A Twin Pines Thanksgiving – 2016

The Twin Pines Family of Companies is your family-owned, one-stop-shop for all indoor and outdoor home improvement needs. So, of course, we want to cover just as much ground for the biggest family holiday of the year! Check back with Twin Pines all this week for produce-featured Thanksgiving recipes, floral arrangements, centerpieces, and more!

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers

We at Twin Pines are big fans of flowers, especially ones that can highlight the beauty of a certain season, event, or holiday. During Thanksgiving 2015, we gave our readers step-by-step instructions on how to construct the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece, and this year we want to keep the tradition of sharing beautifully crafted or unique flower arrangements and centerpieces going.

If you’re looking for the perfect centerpiece for Thursday’s festivities, you still have time! Follow these popular trends from Twin Pines fans:

Crafty Containers-

One of the most important things we’ve learned about crafting the perfect centerpiece, is to put just as much focus on what the flowers and decorative items are presented in as you put on these items themselves.

2016 Trends Include:

Rustic Options-crates, burlap covered vases, watering cans, buckets, and more! Browse through some of our favorites in the contributed lineup below:

(Contributed By: waterwalkereventslovelly_flowers, michellefloralanddesign,  meredith_unoriginalmomvioletscreativefleurtacious_designssundaycena,  heavenlyhandspartycreations)

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Creative Flower Displays For Fall

Whether we want to admit it yet or not, fall is on its way; The air is getting crisper, the leaves are starting to turn, and the sky is getting dark at 7:00pm. While that might mean saying goodbye to full days spent in your yard enjoying the outdoors, it doesn’t mean you should stop finding new ways to make your landscape unique.

Last year, we shared our expert guide to Fall Flowers (Part I. and Part II.), which outlined some of the most vibrant and season-appropriate flowers to feature in autumn. This year, we want to show you some exciting and innovative ways to arrange and display them outside your home!Petunia Flowers

One of the funnest ways we’ve come across of displaying fall flowers, is actually within the hollowed out trunks of old trees. The easiest way to create this unique arrangement is to locate a broken tree with a very thick trunk that is already living in your yard and prep it for the flowers. Hire a qualified tree specialist (like those at Twin Pines) to remove any excess branches or pieces of the tree that crowd the broken trunk and level out the surface. The specialist should also carve out the hole in the center of the trunk which the flowers will grow in.

Next, simply use the hole in the trunk as a flower pot! Spread nutrient-rich soil within it, plant the flowers, and watch them grow in this natural display!

climbing-hydrandra-creative-solution-to-hide-old-lamp-post-urell-1Another great way to highlight the fall florals in your yard is around a lamp post. The expert Landscape Design team at Twin Pines has years of experience with shrubs like these, which can grow upwards and out when cared for correctly. This tip is ideal if you happen to have outdated or mismatching posts; instead of investing in a full light post remodel, use pretty plants to spice up the look!

Lamp posts and tree trunks aren’t the only items in your yard that can act as a useful base for flower displays. Old wheelbarrows make great containers for featuring plants and Simply Swissflowers. While some feel that the more vintage the wheelbarrow the better, we’ve found that its all based in style. Wooden carts like the one featured in the photo here make for a more rustic look, where a more contemporary, painted one could give a modern-feel. Either way, this simple and pretty display choice can act as a great focal point for your landscape!

Another common household item often utilized in flower displays is a ladder. Trends lately have shown wooden ladders being used more as shelves than actual steps in homes across the country. Used as both an indoor or outdoor display case, each rung of the later can be transformed Harvest timeinto a multi-level shelving unit, maximizing display opportunities! What’s more, because ladders comes in a variety of colors and finishes, the ladder can be customized to compliment the look of your unique home!

Overall, the best advice the experts at Twin Pines can give for making your flower displays stand out this fall, is to add a little creativity into the mix! Combine types of flowers, mix and match colors, and find a fun and innovative way to arrange them! These simple steps will take your designs to the next level.

Keep mind, you don’t have to stick to these few ideas either; there are a plethora of options out there for you to play with. Switch out a flower pot for an old painted watering can or use an old barrel or basket to grow your plants in; try something new and innovative to help your landscape stand out!

Whatever display option you chose, make sure you have some fun with it! Your landscape is a great way to show off your personality, and adding statement pieces like these are a simple and fun way to do that! And if you need a little help along the way, feel free to reach out to our experts at Twin Pines! We would be happy to provide you with a consultation on your landscape this fall, and help make sure it reaches all of its potential. Give us a call today at (508) 358-4231, or email us at sales@twinpines.biz!

Twin Pines’ Guide To Thanksgiving-Themed Centerpieces

basket_goodhousekeeping
Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping

The Thanksgiving holiday is known most prominently for the seasonal foods and recipes it brings with it. From veggies to desserts, Thanksgiving tables are often stuffed to the edge with delicious dish after dish.

With all that focus on cooking and eating, there’s often one very overlooked aspect of the Thanksgiving dinner table: the centerpiece.

This holiday, take the time to construct the perfect seasonal arrangement with these expert tips from Twin Pines, and add that little something extra to the feast!

Constructing Your Centerpiece – Step 1.

Your first step when putting these arrangements together is to choose the container you will be building it within. This is your very first chance to get creative in your design, as you can choose anything from a wooden bowl, to woven basket, to a glass pitcher.

pumpkinvase_babble
Photo Credit: MarthStewart.com

It’s important that this piece reflects your personal style and the theme you’re trying to portray with your Thanksgiving table. Going for a rustic look? Choose a thin crate or a mason jar to fill up. Trying to replicate a more fancy or high-end dinner table? Use a cake stand or a uniquely-shaped glass vase to build off of.

With so many different options to chose from, having a clear and decisive vision of your style will make the entire centerpiece creation process easier!

Twin Pines’ Seasonal Favorite: Using a hollowed out pumpkin as the base of your centerpiece! Don’t feel like going through the entire seed-removal process? Buy a fake pumpkin that either comes hollowed out or that can be carved open.

Constructing Your Centerpiece – Step 2.

Once you’ve decided what container you will be using to create your centerpiece, you will need to brainstorm what kind of seasonal pieces you would like to feature.

Popular holiday centerpieces include a variety of seasonal items, including but not limited to:

  • Flowers (fresh or fake)
  • Pine Cones
  • Grasses or Stick Plants
  • Candles
  • Vegetables (Gourds, Mini Pumpkins, etc.)
  • Berries (Cranberries, Rose Hips, etc.)
  • Nuts (Walnuts, Chestnuts, etc.)
  • Acorns
  • Corn Husks (Indian Corn)
  • Leaves

While it may seem tempting to include every one of these items in your centerpiece, doing so can result in a cluttered look. Instead, choose one or two items to highlight in your piece, and fill in the rest with fillers (like certain grasses, berries, or nuts.)

Some great combinations we’ve seen include:

1) Flowers, Pine Cones, and Stick Plants. None of these items are too overwhelming on their own, so they blend together nicely when proportioned right. A good rule of thumb is to work in fifths. Three fifths of your arrangement for this combination should be flowers. Two fifths should be stick plants or grasses to balance out the piece. The final fifth

nuts-and-candles_goodhousekeeping
Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping

should be pine cones (or other large feature items) that can be mixed in as a final touch.

2) Glass Containers, Candles, Nuts or Berries. Stick a pretty candle inside a glass container and fill in the empty space around it with nuts or berries. This will create a very simple but elegant holiday look.

3) Flowers and Vegetables. As long as you keep the colors all in the same fall scheme, these two natural decorations can work great together! Adding little white pumpkins in with orange, red, and yellow flowers can add a fun dimension to an otherwise typical arrangement.

The beauty of these festive items, is that there is no limit to how you combine them! Get creative and play with your choices, mixing and matching until you create the perfect blend for you liking!

Constructing Your Centerpiece – Step 3. 

After you choose the combination of seasonal pieces you want to include in your centerpiece, it’s time to get down to specifics.

flowers_hgtv2
Photo Credit: HGTV

Flowers, for example, are a staple in many Thanksgiving decorations.
Figure out right off the bat which flowers are seasonal during fall, as these are most likely pull your piece together with the autumn themes.

The experts at Twin Pines suggest Mums, Sunflowers, Autumn Colored Roses, Red/Yellow/Orange Peruvian Lilies, Viking Micro Poms, and Autumn Lilies as popular options for this fall. (Check out our previous post about Fall Flowers Part I and Part II for more ideas!) All of these flowers can blend together well and can compliment other fall items (like berries, nuts, pine cones, etc.) in a centerpiece.


The most important part of constructing your Thanksgiving centerpiece is to make sure it reflects who you are and your personal sense of style.

If you have a family full of kids, set a chalkboard-painted pumpkin in the middle of the table, and let them all write what they’re thankful for on it. If you’re having a fancy dinner with coworkers, use a cake stand to layer a mix of fall flowers and gold painted pumpkins in the middle of your table setting.

There really is no wrong way to approach this process, as long as you have fun doing and you are proud of the piece you created.

Check back with us on our blog this week as we share some of our favorite Thanksgiving Centerpieces designed by people just like you! Want to submit yours? Follow the instructions below:

thanksgiving-centerpieces

Happy Thanksgiving from Twin Pines!

 

Mother’s Day Bouquets – Unwrapped

Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for children and families to show their mother figures how much they mean to them. More often than not, this gesture comes in the form of a bouquet of spring flowers. It’s the perfect gift–beautiful, fragrant, and fun. The only downside can be the often pricey options offered at florists around the country during this time of demand for such flowers.

However, purchasing these pricey arrangements isn’t the only option when it comes to Mother’s Day flowers. Try growing them yourselves in your garden this year!

Twin Pines took the liberty of collecting images of beautiful Mother’s Day flower arrangement from across the country and dissecting them to figure out what the most popular kinds of flowers are for the occasion. We then consulted our expert landscapers and gardeners, and compiled some of our best tips for planting and growing these flowers yourself!

As you can see by browsing through the images above, there was a wide variety in flower types used in arrangements this Mother’s Day. Yet, we were able to identify the top three species of flowers as Roses, Tulips, and Daises. These flowers are all very common, and are fairly simple to grow and maintain in a personal garden! Check out our step by step guide below for each plant, then [Tweet] us your questions or thoughts!

Roses: 

Roses were the number one most popularly used flower in Mother’s Day flower arrangements. Perhaps this is due to the variety of colors, the sweet fragrance, or the fact that people often associate the flower with love. No matter the reason, roses are a great choice for any bouquet throughout the year, and are thus a great choice for growing in your garden!

While there are many varieties of rose species, many of them have the same basic growing principles, including the fact that they should be planted in spring months.

Pink rose in hands

Before you plant roses there are quite a few factors to consider, including the location of your plant. Roses need at least 5-6 hours of sun each day, so they should be planted in a fairly open area. It’s also important that their roots have plenty of opportunity to receive nutrients. If roses are planted too close to other shrubs or trees, the competition may be too great for the flowers. You should also considering planting rose shrubs roughly 18 feet apart from one another as they grow in masses. If you are trying to create a hedge or cluster look in your rose bushes, certain varieties of the flower cater to that.

Roses also thrive in a very specific type of soil, with a near-neutral pH count of 5.5 to 7.0. If soil is too acidic—which is often a problem for rose gardeners—try adding in lime to help with the balance. (Expert Hint: To find out which rose varieties will grow best in the soil in your area, check your local nursery and see what they are selling. While those plants may be fully grown, you then know what kind of seeds or budding plants to look for!)

Plant roses as soon as possible after you buy them, as the longer they are kept out of the ground, the weaker they can become. Monitor the roots of the plants pre-installation to make sure they never go dry, and make sure to soak the entire plant overnight before inserting it into the ground.

When it is time to plant your roses, start by digging an area for them that is deeper and wider than you would anticipate. This will allow the roots to grow properly over time. Make sure to mix soil from the dug-up hole with compost and other necessary nutrients, and then insert the rose plant at least two inches below soil level. In areas with very cold winters like New England, four inches may be a better choice. This is the opposite of most plants, which should be plated 1-2 inches above the soil level.

After the initial planting, watering is the most significant part of your rose-care. You should water your plants between one and two times per week, depending on the dryness of your climate. Make sure to water deeply, so that it reaches the roots. However, make sure to not drown the plant, as it will not thrive in too much water, either.

Spring pruning roses in the garden

In terms of fertilizing the flowers, apply a balanced granular fertilizer about once per month from April to July—the key growth months.

This is just one important form of maintenance, however. Pruning is incredibly important when it comes to rose-care. The plant should be pruned every spring season right after the last frost. Make sure to wear proper gloves, goggles, and arm protection to prevent cuts or scrapes or other bodily harm from pointy thorns.

The main goal of proper pruning is to keep the plant trimmed to a point where air can circulate and reach to the center without a problem. Pruning should always be done right above the “bud eye” of the plant, otherwise identified as the area right above a set of mature leaves. Remove any sections that may become unsupported or that have died since the last pruning.

Tulips:

Tulips were another very popular part of Mother’s Day arrangements this year. These pretty flowers should be planted as bulbs in fall and will flower in springtime.

tulips

When choosing a location for these flowers, choose one that will allow for full sun and soil that will have proper drainage. Before you even begin planting, give yourself time to prep the soil by mixing in organic compounds.

When it comes time to plant the tulips, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep and insert the tulips pointed end-up. There should be at least 4 inches of soil resting on top of the bulb once it is buried, and you want to make sure the soil is several inches deeper than the bulbs you plant so roots can extend downwards.

In terms of layout, you should aim to plant roughly five tulips per square foot with about 5 inches between each of them. Tulips that have been grouped together like this will look best once they bloom. Once planted, firm the soil and give it a thorough watering.

Post-installation care for tulips is fairly easy, at least for the first year. Fertilizer is unnecessary, as the bulbs come with all the food they need inside them in order to bloom the first season. You also should not water again after the initial post-installation watering until leaves appear.

A good tip for those living in cold-winter areas, is to apply straw mulch to the soil about a month after planting has taken place.

Daisies:

Daisies come in a variety of species, but the most common in the North East are Shasta Daisies, which are the classic white daisies you see in many gardens. These flowers are common perennials and have large, beautiful blooms.

You can really choose any time of year to begin sowing seeds for daisies, however doing so in autumn or spring is ideal. The perennials should then be divided later in that season. Seeding directly is another option, which will result in blooming of the flowers the following spring.

daisis

When choosing a location to plant these daisies outdoors, make sure to pick a spot with full sun and moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Till garden beds using a garden fork to ensure the soil is loose before planting. Remember to mix in compost with the dirt, as well. The holes should be spaced one to two feet apart from one another at a depth twice as wide as the pot the plant first started in. If removing from a pot like this, be sure to place the partially grown plant in the hole deep enough so that the root ball is level with the ground. Then fill the area around the root ball in with the dirt/compost mix and water thoroughly.

In terms of post-installation care, water during summer months only if the flowers aren’t getting a lot of natural rain water. Be sure to prune the stems back after the first “killing frost” so that they are only an inch or two above the soil line.

Because they are perennials, it’s important to consider their long-term care, as well. You should divide the plants in early spring or late summer every 3-4 years to ensure their health.

Picking The Flowers For An Arrangement:

When it comes time to cut fully grown flowers to add to a bouquet, make sure to use a pair of sharp and clean shears. Aim to cut the plant right after it has reached the bud stage, as this is the ideal look and size for an arrangement. Make sure to water the plant before you begin cutting, then aim to the cutting itself in the early morning, before it gets to hot out. Cut the flowers at a 45 degree angle, remove any excess leaves, and place the plant in a bucket of warm water. Make a second 45 degree angle cut while the flower is resting in the warm water. This will keep the flowers looking fresh until it’s time to add them into your arrangement!


Taking the time to plant and grow the flowers for next year’s Mother’s Day bouquet is sure to put an extra special smile on Mom’s face! She will appreciate the gesture, and you will appreciate the savings! On top of that, there are many occasions throughout the year that are perfect for flowers, including Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and more!

While the flowers listed in this article are truly some of the most straightforward to plant, if you decide you need help, consider contacting your local landscapers to learn more about proper installation and maintenance techniques. You can also hire a landscape design and maintenance team like Twin Pines’ to plant and help grow these flowers for you!

If you are in the MetroWest MA area and need this assistance, feel free to reach out to us at Twin Pines by calling (508) 358-4231! We would be happy to help!

Allergy Tips From Twin Pines

Experts have been predicting a tough spring for seasonal allergy sufferers since winter. Blaming the extra snow and wet conditions for the high pollen counts, allergists across New England spent early February and March warning the population of the rough season ahead.

Yet, as they always seem to do, allergies have hit people hard this year despite the extra preparation. And it seems that everyone has been taking to social media to voice their frustrations—a phenomenon you can read about on our Allergy Post – Part 1.

If you are one of these sufferers, you know about the stuffy noses, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing that come inevitably wit allergy season. And chances are you have exhausted your typical allergy relief options during this particularly bad season.

Twin Pines experts are here to help! After years of working out in the field during allergy season, our experts have constructed a handful of go-to tips for handling their allergies, that are sure to help ease the stress this spring!

Tip 1. – Showering Before Bed

Young Woman Washing Her Long Hair Under The Shower

Showering after a long day is the perfect solution to alleviating your allergies during the night and into the next morning. Microscopic pollen particles cling to your clothes, skin, and mostly your hair when you’re outdoors during allergy season. Taking a shower at night gives you a chance to free yourself of all of these particles and will give you a sense of relief from the often all-consuming allergy symptoms. Whether that means switching up your daily routine to shower at night rather than in the morning, or throwing in a second shower of the day, the relief you will get from this simple act will definitely be worth it.

Tip 2. – Washing Your Bedding

For many, adding this extra shower into their routine proves difficult, so more often than not, people end up going to sleep with the pollen still on their bodies. However, this act allows pollen to spread onto your sheets, pillows, and blankets, where it will stay night after night until these linens are changed or washed. Making a habit of changing your sheets as often as possible during allergy season will help reduce the pollen count in your room, and help you sleep at night.

Tip 3. – Wet Itchy Eyes With A Washcloth

For those whose allergy symptoms tend to revolve around itchy, swollen eyes, you are sure to be familiar with the discomfort that comes with these symptoms. If showering is not an option for you when these symptoms strike, simply wet a paper towel or washcloth with cold water, and dab at the inner corner of your eyes. If they have become swollen, lean back and rest the damp cloth over your closed eyes, letting the cool water soothe you. This is a very quick and effective tip for allergy sufferers on the go.

Tip 4. – Take A Spoonful Of Local Honey

closeup of female mouth and spoon with honey

While this option may sound a little far-fetched, experts have found this trick incredibly helpful. Eating honey made by bees in your area, will help your body build up resistance to the pollen in the honey, which is the same pollen triggering your symptoms. Try attending farmers markets or shopping in local grocery stores to find this honey, then eat a tablespoon daily for the remainder of allergy season. You will feel the relief soon after your begin this process!


While these past few weeks have been some of the most pollen-filled we’ve ever seen in New England, you don’t have to sit back and suffer silently. Make use of some of our expert tips, and if those aren’t enough to help, consider allergy medicines that may ease your discomfort during this time.

Check back with Twin Pines Landscaping for our Allergy Post Part 3., in which we will describe the best plants to have in your yard during allergy season. With a little planning, you can begin planting these flowers this year so that by the time next spring rolls around, you will have a yard that is both filled with flowers, and easy on your allergies!