02 Dec Ornamental Garden: Trimming the Tree, an Air Plant Angel and…Cue the Christmas Cactus!
Here we are again. It’s that time of year when the air is spiced, the homes (and hearts) grow warmer, and we spend countless hours stalking our friends’ Instagram photos for gift ideas. Yes, the holly-days have arrived!
We spent our Thanksgiving weekend making bourbon mashed yams and pancetta sage stuffing, and trimming the noble fir in our garden. It’s been a couple years since we last got a cut tree. The purchasing of this one only happened after some deliberation, a crisis mode in which we wondered how ethical it is to contribute to the chopping down of millions of trees each year for a few weeks’ decoration. Versus plastic trees that represent their own environmental threat.
After reading about how many (often family-owned) tree farms can act “like natural sponges for atmospheric carbon,” according to MoJo, we picked up our own eight-foot-tall Christmas conifer to display in our yard.
This noble fir (Abies procera) came from McKenzie Farms in Estacada, Oregon. Its needles are soft and sort of plump, and when we cut the cord the branches came down in a fragrant whoosh. We placed it in the tree stand Ryan made especially for the outdoors. The stand has wheels, so we can motor the tree from place to place throughout our yard. The tree’s thick piney scent has completely filled the space outside our kitchen door.
Lighting-wise, we went with large (C6), multicolored and midcentury-inspired. Shocking, right? Instead of big metal baubles, we decided to make this a living tree, so to speak, by taking the tillandsias from our DIY air plant display and placing them throughout our fir. That’s right: we’re using air plants as ornaments. The “star” on top is our jumbo Tillandsia xerographica, which is a whopping 12 inches across.
Considering that air plants are epiphytes that grow naturally on trees, we felt it was kind of fitting. Plus, when we water the tree, we can water the tilliandsias too at the same time!
Meanwhile, our Christmas cactus, which had fallen into neglect on the side of the house, is now in glossy red and pink bloom. This Schlumbergera prefers shadier, high-humidity environments (making it an excellent bathroom houseplant), and flowers when the days get short and cold.
Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase “growing ornamentals.”