Sunday, December 2, 2007

It’s beginning to SMELL a lot like Christmas
Or how to choose, keep, and enjoy a fresh cut Christmas Tree, wreath, and garland.

Fresh baked brownies. Paperwhites in bloom. Pinion burning in you chiminea.

When these images are conjured in your head, there is most certainly a smell that goes with them. Our sense of smell is the strongest memory triggering sense we have. Well imagine the memories you can make with a fresh cut Christmas Tree in your home. I’m sure some of you already have that aroma rushing through your memory now.

I was brought up in a home with an artificial tree. Every year, after Thanksgiving, we would climb in the attic, over the bags of summer clothes, empty boxes from whatever appliance or electronic purchase was made that year (Why do dad’s always feel the need to save those boxes?) and find the boxes marked TREE. They were dropped down in the hallway and then we sorted limbs, taped up broken branches, and wrestled bent wires to form something that resembled a tree. That was always my Christmas memory.

Then, eight years ago I met my wife. Not only was she “The One”, she was the daughter of a Christmas Tree farmer. I’ll never forget my first year helping at the tree farm. I finally came home from work smelling good! It’s a great, light pine scent. Not to be confused with the harsh Pinesol aroma. It smells fresh, clean, nostalgic. It smells like Christmas. I’ve had a fresh tree ever since and I won’t go back to fake.

You can get that same olfactory sensation for your Christmas with a fresh cut tree, and here’s everything you need to know to choose, keep, and enjoy one this Christmas. We’ll also look at fresh green wreaths and fresh garland.

The most important aspect in choosing a cut tree is how the tree has been cared for. At The Great Outdoors, we keep our trees in water at all times. Every tree is sprayed down at least once a day, more often if it is warm or sunny. They are kept in the shade and given fresh cuts any time they are moved so that they can take up water. It’s a lot of work, but it is the only way to keep a tree fresh, aromatic, and holding it’s needles through December. You may notice, at the box stores and some other places, trees sitting in a pile, baking in the sun without a drop of water in sight. I’ll let you decide which trees are going to look better, longer.

Once you choose your tree, we will take it for a ride on ‘Lil Shakee, the tree shaker. This helps get any loose needles off before you take your tree into your house. Next, your tree is given another fresh cut so that it can take up water once you get it home. A trip through the netter helps bundle your tree up so it is easier to get home and into your house. And finally we load your tree in or on your vehicle. You may want to bring an old blanket if it is going on your roof. We also offer delivery service AND a delivery and setup of the tree service.

Once your tree is home, it’s pretty easy to keep it fresh. First, be sure it is always in water. A good tree stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water. The Cinco brand stands we sell are my favorite, as they hold lots of water, don’t leak, and are easy to use. The stand should be checked every other day for water level and kept as full as possible. There are hundreds of tales of what to add to the water you put your tree in, but the truth is plain old tap water is all you need. If you don’t plan on putting the tree in it’s stand right away, be sure to at least put it in a bucket of water and keep it in a cool, shady place.

A few other pointers for your tree: Be sure to avoid hot, dry areas in the house. This can often be controlled by shutting off a heat vent or closing curtains on a sunny window. Excessive heat or sun will dry the tree much faster and could lead to a fire hazard or at least tons of needles on you floor. Don’t over do it with lights, especially the “old fashioned” C7 or C9 lights, as the produce lots of heat. The new LED lights on the market are more expensive, but they produce virtually no heat and use less power. Don’t leave the lights on overnight, during the day, or if you’re out of town, as this can also lead to drying.

Wreaths and garland follow very similar guidelines as far as the hot and dry location rules. One good recommendation for a wreath is to soak it overnight in water before hanging it. It is also a good idea to spray it at least every other day to keep it fresh. Again, avoid direct sunlight and/or heat vents.

Follow these steps and your tree (and wreath and garland) will reward you throughout the holiday season with that wonderful piney, fresh aroma of Christmas.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Town Lake Trail Foundation Benefit Tonight

In support of the Town Lake Trail Foundation and all the work they do for the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, we are having a benefit night.

On October 12 at 7 pm, get ready for Halloween by having a haunting experience at the Great Outdoors' Gruesome Gardens. Tickets are $30 per person online or $35 per person at the door. A ghoulish buffet will be served and a cash bar for adults will be available. The Gruesome Gardens are recommended for 12 years of age and older.

more info: or you can buy tickets at the door.
Thanks for supporting our community!!!
P.S. we will still be offering tickets to the haunted house only for $9 and $12.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Gruesome Gardens is Coming!!!

Performers Needed

Performers Needed!

We will need to have a total of 14 costumed actors every night (this includes the relief performers).

Here is a breakdown for the minimum amount of performers for each attraction. This is strictly in-scene performers. There will also need to be security, entry control and relief actors.

Relief Actors: rule of thumb - one for every three performers. Each performer scares for 45 minutes, then a 15 minute break, unless they are having fun and want to continue longer.

Gruesome Gardens
Cemetery Scene (Door #1)- performer to operate hinged wall section to trap guests. This is a non verbal roll and the performer will need to remain hidden from guests.
Cemetery Scene (Door #2)- performer to operate hinged wall section to trap guests. This is a non verbal roll and the performer will need to remain hidden from guests.
Camping Scene- performer to be hiding in or behind camper then appear to startle guests. This is a non verbal roll.
Backyard Scene- performer to taunt guests as they pass through the scene. No physical startle, this is a verbal role.
Final Scene (Drop Door Operator)- performer to manually operate (2) drop doors. This will be a physically demanding position. This is a non verbal roll.
Final Scene (Tom Killingsly)- performer intimidates guests to enter down the wrong pathway then hides and startles guests from behind Fear Flaps in exit hallway. This is a physical and verbal role.

The Freak and Fun House
Curtain Hall (Talking Picture)- performer will be hiding behind curtain walls creating the voice for the talking portrait. As guests exit, the performer will reach his/her arm through the curtain. This is a verbal role.
Bug Exhibit (Slide Door)- performer will suddenly appear from behind a sliding bookcase of insect cages. This will be a physically demanding position. This is a non verbal roll.
Man Eating Chicken- performer to taunt guests as they pass through the scene. No physical startle, this is a verbal role.
Wicked Sensations
Heckler in Cage- performer intimidates guests from within a chain link cage as they attempt to find the correct way through the maze. Performer will be blinding guests, shouting at they, squirting them with water. This is a physical and verbal role.
Thanks and let me know if you have any questions, Tom The Great Outdoors, 512-448-2992 ext 15

Event Location: The Great Outdoors, 2730 S Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704
Dates: October 5,6,12,13,18,19,20,25-31.
Times: 7:15-10:30 weekdays, 7:15-midnight weekends

Friday, September 14, 2007

Easy Ways to Kick-Start Your Fall Garden

Can you believe fall is almost upon us? After a very rainy start to the summer, followed by a month of not-so-hot late summer dryness, we are on the downhill stretch to autumn. In the North, the biggest thing they have to look forward to now is fall foliage, followed by seven months of fighting off maladies like snow-blindness and frostbite, and funny accents. But, here in good ‘ol Central Texas, we are blessed with what is, essentially, a “second spring”. August to November are recovery months for many thirsty and heat-hammered plants coming out of summer, as well as show time for some of our most beautiful late-season bloomers. Sadly, though, many Central Texas gardeners don’t always recover as readily as their gardens, and tend to throw their hands up in sun-baked frustration until the following spring. Why do we do this? Here we are perched on a sweet little climatic island, sandwiched between hot, dry summer and cold, wet winter, and we’re blowing it! What’s missing?
I’ll tell you what’s missing: inspiration, the gardener’s best friend. See, every spring, after a long, restful and cabin-fever ridden winter, we jump out into spring’s splendor ready to create, heads-full of flowery visions, trowels in hand. But fall is different, VERY different. By the time summer blows her last furnace breath, we are emotionally beaten and creatively crushed. So, how do we get our horticultural Mojo back? Read on, gardeners, read on.

Matt’s Five Easy Mojo-Grabbing Steps to Happy Fall Gardening
1. Big gifts come in small spaces. Pick an area, no matter how small, that you see often, and make it pretty. It could be the little flower bed around the mailbox that you pass by every day or a terra cotta pot on the back porch that you put your cigarettes out in. Focus on this area, build a little dream around this area, and then follow through, completely ignoring the rest of the yard. If it helps, create a rule that no other area of the garden can be touched or even thought about until that one space is perfect. You will be surprised at how much more creative satisfaction you’ll feel from a small thing done right than from an entire garden done halfway.
2. Out with the old… A wise person once said “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”. Don’t let compassion for last spring’s wilted, bug-eaten plants get in the way of your creative spirit! Look at your yard as if it were someone else’s and be just as critical. Pull out any plants whose season has passed, and don’t be afraid to ax those that have suffered from fiery summer neglect. This “cleaning of the canvas” will do wonders for your ability to envision new plantings.
3. …in with the BOLD! As you stroll through the garden center looking for elements that will fulfill your vision, go for drama. Generally, the smaller the space, the bolder the plants. Pass over mild-mannered mallows and subtle salvias for screaming sweet potato vines and funky fountain grass. Contrast colors and textures, and use the old florist’s rule of flower arrangement: Spiky (grasses, bulbs, yuccas), round (ligularia, rice paper plant, turk’s cap), frilly (ferns, batchelor’s buttons,’Diamond Frost’ euphorbia), and dangly (sedum, ‘Marguerite’ sweet potato, vinca).
4. Obsess, obsess, obsess. “The most important elements to a garden’s success? Footprints on the garden path.” A healthy dose of obsession in your new little patch of heaven won’t hurt a bit. Daily maintenance, regular fertilizing and pest control, and the occasional daydream not only insures thriving success, but also cultivates an appreciation and love of the plants that will carry into the rest of the garden.
5. Create. Enjoy. Repeat. The fine art of enjoying is quickly getting lost in our rat-race culture. It’s a vital skill that requires practice, so start now. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal and step outside to revel in your creation. Make enjoying your garden a daily part of the gardening process, and you’ll find previously torturous tasks like weeding, pruning, fertilizing and watering can be fun. Yes, I said fun!

Come on, gardeners, can it be any easier than that? Start small, be bold, and have fun!


Friday, September 7, 2007

Gruesome Gardens!

Take a journey into the bizarre and terrifying world of Gruesome Gardens. Are the plants really alive? What are those horrid smells? Find out, if you dare! Starting October 6th, The Great Outdoors Garden Center will be transformed into Gruesome Gardens. There will be Halloween fun and festivities for all ages throughout The Great Outdoors Garden Center with the following professionally designed attractions:

Haunted Harvest - Children will have fun in this traditional autumn harvest maze. Filled with hay bales, pumpkins, corn stalks and many other “goodies”. This season’s crop looks to be our biggest ever and we’ve hired extra farm hands to help with the harvest. One might say we’ve worked them to the bone! Suggested for children under 12. Open daily, no startle scares.

Gruesome Gardens
A lost and forgotten neighborhood of Austin that was overgrown by a suspicious new “breed” of plants from the local garden center. Maneuver your way through eight startling scenes in search of missing horticulturist Tom “Green Thumbs” Killingsly. Suggested for ages 12 and over or accompanied by parent or guardian. Performer illusion and special effect startle scares.

The Freak and Fun House
Where does one put all the things that should not be? Things too unmentionable to speak of, to be seen. Well, let’s just say you’ll find more than skeletons in this proverbial closet. Are you daring enough to journey through this mad labyrinth of the creepy freaky? Suggested for ages 12 and over or accompanied by parent or guardian. Performer illusion and special effect startle scares.

Wicked Sensations
See the fear. Hear the fear. Smell the fear. Feel the fear. All Fright here. This attraction is extremely intimidating and will cause intense feelings of fear, frustration and claustrophobia. After all, isn’t that why you’re here? Suggested for ages 12 and over or accompanied by parent or guardian. Performer illusion and special effect startle scares.
Tickets available October 1st. Proceeds benefit local non-profits on October 18th and 19th (more charity dates will posted as scheduled).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

TGO welcomes Matt Welch

The Great Outdoors is proud to introduce our newest staff member, Matt Welch. Matt is a gradute of Stephen F. Austin University and comes to TGO with tons of great plant knowledge and fresh ideas for our garden center. In addition to working in the garden center, he will be doing a lot of writing for our newsletters and handouts. He may even teach a class or two. Keep an eye out. He will be glad to help you with any questions you may have. Look for a picture coming soon.

IGC in Chicago

We just got back from the IGC (Independent Garden Center) show in the windy city and what a show it was! Look for lots of great ideas and new products coming next spring from what we saw there.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Upcoming Pottery Sale

This is a Super Secret announcement!!!
Our semi-annual pottery sale will be held from 8/30-9/5. At least 20% off all our pottery, with a large selection of pots from 35%-60% off. I just got back from a buying trip where I secured a great selection of pots SPECIFICALLY for our sale. Start saving your pennies now!


New Garden Tools from Radius

The Great Outdoors is proud to offer the Radius line of garden tools. These tools are ergonomically designed for maximum power in the dirt and minimum impact on the user. Even the "Big O", Oprah Winfrey, has used and recommended them on her show. I bought one on my recent trip to Washington and LOVE IT!!!

So, if you are in the market for a great garden tool that really makes working in Austin soils much easier, pick up one soon and get back to playing in the dirt.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Big Plant Sale starts Thursday 8/2

We are having a big sale of selected shrubs and perennials. Savings of 25, 40 and 50% off. Look for the colored ribbons stapled to the pots. A great chance to fill in that bare spot in your garden!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dates for Pottery Sale

The dates for the Pottery Sale are May 24th-30th. Thanks!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Semi-Anual Pottery Sale

This is a great opportunity to save on Central Texas' best selection of pottery. ALL of our pottery is at least 20% off, and some items are as much as 70% off.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Welcome to The Great Outdoors!

We are full of green souls. And dirty hands.

We are plant people, and it shows.

More than just a nursery, we are truly an Austin destination. In a bucolic setting under majestic oak trees, lush and colorful plants and striking vistas make this nursery truly an experience like no other in town. First stop off at our new restaurant where you can grab a smoothie or a latte and relax on the patio or have an al fresco luncheon under the thatch gazebo. Wander around in the shade of majestic oaks. Take in beautiful visual displa ys and get ideas for your next garden project. Have pond-side seat on a gorgeous garden bench at the base of the giant waterfall.

The Great Outdoors is unique in many ways. From our eclectic display gardens and unusual specimen material to our commitment to outstanding customer service, we take pride in what we do. And that pride extends to our Landscape Design & Installation Department as well. We are constantly improving and educating our staff on the latest trends and the newest plant varieties.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,