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Into the Garden: Beautiful creations from storms' destruction

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you're sick of hearing about storm damage, you're not alone. I've written about the summer storms, the winter storms, storms here and storms there. The yard is devastated.

But there's a silver lining to all of those dark clouds.

The river birch was twisted by the summer winds and that crazy October snow took it down. As it was cut down, I had a Martha Stewart moment.

Those beautiful, smooth, white logs were just too pretty to throw away.

What to make?

With the help of craftsman extraordinaire Reed Robinson, they became beautiful candleholders.

I've heard from Reed's better half, Julie, that the "new" wood was difficult to work with, but the final products are just beautiful. Thanks, Reed -- hope you're reading this!

Julie brought the final pieces back to me recently, and, of course, added her artistic touch to put three of them into a natural arrangement with sprigs of holly and other greenery. I added a natural metal ornament and now it's on my front hall table below a beautiful evergreen wreath.

By the way, I Googled "birch candleholders" and guess what -- there was Martha Stewart, in all of her crafty glory, making candleholders out of -- yes -- birch logs.

Another favorite oldie

Linda Harshbarger has another favorite old plant tale.

"I have a ficus tree ('benjamina,' aka weeping fig) that is 36 years old. I have kept it pruned, otherwise it might be 20 feet tall! It has traveled with me most of my married life and lives happily in my family room in a large clay pot. Most people seem to think they lose their leaves easily, but I have not had that problem. I love its glossy dark green leaves and treelike appearance.

"Thanks for mentioning these old plants -- they seem to become like family members after such a long time as part of our lives."

Treecycling

If you plan to recycle your Christmas tree, don't use tinsel or flocking. If you have a lake or pond, you can pitch it into the water to create a fish habitat. If you have woods on your property, take it out into the woods where the birds will use it for shelter and then it will decompose.

I clip the branches and put them over many of my perennials for winter protection.

Someone suggested allowing the wood to dry and then using it in the fireplace. Maybe in an outdoor fire pit, but typically pine isn't good for household burning.

Mulching leaves

I saw a cool video the other day online. A gardener took a bag of leaves and dumped them into an empty trash can. She then took a weed trimmer and put it down into the can and chopped the leaves into a very fine mulch! Great idea! Any other unusual gardening tips out there, readers?

Reach Sara Busse at sjbusse@gmail.com.


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