Fresh arrangements provide blast of colour for Easter guests

This is the time of year when green thumbs twitch. Serious gardeners will have petunias and pansies already in their third month of growth and windowsills across the Prairies hold a variety of tomato plants ready for outside planting in a month or two.

For Easter, it is fun to plant wheatgrass or grains to provide living material instead of cellophane in your baskets.

Consider also planting a miniature (fairy) garden. After the holiday, it can be easily re-styled to remain in your home. Local willow and dogwood branches are good choices for decorating. The extra skilled may want to weave them into baskets or wreaths for Easter.

It is not too early to design an outdoor planter. If you restrict yourself to hardy choices, your planter will survive a few degrees of frost and unexpected snowflakes.

Pussy willow branches add height and structure. Spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips that you have forced into bloom, dug out of your flowerbed or purchased locally appreciate this cool environment. Pansies are cheerful and hardy and are already available at local greenhouses.

Easter is an excellent time to introduce young family members to the magic of eggs hatching and newborn rabbits, calves, colts, lambs and piglets, preferably in an authentic farm setting.

If you are colouring eggs this year, explore boiling safe, natural products. You can create a rainbow of hues with shredded beets for red, yellow onion skins for orange, ground turmeric for yellow, spinach for green, blueberries for blue and red onion skins for purple.

Don’t overlook brown eggs. Purple cabbage on brown eggs will produce green and yellow onion skins will result in red. A spoonful of vinegar in your dye solution will intensify the colour and a final rub with vegetable oil will add a sheen.

If you have family or friends that decorate eggs in the Pysanka style, do everything you can to preserve that skill.

You may also want to follow a German tradition by displaying your decorated eggs on an Easter egg tree. Less common are eastern European Easter traditions of spanking with a decorated whip or Easter water fights in Poland.

After an unpredictable winter season, we are all eager to embrace spring. This Easter, take a deep breath of that fresh spring air, listen to the sound of running water and the calls of returning birds.

My father insisted that if you looked closely enough, you would see the sun dance on Easter Sunday morning. I have yet to witness the dance but this year, I will take the time to look.

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