The people's voice of reason

Southern Gardening!

The magazines shout that Christmas is near with colorful photos of tables groaning with turkeys, hams, casseroles, and fabulous desserts. Holidays in America and in the South do revolve around food and drink. And speaking of food, these make great gifts to neighbors, friends, and family. One such food gift would be Pesto which can be put in jars and the tops wrapped in gold foil with ribbons to match The recipe is simple, adding about 2 cups of fresh basil and blended in the blender with a good extra virgin olive oil. There are many recipes on the Internet which include different salts, peppers, even butter.

There is no one that I know of who does not absolutely love the Christmas season. With a nip in the air, and maybe a slight freeze, we can bring a garden of blooms indoors. We can force narcissus bulbs into bloom by putting them in bowls or vases with a layer of small stones of all descriptions placed in the bottom and covered with water. Also Amaryllis bulbs, which are on the market everywhere, is another bulb which is easy to force into bloom. If one desires tulips for the garden, they must be refrigerated for 6-8 weeks in the crisper of the refrigerator prior to planting. If planted without refrigeration, the blooms come right out of the ground with little or no stem. Weird looking. So if you want tulips, get the bulbs immediately, and plant them mid to late January. Inspect the bulbs before making the purchase as they are not cheap, many times about $1.00 per bulb. Mildew, mealy bugs, or rust spots on the bulbs could prove disastrous for the plant. And we would not want to introduce soil born organisms which play havoc with other flowers planted in the same area.

December temperatures are not usually much below freezing, but when the gauge indicates below 20 degrees, that is when we could have problems with cold damage to the roots of Azaleas. Not only Azaleas, but the cold problem can be the same with other southern zone 8 flowering trees and shrubs. To be prepared, December is a great time to mulch with about 2 -3 inches of: Pine straw, pine bark mulch, and even leaves, piled up around the feet of these plants. So when we blow or rake up the fall leaves, spread them around under trees and shrubs and you will be ahead of the game.

For those of you who have talents that include flower arranging, here is an idea that I spotted in a fall magazine that really is stunningly beautiful and easy to produce. The asymmetrical flower arrangement included pine cones, Asian lilies, Cyclamen, Eucalyptus, and variegated ivy. Secure a footed dish about 10 inches high with floral clay and cover it will different size pine cones. Then place the lilies, ivy, Eucalyptus and Cyclamen amongst the cones. Dried Poppy Seed heads, or other seed pods also add to the diverse, yet very pleasing design.



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