The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can make one believe one is in a time warp, for literally time flies at the speed of light. Everywhere there abounds crisper air, and the bustle of children and adults gearing up for one of America's greatest holidays on December 25th. From now on, all eyes are on the countdown of days until Christmas. It is a time of year that many think beyond their own family's needs, and reach out in unbelievable ways to make those less fortunate to be a part of the joys of this wondrous season. Wouldn't it be an immense and miraculous event, if everyone in our area take the time to touch a family who is in need whether through a food bank, a church, or one of the hundreds of community agencies who work with and identify those individuals. Even if we can not afford to give material items, a sincere thought or a word of encouragement, a visit to a nursing home, or just a prayer for well being would convey the message for Peace on Earth and Good will to all Men.
And it is officially fall until December the 22nd and many of us struggle daily to rake or blow the leaves which glide down from the trees in sheets. The Wall Street Journal had a good article setting out some of the hazards of this time from allergens to mold and fungus which breeds in the damp piles of leaves. Pollen is the main culprit mainly from grasses, trees and weeds. The solution may be quite simple in wearing hats, gloves and masks; gardening after a light rain since the air is cleared as opposed to heavy thundershowers which bring in more airborne pollens; and raking or blowing leaves either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. So hopefully these hints will keep us sniffle free.
Not only can we enjoy winter annual blooms outside in our gardens, but this time of year, we can create beautiful blooms inside our homes. The first flowers I look for are pots of mature annuals which will eventually freeze if left to the vagaries of the weather. These I have pruned, shaped and fertilized over the summer for this very use. Two Dragon Wing begonias, one a rich red and another a shrimpy pink are now in brass containers in my library. Next I will bring in some geraniums which were repotted in August and plunge them into indoor containers around the fireplace hearth. I must admit I have witnessed a simply stunning effect.
In the meantime, I purchase narcissus bulbs for forcing which will be blooming by Christmas. Start these now. There are many stores and garden centers which carry these bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs, which come in a myriad of colors, when forced now, will be a showy addition to your home or office over the holidays. Even one big fine bulb with 2 or 3 blooms can be a show stopper. I have seen an arrangement for a dining room or foyer table which was actually very simple, but elegant. Take a shallow container or basket about 4 to 6 inches deep inches high and 15 to 18 inches in diameter, cover several pots of amaryllis with either green moss or Spanish moss, and voila, stunning. I have added battery operated tiny white lights in the moss, and use wired Christmas ribbon to add to the charm. And last but not least is the Holiday Cactus or Christmas Cactus. Colorful and readily available this time of year, use them liberally throughout your home. I am featuring this plant below are the plant of the month.
PLANT OF THE MONTH -
CHRISTMAS CACTUS (Schlumbergia spp.)
A favorite flower which blooms this time of year, especially around Thanksgiving and early December. There are varieties which bloom closer to Christmas and there are many colors to choose from. They grow their elongated blooms at the ends of cladodes, which are flattened stems which function as leaves. To be successful growing them indoors, keep the plant cool, with high humidity. Place it at times in the bathroom near the shower while in use. Never let the pot sit in water, nor water too frequently, nor put it is the direct sunlight.
GOOD GARDENING AND MERRY CHRISTMAS.