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Into the Garden: Old tomato cages make new Christmas décor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My daughter introduced me to Pinterest, a website that allows members to "pin" favorite websites/photos/blogs to different bulletin boards. You can follow different "pinners" and they can follow you.

As far as I can tell, it's used a lot by teens who are looking for inspirational and/or funny quotable thoughts, young women dreaming of lavish weddings, middle-aged women looking for simply decadent recipes (or anything that goes into a slow cooker), and crafters of all ages.

Like I needed something else to steal away my quiet hours in the evening.

As I paged through the pins a few weeks ago, I saw a cute Christmas craft that I had seen earlier in the month at Still Meadows Farm in Walton. The crafter had taken an old-fashioned tomato cage, turned it upside-down, and created a form for a Christmas tree. A little piece of wire wrapped around the legs (now the top of the tree) formed the cage into a conical shape.

I wrapped some extra florist wire around my first tree and then attached greenery in much the same way as I did making wreaths a few weeks ago. I layered white pine, some blue spruce, holly, magnolia, hemlock and cedar. I added lights, pushing the end of the wire down through the empty middle of the cage/tree, attaching an extension cord that came out the bottom. Ornaments included dried hydrangea blooms, magnolia buds and the fronds from ornamental grasses. It's about 50 inches tall.

My daughter, home from college, jumped in to help with the next two trees. We pulled the dead vines from the trees (we cut the vines earlier in the summer, and they were dry but still pliable). I wrapped one of the cages with the brown vines, using florist wire to secure the vines in place every few feet or so. We dangled a jumbled strand of green twinkle lights down the middle of this tree. This one was made from a smaller tomato cage, so it's about 36 inches tall.

The final tree is just wrapped (and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped) in strands of white twinkle lights. I purchased some of the LED lights last year, and I wasn't too fond of the bright light cast by them for use on the "real" indoor Christmas tree. I think the newer ones are a bit warmer. So we used all of the bright ones on the tomato-cage tree, as it will be used outside and the brightness will be effective.

I put the cages atop several large, clay pots that hadn't been put away yet, to add height.

All in all, these were easy to make and they look nice by the front door.

Speaking of clay pots

This gadget came across my desk a few weeks ago, just after I moved most of my heavy pots around the house to their sheltered winter location. It's called a pot lifter and at $29.95 plus shipping, it can be found at www.potlifter.com. There are a couple of straps that buckle around a large object (garden pot, ball and burlap tree, landscaping stones, heavy bags of mulch, cement, feed, etc.). Two carry straps with handles distribute the weight between two carriers, making lifting a much less back-breaking experience.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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