Nothing announces spring is finally here quite as cheerily as a forsythia. The bright yellow blooms are one of the first things to bloom in the spring when the forsythia becomes covered in small, bell shaped flowers. Though the rest of the year you are left with a simple, green shrub, the spring display makes this one absolutely worth it.
Uses: Forsythia comes in a wide range of sizes from the low, spreading Gold Tide forsythia at only 1-2 feet tall and wide all the way to Beatrix Farrand forsythia which stands at 10 feet tall with blooms up to 2 inches wide. So whatever size space you look to fill, forsythia is a good option!
Fun Fact: Already have a forsythia bush? Want more? To propagate your forsythia, just take a cutting of a stem and set it a good, wet potting soil. Wait a few weeks and it will root and become a new shrub! forsythia will also spread naturally, slowly colonizing an area via the roots.
Hardiness zones: 3-8
Winterberry is native to the Eastern United States and Southeast Canada. Commonly found in moist swamps and thickets within these regions.
Uses: Winterberry branches are prized by many décor and art enthusiasts for uses in floral arrangements, winter window boxes, wreaths, and mistletoes.
Fun Fact: The berries are mildly toxic to humans and animals. Also, beware that if you decide to use winterberry in your landscape you are welcoming robins, mockingbirds, cedar waxwings, deer, raccoons, and mice to your yard.
Hardiness zones: 3-9
We are always looking for good shade plants for out landscapes and this evergreen is one of the best. With a hardyness zone going all the way to 2 for some varieties you can be sure this plant will do just fine in Minnesota's long, harsh winter. With dense, dark green foliage these look great in a hedge or just trim it back now and then and let it's natural shape take over. From tall upright forms to low and sprawling there is surely a yew to fit any space.
One caution with this plant is that it is poisonous! They are not recommended for homes with small children or pets.
Fun Fact: Yews are all over in ancient lore. The oldest yews are thousands of years old! Due to their long life and poisonous nature they are often used in ancient mythology to symbolize death and are referred to in Gaelic, Celtic, and Scottish lore. They also have a very close nit wood grain and make great, sturdy furniture.
Hanging Evergreens are an ancient tradition?
Nothing screams the holidays more than the fresh scent of cedar and pine. The fragrance of evergreens have always played a large role in the spirit of Christmas. Along with mistletoe and holly, evergreens have been a symbolic role in the holiday season throughout the centuries.
Dating back to primitive European tribes, evergreens were hung over their doorways to welcome winter spirits in the hopes of receiving good health and fortune. Evergreens were a sign of good luck and brought hope of a prosperous spring. To many ancient people, holiday evergreens symbolized everlasting life because they stayed green and alive when other plants appeared brown and dead. Romans would decorate their homes with evergreens to celebrate the Festival of Saturnalia, the god of agriculture.
Decking the halls with boughs of holly was another special tradition because hollys shiny leaves and red berries were considered magical during the middle of winter and ensured good dreams when hung over the bed. Mistletoe was a symbol of love and forgiveness to the Drudis and Scandinavians and thought to have powers of fertility.
Decorating your home with your favorite evergreens has been a long lasting tradition. From celebrating the the winter solstice to filling the air with Christmas spirit, evergreens will bring joy to the holidays and remind us all that spring will soon come again.
Globe Blue Spruce
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce, Picea pungens Globosa
3-5 ft tall and 5-6 ft wide
Full to Part Sun
Bright blue needles in spring that fade to deeper blue
The Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce is native to the western United States. In the wild it grows best in dry, well drained soil and in higher elevations. The bright blue needles have helped make this one of the most popular evergreens in ou area. With a hardiness zone going all the way to 2 you don't have to worry about this shrub struggling in our long winters.
Uses: This small shrub is often used as an accent in rock gardens or to provide winter interest in a foundation planting. Often these shrubs are grafted to a standard, giving them a 'lollipop tree' appearance and used as a small accent tree near front entrances or along paths.
Fun Fact: They are super slow growers so they only grow maybe 1-6” per year! Hint hint, this is what classifies this conifer as ‘dwarf’.
Hardiness zones: 2-8
Buying a real Christmas tree is better than purchasing a fake one?
Christmas trees support wildlife, provide oxygen for mother earth, grow in soils that don't support other crops, benefit soil stabilization and water erosion. Artificial trees are petroleum-based and created in factories that emit carbon monoxide.
For every Christmas tree cut and sold, three new seedlings take its place. Artificial trees last an average of 3-5 years and are disposed in a landfill and take centuries to dispose while real Christmas trees are biodegradable.
Christmas trees can be recycled in a variety of way from mulch, fish habitats to elephant food.
To find out more fun facts, benefits of buying a real Christmas tree and where to recycle your tree click the link below!
Euphorbia pulcherrima, Poinsettia
Over 100 types ranging from 1 to 15 feet tall and wide
Red, pink, and white 'blooms' are the most common
Poinsettias are native to mexico and in the wild can grow up to 15' tall. The Aztecs used the red bracts to make dye and the sap to help control fevers. But we all know the Poinsettia as a Holiday plant. This came about as a Mexican legend about a little girl on Christmas giving one to Jesus.
What we commonly refer to as petals on the Poinsettia plant are actually modified leaves called bracts. Normally they are simply green however if they have 12 hours of darkness every day for about a month this triggers the plant to bloom and the bracts turn those bright, vibrant colors.
Poinsettias can stay beautiful in your home for months with the right care. They cannot tolerate freezing, however they do want to be between 55-65 degrees typically. They also like the soil to be a bit drier so be sure to punch holes in the foil that typically wraps a poinsettia to allow excess water to drain out.
Fun Fact: Poinsettias are not poisonous. This is an extremely common misconception surrounding this plant but many studies have been done to prove it. It is estimated a person would have to consume hundreds of poinsettia leaves or bracts before any symptoms would show and even then it is mostly indigestion.
Snug as a bug in a rug. This is the time of year for burlapping trees but why? and when?
Burlapping should be done to newly planted evergreens, arborvitaes, and anything susceptible to winter burn. The reason for this is that it will help keep it from burning in the winter
Winter burn occurs when a plant heats up a bit on warmer, sunnier days and the needles begin to wake up. This causes them to start working and loose water. But the trunk is frozen and so is the ground so there is no water to replace the water lost. Wrapping in burlap will help prevent the sudden changes in temp by acting as a little micro-environment where the temperature will stay more even and the needles wont be warmed by direct sunlight.
Another good way to prevent winter burn is to keep your evergreens well watered into the fall. Make sure those needles don't start the long winter months already thirsty!
The best time to burlap is after a few frosts. It needs to be cold and stay cold before you should burlap. Doing it too early can cause your shrubs to overheat under the burlap, causing them to loose lots of moisture and ruining the whole plan! For this same reason burlap should come off right away in the spring while it is still nice and cold so the evergreens can wake up naturally with the rest of the trees.
Looking for burlapping services in the Minneapolis area? Push the link to request a quote from 3 Bears!
Red Twig Dogwood
Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus alba
6 to 9 ft Wide and 8-12 ft Tall
Red Twig Dogwoods are native throughout most of northern and western North America. They can be susceptible to a variety of fungal problems like leaf and twig blights, canker, and leaf spots, but these rarely kill the plant.
Uses: Colorful landscape plant in the winter, Red Osier Dogwood was used by native Indian tribes externally and internally to treat diarrhea, fevers, and skin problems.
Hardiness zones: 3-8
Fun Fact: The newest growth on the plant typically gives off the most color. If you want more color in the winter, cut back the entire plant to the ground every 2-3 years in the springtime.
You know, bears and landscapers have one big thing in common. Winter sure is a sleepy time of year.
But this year we are taking a play out of the polar bear book and staying plenty busy! In fact, I know three bears who have big plans for their winter.
Eric has taken up hammer and saw and is working away at designing a 3 bears bird house.
Clare is taking our landscape designs to the next level by learning all there is to know about 3D computer modeling.
And Erica is gathering all the plant nerds to start a whole new 3 bears branch called HortDorks.
Keep an eye out for more exciting updates!