!  


Winter Windowbox

Last weekend as Craig and I were laying on our roof (on my old foam Pilates mat) hanging over the edge, zip-tying lights onto eye hooks, neighbors (and great clients – haaay!) walked by and shouted up a hello. 

They commented on our hard work getting our house to look festive for the season. Jokingly – really not joking – I said this is why I pay people to do this for me. 

As fun as it is to be a DIY-er, which is at core who Craig and I both are, paying someone else to do the work is magical

Listen, we do love designing and creating. It brings us joy; it’s balm for our souls. It’s the fuel that got us started. But, I know it’s not everyone’s jam. So my fellow DIFY-ers. Do It For You folks we’ve got your back. 

Before we slide into 2021 (can . . . not . . . wait !), we still can and want to help you with your winter décor and lights. 

You know as well as I do that these next few months are going to be cold and gray with a few doses of sunshine. Add to it the lingering effects of COVID and we’ve all got plenty of reasons for a beautifully inspiring winter display and a house covered in lights (okay that’s our house, but we can brighten up yours too). 

Let me cue this up for you. I have been listening to a book recently and it’s overall theme is about transforming your body and feeling unstoppable. One of the key aspects that the author says affects us is how everything in our home is influencing us in some way.  Right!? I thought, is she speaking directly to me! 

If you’re walking up to dead summer annuals or a rotten pumpkin at your front door or if you’re looking out a window into your back yard that has a bare tree, then the perfect combination of greens and accents in a container and a tree covered in white lights (or colorful ones), is the solution! These changes will influence you in a positive way. 

The best part is . . . the only finger you need to lift to make this happen is the one to pick up the phone. We do all the work and you simply enjoy!

– Sara (an aspiring DIFY-er) J-S

Alternatives to Poinsettias

It made no sense to me. I was in charge of getting 5-8 senior highers to polish the donated box of Red (not) Delicious apples. They would then hand them out at the Christmas Eve service. No one I asked knew why this tradition had been continued for years.

Traditions can be amazing. Traditions can ground you. Traditions can remind you of who you are. Traditions throughout the year can provide you with an ebb and flow framework connecting you to friends and family.

But . . . when there is no identifiable meaning or reason they’re done or any kind of reflection upon continuing them, aren’t they just rote behaviors wasting time and money? Yes. Yes, they are.

In a year that’s made us all change (temporarily!! Go vaccines, go!) our holiday plans and traditions, we are looking for new ways to celebrate and decorate. We are looking for ways to not be boring and complacent!

(Listen. It may seem like a small “thing” or maybe not that important, but I thought those damn apples were a small thing until I suggested we shouldn’t hand them out anymore.)

So, if there is ONE holiday tradition worth exploring it’s the Red Poinsettia.

If you love them, GREAT.

If you buy them out of duty — fear not! There are some gorgeous alternatives. I strongly suggest you explore these three possibilities.

Cyclamen, Norfolk Pine, and herbs like Lavender or Rosemary.

Cyclamen come in multiple different colors, white, shades of pink and red. The blooms are gorgeous. They’re great for table tops because they’re much shorter than Poinsettias. I mean you can leave them on the table while you’re actually eating!

Norfolk Pine are an excellent evergreen that mimics the Christmas tree shape. In a lovely container, they can be placed on a mantle, shelf, or windowsill. Trees everywhere! Make your own forest display.

And using an herb plant, like Rosemary or Lavender (above), you know you’re adding to the overall ambiance with these great scents. They come in all sizes and shapes. Our favorite are the smaller topiary versions. The fresh scents of summer are magical, especially for us that experience winter. I know you may be thinking, “I have to have my Poinsettia!”
We are happy to provide that for you.

But what why not try something else? I know we’re capable.

Our brains can make new connections. We can change our patterns. Our brains are malleable! Just like our nervous system, our brains have been proven to have the capability to adjust and change with new experiences.

When we turn off autopilot and try something new, we see differently. We have the ability to experience multiple songs at the top of the pop charts rather than a one-hit wonder.

We want you to try something new. Not for the sake of it being the latest and greatest trend. But, because living beautifully outdoors (and indoors) should be purposeful, vibrant, zestful and have joie de vivre! Bottom line it’s not boring!

So rather than continuing the Poinsettia tradition because it’s what you’ve always done, our “fruit basket upset” (a favorite childhood game) world is the prime time for your winter celebration to include Cyclamen, Norfolk Pine, and an herb plant like Rosemary or Lavender.

Place Your Orders Today!

(And, yes, we’re still delivering Poinsettias too! No judgment.)