December conjures up such pleasant ideas, scenes and scents, that it is difficult to enumerate them all. Ideas of the past and present that include new uses of ribbons, greenery and ornaments. Mistletoe which used to be just hung with a single ribbon has now become this huge ball of glittery circles and strands of ribbon to the extent that one can hardly recognize the mistletoe with in. And perhaps forgotten in the shuffle, is that if someone stands beneath, then a kiss should be planted on their cheek. We remember scenes from the North of white snow and horse drawn sleds with passengers cloaked in large plaid wool blankets racing through the woods singing merrily the songs of the season, and then stopping to listen to the sounds of snow flakes coming down. And who can forget the cedar and pine fragrances of wreaths and trees which are amplified by the crackling fire in the fire place. Christmas of old and Christmas today has endured changes, but Christmas always remains the same.
Poinsettias are adorning the shelves of markets all over Montgomery. Many years ago, only the red varieties could be found unless one ordered them from a catalog which came from faraway places such as Maine or Vermont. Now we have such a choice, not only red, but white, pink, peach, and peppermint stick colors. I would suggest that when decorating with Poinsettias, that we keep with one color per room. These are great to fill in fireplaces that are not used, hearths, mantels, stairs, tables with. They make wonderful gifts for neighbors and friends. Long blooming, they do not want too much water, as one time per week is plenty. I buy clear plastic saucers to prevent overruns. Forced bulbs such as narcissus, even tulips, Christmas Cactus, and cyclamen make a welcomed addition to the parade of Christmas blooms.
PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR DECEMBER – POINSETTIA
They hail from the Euphorbia family of plants which includes annuals, perennials and succulents. Their true blooms are inconspicuous, and usually in the center of the very colorful leaves. These petal like leaves are not the bloom heads, but are termed bracts. Beware that many have poisonous sap.
They grow into hedges in the tropical south, but in our area, must not be left outdoors when the temperature dips. I have witnessed an expensive lesson on the temperature limits of these plants. A friend was having a holiday open house and had decorated their porch, and steps with lovely poinsettias a few days prior to the party. The night before, a sudden freeze engulfed the area, and the homeowner woke up to what appeared to be cooked red turnip greens in the holiday pots. What scrambling to locate more substitute plants you have never seen. A native of Mexico, it needs some sun and its soil only slightly damp.
Tulips, if purchased now, can be cooled in the crisper of a refrigerator for 5-6 weeks, and planted in January. Daffodils, and other bulbs may be planted with no refrigeration needed. Amaryllis is another bulb which we associate with this time of year. Once the bulb is forced and blooms, it can be planted out of doors and will over winter with a little mulch in our area. Once out of doors, they bloom in the spring, need regular water, but after the blooms die out, it is best to let them go dormant.
So let this season be joyous, hopeful and filled with blessings for everyone.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOOD GARDENING.