Everyone loves a holiday, and in the south, we do love holidays that have a close association with food. And Thanksgiving is a prime example. People plan their menus weeks in advance and have family and friends over for a meal which is really a feast. The sideboard groans with casseroles, turkey either roasted or fried, dressings with who know what all has been added, and the desserts which would win first place in many county fairs. But the real meaning of Thanksgiving is just that-we as a family and as a nation are so thankful for the bounty showered upon us from the good Lord. Thanksgiving should not just be one day out of the year, but everyday. I am grateful that we in America share in this tradition.
At St. John's Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue, we hold a fall bazaar which include home cooked baked goods such as pies cakes, cheese muffins, cinnamon rolls, pantry items, frozen casseroles, arts and crafts items, garden plants and ornaments, Christmas items, and much more. There is a luncheon served which can be purchased at the door to eat on the premises or taken out. All purchases are tax deductible. Mark your calendars for November 19th, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and be ahead of the game for your Thanksgiving feast.
When spring comes and we see many gardens awash in the oriental poppies and seas of gorgeous larkspur we regret that we did not take time to throw a few seeds in November. So do not miss out again this year. Larkspur is absolutely the next best thing to delphiniums, the King of the spring flowers. And in many ways superior to delphiniums since they do not need to be staked and are very easily grown from seed. Delphiniums are quite finicky and if not sown under strict conditions damp off and die. For both the poppies and larkspur, we just need bare ground, no mulch, and the seed. Scatter the seed upon the bare ground, and rake some soil lightly over the top of the seed. They need sun and a light sprinkling of water and off you are to a spectacular showy spring combo.
FALL POT GARDENS
Since we have gotten all the life and love out of many of our summer annuals, you may want some really great plant combinations that, when planted now, will carry your pot garden through the winter months. These plants love cold weather, and will give you not only color but texture as well. Many pots which were in a shady area in the summer suddenly have sun from a southern exposure. Here are some different pot planting of flowers, herbs and vegetables that I recommend because these are readily available in the market place.
1. Snap dragons, tall and dwarf, come in an infinite array of colors; curly parsley which is a great filler, and dusty miller are one choice. I think that the tall snaps with the parsley under planted and clumps of the dusty miller to the side would be quite showy. And besides, the more you cut the snaps and the parsley the happier they become. Don't we just love happy, robust plants. I would fertilize with any commercial fertilizer and work into the soil before planting. Osmocote, a timed release fertilizer, needs around 60 degrees to be effective, so don't waste your money now. It is a superb fertilizer in spring, summer and fall since it will not burn the plants. As with any fertilizing program, always water it into the soil well either before or after planting.
2. Petunias, ornamental cabbage and dark green kale gives the impression of a tight pin cushion with the added trailing of the petunias. If you get all white petunias, this will stand out at night along with the white and pale creams of the cabbage. Petunias are very fragrant and also requires sun to thrive, even in the winter. I have a stand of petunias in pots in my back yard that are three years old.
3. Pansies, plus thyme and oregano is effective. The yellow pansies so not require as much sun light as the other colors.
4. Tall carnations and dianthus, which are shorter, are also a stunning combination and very fragrant.
5. Geraniums, which I save over the summer, are coming into their own in fall and do well with petunias and dianthus tucked into the front of the pots. Remember to dead head the geraniums and they will last even through frost. On extra cold days, I usually just tarp them, as they can take a good bit of cold.
6. Other herbs which mix well in pots and also in the beds are: rosemary, cilantro, fennel, marjoram, and flat or Italian parsley.
Another easy trick to the pot garden is to plant tulips amongst the flowers and herbs in late December. Purchase these right away and keep them in the crisper of the refrigerator for 6 weeks before planting, so they will bloom on long stems. Daffodils planted this way make for a nice surprise in the early spring. One good thing about daffodils is that they do not need refrigeration.
FALL FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS
Maybe it is time for us to branch out this fall and use some unconventional plant materials for bringing fall into our homes. I love nothing better to roam the country roads and cut interesting foliage such as the red and orange sumac, sourwood, and maple; the orange berries of the deciduous holly, maybe some white cotton stalks; the tall plumes of grasses; some yellow golden rod; berries from Nandina, also call Heavenly bamboo; and the bright fuchsia beauty berry. Dogwood trees have a multi color fall beauty which should not be overlooked along with its bright red fruit. I have picked up the lime green knobby fruit of the mock orange tree, sprayed it with a lacquer hairspray, placed them on wooden skewers, and put these in the arrangement.