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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

christmas house Are you planning to host a festive gathering this holiday season for business associates or family and friends? Set the tone with a few special touches for your indoor and outdoor holiday decor. Check out the gallery below for some decorating ideas from the pros, appropriate to our Boston-area climate and classic New England style. (See more on our “Winter Wonders” Pinterst page.)

Between shopping, cleaning, and managing the food, beverages, and guest list, it can be hard to round up fresh greenery and decorating supplies. Let us help check decorating off of your to-do list with delivery and installation of:

  • Wreaths, evergreen roping, and swag
  • Outdoor lighting for trees and houses
  • Christmas trees and kissing balls
  • Patio pots and hearth baskets
  • Candle rings, mantlepieces, and indoor arrangements
  • Poinsettias, amaryllis, and paperwhites as decorations or gifts

If you don’t fancy sending a family member up on a ladder to hang lights, or having your hands sticky from wrapping pine garlands at the last minute, schedule a free estimate for holiday decorating.

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On Saturday, November 28, 2015, start your holiday season off right by scheduling installation of Christmas decorations by A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative.

We can prepare your home or business for holiday festivities with indoor and outdoor arrangements of evergreens, berries, and branches; roping, wreathes, and kissing balls; holiday landscape lighting; poinsettias; and even Christmas tree delivery.

As a thank you for supporting small and locally-owned businesses, if you contact us on Small Business Saturday for your holiday decorating, we will include a free 20″ mixed evergreen wreath with your installation.

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Why Support Us on Small Business Saturday and Every Day?

A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative is a 28-person, 100% worker-owned business. When you spend money with us, it stays in the Boston-area economy, as we pay workers from East Boston and Lynn, a floral shop in South Boston, a Sudbury nursery, a hardware store in Waltham. On average, coops source three times as many of their products locally than conventional corporations, and we’re no exception.

Profits stay local, too, supporting our pro bono work with local charities, creating more jobs, and making better lives for our families and neighborhoods. And because we live and work here just like you, we make sure that we’re making the best business decisions to benefit the local community, from avoiding synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to recycling all of our plant pots and organic waste.

If this sounds like an approach you want to support, contact us via our webform or call 781-788-8855.

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For background on this meditation, go here.

You are a tender plant, all soft, green stems and leaves.  As the days grow shorter, you send all of the nourishment collected from the summer sun down into your roots, and you prepare to wait.

dandelion seeds blowing off flower

“Moving On” – Dandelion Seedhead (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

Your leaves yellow and crisp, until the Gardener chops them back. You are sad without your leaves.  Then, you realize that they were dead anyway. What had kept you alive no longer serves you. You let your once-beautiful leaves go.

ripened sunflower in fall

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) in fall (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

The Gardener comes back and tucks you in with a blanket of straw. You nestle your roots down into the soft earth, grateful for shelter from the cold, harsh, scouring winds.

You sit in the darkness. You wait. Some days, you dream of pushing your shoots up through the soil. You hunger to feel the sun on your face, to feel your flowers opening, your seeds ripening. But you know that to spring forth now would be unsustainable. To burst out in abundance now would deplete the stores you worked hard all summer to nurture.

oriental poppy seed pod

Seed pod of Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientalis) (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

So for now, you rest. You dream. You sit. You dwell in your own Be-ing, grateful for the protection of the dark earth. You trust in the Gardener who sheltered you with straw, and who will keep the rabbits from your tender, new leaves when spring returns.

You don’t have to do anything to bring the spring. It will come. The Gardener loves you, and she will come, too. So, for now, for winter, you rest and you dream.

Queen Anne's Lace in snow

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) in snow (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

Some days, you dream of summer, and it makes you sad for what is lost. Some days, you dream of spring, and feel lonely without the robin and the worms.

Then, you remember that it is winter, not spring or summer. And winter cannot be rushed. Only when the earth turns back to the sun will it be your time to stretch forth into the open air once again.

Queen Anne's Lace against a blue sky

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

But you remember that, after your long rest, after months of nearly imperceptible changes within you, a time will come when you are ready to unfurl your leaves and bloom once again.

poppy in bloom - close-up

Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) (c) Jesse Edsell-Vetter

About this post:

Across cultures and religions, residents of the northern hemisphere have struggled to make meaning of these final weeks before the winter solstice — weeks of cold and darkness before the days start to lengthen again. The seasons of Chanukah and Advent/Christmas both contain symbols of this progression from darkness into light. Whether we are religious, spiritual, or simply aware of the movements of nature, this time is an opportunity to reflect on the role of darkness, stillness, quiet, and waiting in our own lives, as symbolized by the plant world around us.

About the author:

Carolyn Edsell-Vetter is a former student of comparative religion and M.Div.-turned-horticulturist. She usually blogs on the more mundane topics of sustainable design and organic landcare.  Carolyn wrote this meditation as part of a Shabbat service she led during the lead up to Chanukah. Photos are by her husband, Jesse. More about him at JEVPhotography.

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trees with christmas lights, downtown Boston

Our crew finished installing holiday lighting last week at this residential property near Copley Square in Boston.

Whether you want a festive display of holiday lights at home, or to boost the curb appeal of your business for shoppers, you’ll want the finished product to be safe, energy-efficient, and beautiful.  Outdoor Perspectives, a national outdoor lighting chain, has 7 simple steps for DIY Christmas lighting: SHINE ON. Here’s our summary:

  • Sketch: Develop a plan on paper before you begin. Together with “after” photos, this will simplify your work next year!
  • Hang: Give yourself several hours of daylight, to avoid frustration or errors from rushing.
  • Investigate: Inspect all extension cords, and test each string of holiday lights while you’re still on the ground.
  • No Shortcuts: Use only lights and decorations labeled for outdoor use. Follow your wiring plan and avoid the temptation to overload circuits.
  • Encase: Tape up connections with electrical tape to protect them from the elements.
  • Only use clips: No staples or nails.
  • Never go solo: Use the buddy system whenever using a ladder.

Additional advice from our own lighting experience:

Your lighting plan should include not only the desired lighting effects, but how you will wire them with the available outlets.  Also consider how lights will be controlled. Do you want to have to go outside in your bathrobe at midnight to shut off the system?  If not, consider an outdoor-rated digital timer, photocell, or wiring onto an indoor switch.

Controllers will help you to save energy, but so will choosing LED fixtures.  While the upfront cost can be a bit more, LEDs consume up to 90% less energy than incandescent lamps, and last up to seven times longer. That’s a lot of years of happy light-bulb testing! While consumer-grade products may not be as durable as professional-grade lighting, you will get the best performance from reputable vendors and manufacturers.  Look for UL and EnergyStar labels.

Sound too complicated, cold, or time-consuming? Contact A Yard & A Half for dazzling holiday lighting.

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If you’re planning on purchasing a Christmas tree this year, you might be wondering about its environmental impact.  Betsy Franz’ recent blog post addresses some of the benefits of live, and particularly locally grown trees.  Here are some Boston-area cut-your-own tree farms, courtesy of PickYourOwn.org.  Call first to check hours & availability!

  • D.J. Hussey Farm – Choose and cut Christmas Trees, Wreaths, Roping, Christmas shop.
    20 Burgess Road, Townsend, MA 01469. Email: djhussey@comcast.net. Open: 12/25 to 12/24: weekends 9 am to 5 pm; weekdays, 3 to 6pm.
    Christmas tree varieties: Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, White Pine.
  • Durkee Tree Farm – Christmas trees-you choose and you cut, Christmas trees- you choose and we cut,
    260 Foster Street, Littleton, MA 01460. Phone: 978-486-4580. Open: from 11/27-12/13, Monday to Friday from 12 pm to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 4 pm. Payment: Cash, Check.
    Christmas tree varieties: Canaan Fir, Fraser Fir, White Fir (Concolor Fir).
  • Greenwood Tree Farm – Christmas trees- you choose and we cut, Precut Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, Christmas boughs, garlands, mistletoe, Christmas decorations, trees tied, trees baled, free tree trimmings, saws provided, Honey from hives on the farm, gift shop, snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms
    96 Dudley Road, Billerica, MA 01821. Phone: 978-667-5380. Fax: 978-663-4712. Email: Cardbee@aol.com. Open: 11/27-12/23, Thursday and Friday 12 pm to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. Click here for current open hours, days and dates. Payment: Cash, Check.
    Christmas tree varieties:
    You Choose and We cut varieties: Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir.
    PreCut varieties: Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Grand Fir, White Fir (Concolor Fir).
  • Hazen Tree FarmMinimizes chemical and pesticide use, Christmas trees-you choose and you cut, Christmas trees- you choose and we cut, trees tied, trees baled, saws provided, restrooms
    166 Lake Drive, East Hampton, MA 06424. Phone: (860) 267-4159. Email: Hazentreefarm@hotmail.com. Open: 11/27-12/24 (call for days & hours).
    Christmas tree varieties:  Blue Spruce, White Fir (Concolor Fir), Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, White Fir (Concolor Fir).
  • Hopestill FarmCertified organic. Christmas trees-you choose and you cut, saws provided,
    117 Mill Street, Sherborn, MA 01770. Phone: (508) 653-5421. Email: farm@hopestill.com. Open: 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays after Thanksgiving, or weekdays by appointment. Click here for current open hours, days and dates. Payment: Cash, only.
    Christmas tree varieties: White Spruce.
  • Houdes Tree Farm – Christmas trees-you choose and you cut, Christmas trees- you choose and we cut, Precut Christmas trees, Living Christmas trees (to plant later), Christmas wreaths, Christmas boughs, garlands, trees bagged, trees tied, trees baled, free tree trimmings, saws provided, Santa & carolers.
    169 Berlin Rd, Marlboro, MA 01752. Phone: 508-485-1609. Email: info@houdetreefarm.com. Open:  Hours,  special events, & coupons.  Payment: Cash, Check.
    Christmas tree varieties: Balsam Fir, Blue Spruce, Canaan Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Fir (Concolor Fir), Fraser Fir, Scotch Pine, White Pine.
    Living, rooted tree varieties: Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir.
  • The Tree Farm Minimizes chemical and pesticide use, Christmas trees-you choose and you cut, Precut Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, Christmas boughs, trees baled, saws provided,
    421 Bolton Street (Route 85), Marlborough, MA 01752. Phone: 508-485-0683. Email: JillsTreeFarm@gmail.com. Open: 11/27-12/24, Friday-Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Payment: Cash, Check.
    Christmas tree varieties: Balsam Fir, Canaan Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, White Fir (Concolor Fir).
    PreCut varieties: White Fir (Concolor Fir), Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir.

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fall leaves

We’re doing fall clean-ups and saying our goodbyes to many of you for the year, but please remember that the work of protecting your landscape investment is not done!  Now is the time for:

  • Getting those last bulbs in so you have early spring color
  • Wrapping or spraying anti-dessicant on evergreens (esp. rhododendrons, boxwoods, yews)
  • Protecting marginally hardy perennials and shrubs with extra mulch of pine needles, salt marsh hay, etc.
  • Deer protection, if needed
  • A final, low mow for the grass (2″) to prevent snow mold
  • Pruning dead and broken branches from trees and shrubs to prevent further damage from snow
  • Protecting plants in the way of snow loads from the eaves or the snow plow

Finally, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Bank those leaves!  Make nifty, sculptural cages out of wire mesh, or just pile ’em up and throw a tarp over them, if you have the space.  At my house, the worms are enjoying real leaves in the vermicompost bin, instead of the diet of newspaper & cardboard that they get for most of the year.  Our maintenance crew is mulching up leaves using the lawn mower, so they can be spread as mulch.

Give us a call (or a tweet) for help with late fall chores.  We’re also available to help you prepare for winter festivities, with light-hanging and arrangements of fresh greenery.

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