The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at the home of Linda Wilburn. Wilburn and Babs Gordon hosted the meeting with guest James Mitcham from Details of the Garden who presented the program.
Members present signed up for a month in 2011 in which to host and do a program. Linda Wilburn asked to be excused from mailing out the meeting announcement postcards every month and Sally Neal volunteered to take on the job. Neal also told the club we had received the Redbud District’s financial statement and the 2010 President’s Report was due in February. Club dues were paid and Jean Biggers gave the club’s financial report pointing out the garden club had purchased a paver for Greenville’s streetscapes project.
Wilburn gave a summation of the streetscapes project in Greenville. The contractor has been selected and the Georgia Department of Transportation next approves the choice. Wilburn pointed out that she is very excited because we are actually getting close to construction. Wilburn said the application was submitted before Christmas for grants to next do the streetscapes for the west side of court square, College Street, and about half a block down LaGrange Street.
Wilburn introduced James Mitcham from Details of the Garden in Pine Mountain. Mitcham decorates Wilburn’s house at Christmas and Wilburn complimented the care and detail that he brings to the job stating that every limb on the Christmas tree has lights wounds around it and the effect is stunning.
Mitcham grew up in a florist family as his mother was Callaway Gardens’ first floral designer and later the family owned seven florist shops. Mitcham worked with the Wall Street Journal until retirement and then worked at Callaway Gardens managing special events. He has been doing events and weddings and special occasions for fifteen years and brings a unique touch to that special day. He noted that today’s bride is “greener” now and is using herbs and grasses instead of classical formal arrangements and often the ring bearer’s pillow is now a bird’s nest.
Mitcham’s nephew Ross Harper has returned from a year teaching and studying in France and he brought pictures of entire downtown walls that are made up of topiary plantings. Usually creepers and ivies fill walls but the unique topiary effect is easy to reproduce. The program for the garden club was making a topiary.
Mitcham used a simple wire tomato cage that was inverted and anchored in a pot that could be fitted into a larger decorative urn or planter. He prefers to use a transportable pot so that in winter the plants can be lifted out and brought inside.
The project requires using bolt cutters, pliers, a good knife and scissors plus cling wrap or shrink wrap. Mitcham recommends using a plastic wrap because the membrane does not dry out. Mitcham wraps the cage in layers as he moves upwards, slicing the plastic and adding succulents layer by layer. He chose succulents for the project because they require little moisture.
The variety of shades of grey, green, and purple succulents that Mitcham purchased from his plant supplier, the Blooming Idiot in Pine Mountain Valley, led club members to ask if Mitcham would demonstrate placing the plants in a pattern. To fill a standard tomato cage he uses approximately 40 plants but would use less if he wanted the plants to grow and spread. Mitcham also uses sheets of moss or burlap if he wants to use fewer plants and leave room for them to reproduce.
This topiary can be filled with a variety of plants: herbs would be pretty if exposed to a lot of sun, succulents also need a lot of sun, sultanas or impatiens would make a pretty topiary planter too especially topped with a cascading plant.
Club members asked many questions which Mitcham adeptly answered or showed an easy method to make or design. Mitcham also filled the club in on all the happenings and events coming up in Pine Mountain and noted how several of the popular restaurants and stores had changed hands and were opening under new management. He recommended that the club come to Pine Mountain on February 18th for the “Taste of Pine Mountain.”
Hostesses Wilburn and Gordon served a delicious carrot cake along with Chai tea latte. The next meeting will be in late February and members will attend the Southeastern Flower Show.