Winterizing Your Garden

With Halloween almost here, you have no doubt been spending time preparing the decorations, costumes and candy for the holiday. But, fall also brings with it changes in weather. Don't forget some of the other tasks around your home and garden to make sure you are prepared for ice and snow.

Here are a few tips to consider when winterizing your garden:

Fall is the time when pods and seed cases from weeds drop and get ready for next year. Beat them to it. Rake up those crab apples from the ground and remove others by their roots. If you don't have time for this, consider removing the heads before they can drop seeds and burrow into the soil. Taking the time to do this now will make your garden look beautiful in the spring.

Prepping Soil
After you have removed pesky pods and seed cases the garden, add some compost on top. Now that your soil is clean, autumn rainfall will filter nutrients from the compost into the soil and make it rich. This will make your soil better prepared for spring, keeping all those nutrients contained under the winter snow.

Taking Care of Flowers
If you have perennials in your garden, cut away diseased or dead flowers and plants. Again, diseases from flowers will nest in the soil for the winter, something you definitely don't want in your garden. Make sure when spring arrives that your perennials have been in healthy hibernation by eliminating any dead blooms.

Fall is also the time to add your spring bulbs to the ground. Plant your bulbs at a depth of two or three times their size into the ground and cover lightly with mulch. But don't wait too long. If rainfall becomes too heavy or the ground becomes too cold, your bulbs will not make it.

However, not all bulbs can handle the winter. If you have caladiums, dahlias or cannas, dig them up and store them elsewhere to avoid the colder temperatures.

Other Vulnerable Plants
Flowers such as roses cannot withstand cold winter weather. But that doesn't mean you can't take steps to protect them. Wrapping them loosely in burlap is incredibly helpful, preferably around some sort of wood or fencing. Fill the inside of the burlap with dried leaves, straw or mulch. This will keep the roses, or any other flowers, safe until spring.

Halloween is the Time for Black Roses

It is said that no flowers are truly black, as black is the absence of light and the pigment in flower petals won't allow this to phenomenon to occur. While flowers can be found that appear black, they are typically deep shades of purple or red. In terms of roses, deep red is often the case rather than purple.

But florists and gardeners strive to achieve this darkness by cross-pollinating dark red roses. The darkest red of the offspring are crossed again and this process is continued until the offspring are no longer deepening in color. Results of this cross pollination are the Black Baccara, Black Magic and Black Beauty, among others, though, in actuality, they are all a very dark burgundy.

Black roses can also be achieved easily enough with black floral paint. Another method is by adding food dye, or "root dye", once every couple of weeks. Change should start to occur after about a month.

True Black Roses
Despite popular belief, true black roses can be found in nature, but are extremely rare. The pitch-black Turkish Halfeti Rose, which indeed appears to be perfectly black, grows only in small quantities in the tiny Turkish village of Halfeti. The unique soil conditions and groundwater – which seeps in from the mighty Euphrates River – create a deep crimson red color which only appears black in the summer months. With the naked eye, the red is nearly impossible to see at all, as the hue of the petals is incredibly dark.

These roses represent mystery, magic, hope and passion, and they are seductive by nature. The locals of the Turkish village have a love-hate relationship with them, as their black hue can turn some people off, even cause fear of the rose.

With Halloween approaching, there is no better time to hunt down your black roses. While they are classy and attractive, they can also be a bit scary. Being less common, many people aren't sure what to think of them. They can be a beautiful addition to your home and your seasonal decorations. But as they stand out the most when they are on there own, be careful not to clutter them in with the rest. By putting them in a bouquet or gaudy vase, you may take away from the mystery that they contain. Instead, use a clear glass vase and set them someplace they will be recognized. They will not be forgotten, by you or your guests.

Choosing Flowers for Those Shared Halloween/Birthday Best Wishes

Halloween birthdays are a treat, both for the person whose birthday happens to be on the special holiday as well as for those giving gifts. The gift giving options are limitless. While some may want to focus strictly on the birthday, others may want to tie the two celebrations together. However, a person whose birthday falls on the costume-promoting holiday has probably grown fond of integrating scares or traditional seasonal colors into the birthday theme.

This Halloween/birthday send flowers as a shared expression of best wishes. Flowers say a great deal. They highlight the season, inspire happiness and remind people that you are thinking of them. When deciding upon a bouquet to accompany whatever type of favorite candy or gift you are sending along, consider some of the below options:

Incorporating the Season
Just because it is Halloween, doesn't mean the bouquet of flowers has to be scary. It is also fall, which means the colors are beautiful and strong. Orange roses and yellow sunflowers will brighten up those birthday wishes. Incorporate some huckleberry and oak leaves to enhance that seasonal flair. Another excellent assortment would be comprised of lilies, chrysanthemums and pokeweed berries.

Vases should complement the arrangements as well. A glass vase is always a great choice, as it is simple and won't overshadow the flowers. However, in a season of colors and costumes, why not use something a little more fun. Hollowing out a pumpkin and using it as a vase is a clever way to keep the theme rolling. But if glass is your thing, maybe choose a color. Orange is a safe bet and won't clash with the lively petals it is holding. 

Creepy Holiday
Black dahlias are a favorite. They have a rich, dark color and can stand alone or as part of a bouquet. And because they can be such a strong individual flower, pair them with accents rather than other flowers. Using eucalyptus or fake black sticks will make the flower seem even more vibrant. If lifeless sticks aren't enough, consider little skeleton bones or spider webs on the dahlia stems.

Pansies and black lilies are also great choices because of their dark hues. They also look magnificent in bouquets, especially the black lilies, as their dark purple compliments many other colors, and they have a strong stem to stand tall. Choose whatever accents you feel are appropriate. Either incorporate some of the options above or apply your own creepy effect. But whatever you choose, just make sure it doesn't take away from the flowers. It is no use getting bold attractive flowers if the accents are going to steal the show. 

When choosing vases, go all out, but keep in mind the flowers need to be the most prominent. The vase should add to the affect, not take away from it. Choosing glass is wise, but pick one that appears cracked or dusty. This will give the desired creepy feel, while keeping the presentation neat. 

Classy Holiday
You can still include the Halloween colors or theme without the bouquet being scary. Roses are classy and rarely can you fail by using them. Consider accenting them with black feathers and even fake spiders. Don't add too many spiders or they will steal the attention and become too creepy. Just use a couple, letting the roses stand tall and juxtaposed with the black feathers. It'll be a sophisticated Halloween birthday arrangement guaranteed to satisfy all who receive and admire them.

The vases for these flowers should be clean glass. Let the flowers speak for themselves. It is also appropriate to use a vintage style vase, preferably black, that is elegant but mysterious due to its worn feel.

Planning for Your Halloween Wedding

Halloween weddings can be spooky, but should also maintain that classy celebration feel. By making use of the right decorations, including food and flowers, your wedding will be too frightening to miss.

When it comes to wedding table centerpieces, there is no one right way to go about designs. However, they can get out of control quickly. When choosing your centerpiece designs, don't overdo it. Take your time and consider what you want to use, and more importantly, what will have the best effect.

Bouquets of orange roses are not only perfect for the season, but they are stunning as well. Add some black dahlias to maintain the Halloween theme. Black dahlias are mysterious and elegant and have a dark fairytale feel, which is exactly what you'll want for your Halloween wedding.

Queen of the night tulips are a great flower to place flat on each plate. Their dark purple color and full bloom gives them a strong quality that will make every place setting stand out. You may find people putting them in their breast suit pockets as the night goes on.

Consider using pumpkins or other small gourds. They can be made into vases for the flowers, or they can sit alongside the bouquets on their own. One great idea is to hollow out the small pumpkins and use them as candles holders for the table. By mixing in some tall black pillar candles, your table centerpieces will be a treat.

For fun, add a few fake spiders, either to the flowers or just scattered about on the table. Maybe fold them inside the napkins.

Decorating for weddings doesn't stop at the table. You have lighting to think about, a dance floor and trinkets for your cake. A great cake topper idea is a single small coffin that says, "Till death do us part." It's a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Why not make your hanging dance floor lights ghosts? They don't have to be tacky. You can find all sorts of ways to have flying spirits illuminate your dance floor. After all, who doesn't want to dance with the dead at a Halloween celebration?

Use pumpkins as signs. This can be an excellent addition to your wedding. It can also say a great deal about you (carve out some of your favorite quotes or song lyrics) while making the most of the season. You can have pumpkins to label the bar and restrooms, or as seat identifiers for the wedding party.

Don't let the cake steal the show While cake is a wedding must, don't forget it is Halloween. Set up a candy bar, either to have open after dinner, or so people can fill a small bag on the way out. Throw jars together of all your favorite candies. There doesn't have to be a traditional item, such as candy corn, just use your favorites.

Flowers aren't just for the centerpieces. You can incorporate flowers into all aspects of your wedding decorating. Again, don't overdo it. Use black lilies or calla lilies on the bar or in community gathering areas. These flowers are dark and make a statement all on their own. While black calla lilies are more rare than white calla lilies, with planning you can get your hands on some. Though they aren't truly black, their deep maroon or purple will provide that dark Halloween feel, while maintaining a sophistication of wedding-appropriateness.

Depending on where your wedding is taking place, you should consider bat orchids. These flowers have whiskers dangling from their centers and can stand alone. However, they love humid climates, so your options are limited. But they will certainly add to your beautiful Halloween wedding.

Front Yard Halloween Decorations can be Fun for Kids Too

While many think of Halloween as a time for scares, parents of small children might want to consider a different approach. But the decorations don't have to be frightening. In fact, the holiday can be a very charming one by focusing on pumpkins, candy and the fun of costumes. There are even movies geared for younger audiences. After all, consider Casper the friendly ghost.

Below is a list of ideas for decorating your front yard this Halloween that will be fun for the little ones too. While your children might hurry past those homes that have skeletons coming out of the ground, or spiders crawling over the door, you can rest assured knowing they will be thrilled about their Halloween-themed home. It will also make the most of the season.

A Fresh Take on the Familiar
When trying to find ways to implement the staples that have become common tropes of the holiday, such as pumpkin carving or scarecrows, consider putting a spin on it.

  • Pumpkins: Carved pumpkins don't have to have scary faces. And really, it is the act of actually creating something that is hugely fun for the children. While you shouldn't let your child carve their own pumpkin, you can absolutely let them pick out a face they like, or maybe consider a favorite familiar character. It could even accompany a costume they are wearing. Maybe this year it's Iron Man. Why not his face on the pumpkin? Maybe it's a princess, or they just want a friendly ghost face. Maybe your child wants to incorporate color or different designs. Painting pumpkins has become quite a trend, as it allows the creator to do more, and it also lasts longer than one that has been hollowed out. And when it comes to painting pumpkins, your child can also help, rather than just watching the parents cut away. Providing your children with a more hands-on activity is always a winner.
  • Scarecrows: Again, creating a scarecrow can be a fun activity for the kids. Instead of calling it a scarecrow, consider the term "mascot." Or you can even give your creation a name that the family comes up with. Let the kids take some of the parents' old clothes and dress up the mascot as they want. Give it life with buttons for eyes. Keep it warm with a raggedy scarf. This is also a great way to get rid of those leaves that have begun to fall and populate your front yard. How often do children get to stuff leaves into a sweatshirt?
  • Ghosts: Ghosts can smile! Take advantage of those bare branches and hang some ghosts with smiling faces. They can be purchased from your nearest Halloween outlet store or you can use old sheets and make them yourself. If you do create your own, think about attaching little buckets so they appear to be trick-or-treating.

Making the Most of the Season
There is more to Halloween than just the novelty of decorating. There are fall colors you can incorporate into your landscaping as well.

  • Flowers: Setting flower arrangements inside pumpkins is a great way to use elements of the season. Flower arrangements with orange gerberas paired with maroon miniature carnations, or orange roses paired with orange asiatic lilies and red cushion mums will show that the season is alive and well in your home. Black dahlias are a seasonal favorite as well.
  • Gourds: Like pumpkins, you can apply some color or even wording to decorate your gourds. They don't have to accompany other arrangements, as they can be decorated to stand on their own and be just as prominent. Maybe you want to write on them, perhaps a letter on each. You can write Happy Halloween, or maybe even your family name.

4 Creative Ways to Avoid Lawn Damage on Halloween

Halloween requires preparations before the little vampires and ghosts show up looking for candy. And while you have concerns about safety and keeping your lawn from being damaged, they are going to have an entirely different set of their own concerns. Trick-or-treaters see a door, probably decorated, and a bowl of sweets that they know they are allowed to choose from, if only this one night. Their goal is to get to that front door, to that bowl, and if the walkway isn't the most desirable route, there is a definite possibility they are going to trudge right through the lawn.

But it doesn't have to be so. Below are 4 creative ways to keep your lawn from being damaged this Halloween:

Clear A Path
Providing a path is definitely beneficial. Not only does it allow you to orchestrate your foot traffic, but also can be fun for the little ones. An open walkway leading to the Halloween candy provides a moment of anticipation. The children know they are in for something good when they see a decorated path on which to walk. Use any sort of decorations you'd like, but don't make it cluttered. Keep your path clean and open. This will make it easier for kids to come and go at the same time, without having the path getting bogged down, which could cause some of them to resort to the grass.

Lighting Can Be Helpful and Fun
Lighting is important for safety, but can also be used as decoration. If your path is illuminated with jack-o'-lanterns or maybe orange string lights, it is clear to the costumed children which way to go. And similar to the decorated pathway, children might feel as if they are missing out if they don't walk through the festive lighting. If your lighting decorations are fun, then kids will take to it.

This lighting should apply to the front door too, or wherever your candy station is going to be. A lit pathway must have a well-illuminated destination. Lanterns are great for this. Maybe litter them with some spider webs so kids won't get too close.

Use The Driveway
It is common to use the front door as a station for Halloween visitors, but that doesn't have to be the case. Kids will follow the decorated, illuminated pathway to the candy wherever it may be. Consider setting up a station in the driveway to wait for those walking in costumes. A small fire pit would be a nice addition, as it will allow you to sit outside all night and you won't have to worry about anyone being confused about where to go. You could light the outdoor grill or use your screen covered portable basin. No one will be on the grass heading for the front door, as it will be clear that there is a spooky fire going on in the driveway.

Decorations Can Be Deterrents
When choosing Halloween decorations, many people often go for those items that will turn the lawn into a graveyard. While this is fun, objects on the lawn or garden can potentially cause damage to the grass and flowers. Also, those excellent and creative decorations invite kids to pay games around them and even provide opportunities for Halloween photos. After all, most kids won't be visiting actual graveyards on Halloween night, but if you have one in your yard they might just take to it.

Instead, think of one good decoration, like a zombie hand reaching out of the ground, or even a series of them surrounding your garden. Use the rest of your decorations as a sort of border. Maybe you have a fence, in which case your solution is there. But if not, maybe make one with skeleton bone stakes or witches' brooms. These decorations aren't too scary, but make the point.